Building Confidence

August 4, 2021

SDR Symposium | July, 2021

When you think about the best salespeople you know, there’s one trait that seems to crop up repeatedly – confidence.

In the context of sales, people often think confidence is something reps just…have. That it’s innate, and it’s what makes them a good rep.

But we argue against that. Confidence is so much more than that.

And we’re not talking brazen “I can sell ice to an Eskimo” confidence (because that’s just dumb). We’re talking about the confidence to know their product, market, and value props inside-out.

The confidence to know that what they’re doing day in and day out works.

We put together a panel of reps that will confidently (see what I did there?) argue the skill can be developed over time. They’re all prime examples of reps who built up the confidence they needed to become successful SDRs over the course of months on the job.

Learn how to do it yourself and become the definition of confidence that works for you.

The Guests


Jarad Spriggs



Cecilia Underwood


SDR Symposium Guests - andrew smith.png

Andrew Smith

Sr. SDR, Team Lead

Prefer a video highlight? We got you 👇

We started our discussion off with a poll: What makes you more confident? Our goal was to see what the audience considered to be the most important component of confidence, and how our panel would respond to that.

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A theme came up through the poll and through discussion with our panel: knowledge is comfort. And when you’re comfortable, it’s a lot easier to be confident in your actions.

Jarad agreed with the audience. For him, having a solid grasp of the product and the value it can provide allowed him to develop the confidence he needed. As an SDR, you’re talking with a lot of well-informed and intelligent people every day. It can be daunting, and the last thing you want to do is embarrass yourself by saying the wrong thing or not knowing the answer to a simple question. Like Jarad said, “being able to ‘talk the talk’ goes a long way in this role.”

Andrew agreed, but he elaborated a bit on how he uses product knowledge to his advantage.

It’s easy to get in your own head when talking with people who (realistically) know more about the industry you’re in than you do. So instead of going crazy and trying to absorb as much information as possible to become that ‘product knowledge expert,’ it’s easier to pick out a handful of surface-level value props to know really well. Andrew finds confidence in going deep on a few aspects of his product vs. knowing a little about a lot of things. The other part of his confidence comes from building up his personality and phone presence.

There’s a lot of imposter syndrome associated with the SDR role, and for Andrew, no amount of product knowledge was going to change that. Addressing that head-on and working on how he presented himself to prospects was more impactful to his overall confidence than gaining a deep understanding of his product.

Cecilia felt the same way. As someone who self-identifies as a ‘talker’ and loves having conversations with anyone, there was something about doing it over the phone that got under her skin. Recognizing that was a barrier to her success took a lot of trial and error. There were plenty of ups and downs in her first few months as an SDR, but she eventually found comfort in knowing that once you experience the lowest of lows (apparently, a prospect once told her to “suck eggs”) it can only get better from there. Sometimes that mental hurdle acts as a little kickstart to get your career on track.

💡 Don’t tell SDRs to “suck eggs.” They’re people too.



Understanding what makes you confident is one thing, but recognizing where you lack confidence is another. We dropped our audience another poll and had the panel react to the results (seen below).

Nobody was really surprised at the results – objections can throw even the most confident reps for a loop. Our panel did agree on a couple of things while discussing these results:

  1. It’s better for you to fix weaknesses vs. building up your strengths.

  2. Even recognizing that you have a weakness is exhibiting self-awareness – a necessary component of confidence.

If you focus on just improving your strengths, you’ll be in for a rude awakening when a situation comes up and you don’t know how to deal with it. And beyond that, recognizing that you have a weakness to improve shows that you have the self-awareness to succeed in the SDR position.

You can’t improve on anything until you know what needs improving. It’s like Andrew said during the Symposium:

“Your emails will work, and the one day…I don’t know, the wind blows. And they don’t anymore.”

It’s important to not fall asleep as an SDR – things change quickly, and if you’re not ready for it you can fall behind.

Combining that self-awareness with the confidence to know when something will work truly makes for a great SDR.

That led us to asking a basic, but needed, question: How do you define confidence? We heard our panel talk a lot about self-awareness and knowing when something will work, but if you had to sum up what confidence meant in a sentence, what would it be?


