Building Your Own Confidence

August 12, 2021

There’s a common misconception that confidence is something innate; something some people are just born with.

The reality couldn’t be much farther from the truth, especially for SDRs.

But just because you can learn confidence, doesn’t mean it’s easy or repeatable. Every successful SDR will have a different story for how they developed the confidence they needed to achieve their goals in the role.

For our current VP of Client Engagement (and former SDR) Sarah Fotos, her experience in door-to-door sales made a significant impact on improving her confidence, but once she stepped into the SDR role, it was like she had to learn how to be confident all over again.

Or in her words:

“Prior to joining demandDrive, I worked in face-to-face telecommunication sales. In that job, body language was everything. Even on the rainiest (or snowiest) days, I needed to slap on a smile, straighten my shoulders, and sound like I just won a trip to Disney World. I quickly realized that both my tone and body language could make or break a sale.

Even after almost 2 years of knocking on people’s doors, I somehow found myself feeling nervous transitioning to the phones. I was convinced that I was successful in my old position largely because my body language exuded confidence and demonstrated to the prospect that I was trustworthy. In my mind, transferring this to the phones would be nearly impossible. After becoming comfortable with my product and messaging, I found the solution: Smile.

Whether your prospect is a COO or a manager in the trenches, they will surely be busy. Confidence and enthusiasm could be the difference between a positive connection or a bleak “not interested” response. The best way to do that? Smile. I even received affirmation of this theory when the VP of a Fortune 500 company noted that she took my call for one reason: I sounded different than other callers. I sounded happy. In a role where it’s so important to stand out, a smile can make all the difference.

How do I achieve this positive approach? It’s simple, really. When the phone is ringing, I straighten my shoulders, widen my eyes, and expect someone to pick up. Before they even say “hello,” I have a smile on my face. Every call needs to sound like the first call of the day — even if you’re watching the PM rush hour traffic through your window.

My coworkers tend to snicker when I laugh on the phone with prospects, but I find that my prospects are usually much more engaged in my call than theirs. I may sound like I’m trying out cheesy pickup lines — “Wow, you’re the only person with that job? You must be really busy! I can’t believe you picked up the phone!” — but I know that the smile I had on my face helped make a good impression, even if it didn’t turn out to be an opportunity.

So, next time someone picks up the phone, slap on a smile. It could be just what you need to make the prospect listen.”

One of the most interesting aspects of Sarah’s retelling is that she doesn’t even use the word confidence. It’s as if she didn’t even know that’s what she was building. She was able to find a strategy that allowed her to be more confident on the phone without even realizing that’s what she had done.

Again, it’s important to note that everyone is different. For some, slapping a smile on their face is all they need to prepare for a confident call. If you’re struggling on the phones I’d suggest you try it as well. But know that if it doesn’t work, that’s completely fine. Confidence isn’t something that can be borrowed or copied from a colleague, so some introspection is probably going to be required.

Take some time to think about what exactly makes you insecure in your outreach. For example, if you’re someone who worries about all of the things that could go wrong, putting visual reminders around your workspace with positive affirmations might do the trick. If you feel like you lack the product knowledge to speak about it confidently, take the time to read the content your marketing team produces and connect with more senior team members who already have the knowledge you covet.

Everyone gains confidence in different ways, but it always involves becoming self-aware enough to address your insecurities about the role. If you don’t you’ll either remain timid or become irrationally confident (arrogant, cocky, etc.), neither of which leads to successful sales dev outreach.

By working with your manager, and more importantly yourself, you’ll be able to build your confidence over time, and ultimately reach your full potential as an SDR.

Building confidence is something every SDR has to do to improve their skillset, and knowing how others have done so is often the quickest route to doing it yourself. Check out the recap from our latest SDR Symposium – Building Confidence as an SDR, to hear from some of our in-house experts on the topic.

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alex ellison

Alex Ellison is the Marketing Communications Manager at demandDrive. He started his career as an SDR before discovering a passion for creating content and resources that drew him towards marketing. In his current role he primarily works behind the scenes drafting, editing, and developing a wide variety of marketing materials and educational resources. He is also currently enrolled at the University of Washington pursuing a Masters in Communication Leadership with a focus on Digital Media.
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