Written by Morgan Ingram.
The original post can be found here.
This past year has been a crazy ride. I just hit my first anniversary at Terminus and wanted to share what I learned in my one year as a Sales Development Representative (SDR) plus how these lessons helped me get promoted to SDR Manager.
Here’s a quick story about how I got to work at Terminus. I graduated from the University of Georgia in May 2015 with a Finance and Sports Management degree. I really didn’t know what to do after I decided I didn’t want to be a sports agent.
After I graduated, Jeff Sheehan told me about the Atlanta Tech Village and I learned about this hot new startup, Terminus. The next day, I cold-called Tonni Bennett to win an opportunity to interview with their team. I went through the initial phone screen process and was asked to come in-person the next day.
Passing the initial in-person interview, I was invited to the final interview. I had a great final interview and I was offered a full-time position as a Sales Development Representative (SDR). I officially started on Jan. 25, 2016, then months after learning in the role, I started the SDR Chronicles prompted from a Ralph Barsi article and now I am the Sales Development Manager.
The main reason I’m sharing this story is because there always is an opportunity to succeed.
There always is an opportunity to get the results that you want in life. You have to realize that every single moment you have, you need to maximize that moment with the work that you put in.
Getting the chance to work with your dream company is fantastic, however, what is more important (and more crucial) is the work and execution once you get there. What’s more important than anything else is hustling as hard as you can to succeed with the opportunity you’ve been given.
Before I started, I didn’t know anything about marketing automation, I had no idea what a campaign strategy was and I sure as heck I had no idea what account-based marketing really was and I didn’t even know what a CRM was. I’d never had a sales quota, or even been in a sales role… you see where I’m going with this.
I had absolutely ZERO experience to even be in the position that I was in.
My biggest takeaway is, how much do you really want it? How much do you really want to execute?
Here are five lessons that I learned from my journey as an SDR and how I think they can help anyone succeed.
1. Be Hungry to Learn
I told Lucas Ulloque and Tonni Bennett in my interview this statement, “Yes there’s going to be people that will have more experience than me, but the one thing that most people will not be able to do on a daily basis that I have is the hungry to learn more.”
As Les Brown says, “You Gotta Be Hungry”
As soon as I started I held up to that promise. I talked to every single person in the organization to learn what the keys to success were, how to win, how to be a connector and how to do things the right way to see phenomenal results.
I read every single day, whether it was from Sales Hacker, Twitter or LinkedIn. I would always try new tactics I read and executed on them in my role. Sometimes they didn’t work, sometimes they did but the thought process of learning every day became the backbone to my success as it can be for you when stepping into a new role.
2. Creating an Organized Schedule
This is something I learned about 3-4 months into the new role. In high school and college, I didn’t have an organized schedule of what I needed to do. If I had to study or go to class, I did it because it was what I needed to do. There was no organization of when I needed to study and when I needed to do certain tasks for my classes. When I started my role, I went with a college schedule mindset and it did not work out well for me. I realized then, that I needed to create time blocks on my calendar to hold me accountable.
As I often say, “If you don’t schedule your life, your life will schedule you.”
For example, think about the sport you played in high school and how practice was at the same time every week. There was no change in the schedule unless an outside factor occurred. So for my basketball practice, I knew every day, I had to be there at 5:30 p.m. However, if practice changed everyday it would completely ruin my schedule. Further, that’s why it’s important to have a schedule for your process because it will help you get more structured for your day for true success.
3. Ability to Adjust
I was the 22nd employee here at Terminus and now we are almost at 100 Terminators so I had to have the ability to adjust. From being the 5th SDR on the team to now being the SDR manager, a lot has changed so if I didn’t have the ability to make adjustments I would have not been able to seen success in the long run. The biggest thing I had to learn was that if something is not working, you can always adjust to find a better solution. When I realized that calls and emails were working but I needed to focus a little bit more on LinkedIn and Twitter, I focused more on LinkedIn and Twitter. When Vidyard rolled out ViewedIt, I adjusted and added videos as part of my outreach cadence. In addition, I also started adding personalized emails to my approach and made a slight adjustment there as well.
If you are not making appropriate adjustments, then you are ultimately setting up yourself for failure.
For example, look at Blockbuster they did not adjust, where is Blockbuster, right?
It’s the little adjustments, that make a huge difference. Don’t get too caught up in the things that may have worked in the past because it may block you from your greatness.
4. The Power of Persuasion
This is something that I do not believe is talked about enough, however a crucial skill that my SDR role helped me increase was the power of persuasion. The skill set to call someone out of the blue to provide them enough value to ask them for an appointment for thirty minutes, in which takes their time from them is incrementally huge for your entire career.
As I was doing the SDR role, I realized that my persuasion ability started incrementally increasing because I was on the phone every single day. I had no fear making a cold call, overcoming objections, and pushing back because my persuasion power had increased at a fast rate which allowed me to persuade someone in seeing the value of Terminus despite the multitude of objections.
You have to consciously increase your skill-set of persuasion as you continue to grow in your career because you always want to articulate value with the right wording. I believe that the power persuasion is best developed in a sales development role, and you will be able to use this ability beyond the SDR role itself.
5. Phenomenal Work Ethic
I talk about this all the time and as most of you know I’m the biggest Gary Vaynerchuk fan in the world. The most controllable factor to any type of success is phenomenal work ethic and phenomenal hustle. This is the cornerstone of what sales development has taught me.
A great example, is my colleague Jim Tocci, Account Executive, here at Terminus who is one of the hardest hustlers I know. When he first started he would come in at 5 in the morning and leave at 9 p.m. My first thought was, “Oh my goodness this is insane”, however after time I really appreciated it because it made me come in earlier. I was coming in at 8 a.m. after I saw what Jim was doing. Once you have a taste for a phenomenal work ethic, you never want to stop after seeing the results. In addition, it becomes part of you because I know going to the office that early doesn’t really bother me it is just a part of the hustle.
The phenomenal work ethic behind the process is huge. This role is super hard. I’ve said this before; it is simple to call people, email people, do a social touch to new net prospects to make them into new net business. However it’s NOT easy. It is not easy to wake up every single day, prospect, cold call, get rejected, not getting results, the emotions of the highs and lows, and keeping a steady mindset. That’s NOT an easy task, however if you have the work ethic and if you have the hustle then that just makes it a little bit easier from the hardness of how hard the role actually is.
I highlighted these five lessons out of the many I have learned in the past year from my sales development role because I know they lead to the results that everyone wants. Never take anything for granted.