“Confidence is being able to say or do something without fear. It’s feeling good about what you’re doing internally. To me, building confidence is all about trying something, recognizing where you went wrong, and fixing it for next time. Knowing that’s how you build confidence is confidence.”


Confidence isn’t knowing or believing that you’re the best at something, but believing that you’re capable of something. You have to believe that at some point you’ll push through.”


“There’s confidence in knowing that you don’t know anything. You have to own that feeling before you can start the process of building confidence. The minute you own the fact that you suck at something and want to improve upon it, you get better.”

Our host, Chelsea, even added her two cents to this question:

Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.”

The second you do that, you can start building the confidence you need.

It’s also important to note that our panelists (and Chelsea) didn’t build this mindset or understand what confidence was right away. It took each of them months to recognize all of this.

And that’s because this isn’t something you just get after a certain period of time, it’s an experience-based mindset. For both Jarad and Cecilia, it took 6+ months to build that confidence up bit by bit until they felt good about what they were doing day-to-day. They spent time getting rejected, seeing success, and learning from their peers until it clicked for them.

Andrew shared a similar sentiment. He got gut-punched right out of the gate as a rep, and it served as a reality check for him. That first month all he did was learn as much as possible. In month 2 he began to test out what he had learned and started to feel stronger as a rep. By month 3 he felt that he could truly be himself, and that’s what he needed to start building up that confidence.

The conversation evolved into who is responsible for your confidence (outside of yourself, of course). All of our panelists had mentioned where they drew inspiration and advice from to this point, so we wanted to make it a focus as we wrapped things up.

What resources did you leverage to build that confidence?

Jarad, Cecilia, and Andrew all agreed on one resource: your co-workers. They couldn’t make it more clear – your peers are a resource, and you have to lean on them to build the confidence you need to succeed in this role.

Asking for help from a handful of co-workers offers you a few different perspectives, and this is key when it comes to asking questions about topics like overcoming objections or getting input on messaging. The more variety you have, the more you can experiment.

Like we said above, the best way to build confidence is by trying something, seeing where it went wrong, and fixing it for next time.

It’s also important to let your co-workers know that they shouldn’t sugarcoat anything with you. If you’re really looking to improve your messaging or pitch, you need constructive feedback. One of our Directors, Tad, is famous for how he asked for help as an SDR:

Is there a Senior SDR who is free for like an hour this afternoon to listen to me on some calls and critique me? Looking for someone who will be as critical and ruthless as possible, preferably leaving a tear in my eye.”

He might have gone a bit far(yes, that is a real email he sent out), but you want someone to tell you how it is. No room for false confidence!

And if you don’t have co-workers to leverage, look outside the company. There are plenty of articles, podcasts, and webinars out there to help you build up the skills to succeed as an SDR. There are also plenty of online communities full of reps just like you who are looking to improve. At the end of the day, the best way to build up your own confidence is to talk with others about what’s worked for them, what hasn’t, and get feedback on what you’re doing currently.

As we ended our symposium, we asked the panel for one last piece of advice they would give to new reps as they begin their SDR journey:


“You’re an equal. Don’t let the title of your prospects intimidate you.”


“Don’t be afraid to ask questions that you think are silly. It’s better to ask and look silly than suffer alone.”


“At the end of that day, remember this: you’re calling people. Tap into that. If they sound like they aren’t being appreciated or feel forgotten, you can shape a call to make them feel seen/heard.”

And as a final note, we’ll leave you with this:

Prioritize. Think – what’s the most important thing for you to start building confidence in? Recognize what that is and game plan it with your manager/peers. There’s nothing stopping you from getting better at the job, it just takes the right mindset and motivation to do so.

aj alonzo

AJ Alonzo is the Head of Marketing at demandDrive. A former SDR turned marketing leader, he's made it his goal to develop resources for sales reps who are looking to level up and for managers who are looking for guidance. Outside of work you can find him trying to shoot under par at his local disc golf course, sipping on a bourbon on the rocks, or continuing his quest to be the very best like no one ever was.
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