Internal Communication

May 4, 2021

☔ SDR Symposium | April, 2021

When you think about the role of an SDR, you can sum it up in a few different ways.

Helpful. Consultative. Resilient. Empathetic. Hard Working.

But one word, in our opinion, really sums up what an SDR does: Communicator.

Both externally through prospecting and internally through people management, SDRs are master communicators. And today, we’re focusing on the internal side of things.

💡 If you want some tips on external communication, our past symposiums on cold calling and cold email should do the trick!

As an SDR, the better you can work with your team and manager, the higher you can fly. Especially now that we’re all working from home, knowing how to effectively communicate with your team is crucial to getting your job done.

We tapped 2 managers and 2 SDRs for our symposium this month on internal communication. They walk through best practices, real-life examples, and advice to help you keep those lines consistent and transparent!

The Guests

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Hailee Lange

Sr. Director, Client Success

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Julia Williams

Client Success Manager

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Huzaifa Mahersi


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Jonathan Santos


📊 Oh, and we included audience polls for this month’s event! We dropped a few questions in for the SDRs listening to help guide the discussion. We’ll include those results when appropriate.

Looking for a video recap? We got you.

We kicked off our symposium by addressing the elephant in the room: COVID. Since we’ve been working from home, the way we communicate has shifted. In-person meetings and office pop-ins have been replaced by Zoom calls and Slack messages. So, we started off by asking our audience: How has your communication changed, and what (if any) has been a struggle during this WFH shift?

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Oddly enough, most of our reps said that things have remained pretty close to status quo. And all things considered, that’s remarkable. To have shifted so much in the past year+ and to have something as vital as internal communication remain the same? We had to dig deeper.

Julia credits our adoption of Slack to her success as a communicator. Not only is it the best method of replicating the quick band-and-forth of an office pop-in, but it also humanizes the messaging. Using emojis and gifs has changed what used to be a very dry and corporate experience into a personality-filled conversation.

Hailee, the ‘Slack Queen,’ couldn’t agree more. Not only is it humanizing, but it’s as real-time as you can get these days (outside of setting up a video call, but more on that later). Hailee is also a big proponent of the philosophy – “If you can reach me any time, I should be able to reach you any time.” Communication is a two-way street, and if an SDR expects their manager to respond at all hours of the day, the same can be said for the opposite. She does a great job at making that clear to her reps and keeping communication channels open.

On the SDR side of things, Jonathan had a great piece of advice: “Be a little more annoying than usual.” He’s been able to keep communication consistent by being proactive about it. You can’t just walk up to someone who hasn’t responded to your Slack message or email – you have to be more assertive. And if there’s one thing SDRs know, it’s persistence. Has your manager not responded to your Slack message? Send them an email. Not getting back to your email? Give them a call. Being multi-channel isn’t reserved for just external communication.

Huzaifa agrees, and one of his favorite ways of showing persistence is through calendar invites. Managers are busy – you have to give them the benefit of the doubt as to why they aren’t getting back to you. The best way to grab their attention and make sure you have dedicated time with them is to put it on their calendar. In the agenda section, he tosses in what he wants to cover – that way his manager has dedicated time on the calendar with him AND an idea of what he wants to talk about.

All that being said, communicating with your team isn’t always easy. Delayed responses, miscommunication, and internet issues were the top responses from our audience when asked about their biggest struggles.

Internet issues are something we can’t really address (unless you want to upgrade your whole team to high-speed internet 😂), but the other two are issues we can tackle.

We already touched on delayed responses a bit – the best way to combat that is with persistence. All of our managers were SDRs at one point in their careers, so everyone at demandDrive can leverage that experience and use those basic SDR skills on internal contacts. Being multi-channel, persistent, and (to be frank) a little annoying can go a long way to mitigating that delayed response issue.

As far as miscommunication, Hailee takes a more proactive approach to address that issue. Every morning at 9am she schedules a call with her entire team to level set for the day and get everyone on the same page. She runs through updates on her side of things and then covers each rep individually – updates on their end, questions they have, concerns, upcoming meetings, etc. For her, it starts every day off on the same note – a clear one. The transparency and consistency is great for her team and helps them clear anything up before starting their day, and it’s great for Hailee because she can prioritize her day around which reps need the most help and attention.

A common theme was brought up by our panel – proactivity is best, and if you want dedicated time you had better set up a meeting.

Julia said it best – Slack is multi-conversation communication, but meetings are 1 on 1. If you want dedicated and focused attention with your rep or manager, you have to get time on their calendars. Otherwise, the flurry of Slack and email notifications will distract even the most focused employee.

But not every message needs to be a meeting. So what should you proactively schedule a meeting for?

Julia reserves her calendar for meetings that cover tactical topics. Basically, any time the goals is learning/growth, get time on her calendar. That means role-plays, call shadowing, coaching sessions, etc. She knows that those sessions HAVE to be focused, so on the calendar they go.

Hailee agreed, and added that she prefers it if reps were proactive about the challenges they’re facing on a day-to-day basis. If you’re struggling to see results or haven’t produced at your top level for the month, seek out your manager and ask for feedback. If it can help avoid a more uncomfortable conversation in the future, get it on the calendar now and address it while there’s still time.

Managers can’t read their reps’ minds (talk about dreams), so if there’s a problem or concern it’s up to you as an SDR to bring it up. Hailee pointed out that you’re never ‘bothering’ your manager by finding time on their calendars for these types of situations. If anything it shows responsibility and accountability, and that over time you’re someone that a manager can grow to trust.

From the SDR side of things, Jonathan brought up the idea that meetings are great times to cover goals and expectations. These conversations require more than a quick back and forth on Slack, so dedicating time on the calendar is best to ensure both sides are on the same page. This eliminates any chance at miscommunication and gives both sides plenty of time to problem solve.

Huzaifa pointed out that he drops meetings on his manager’s calendar when the situation is time-sensitive. So even if it doesn’t NEED to be dedicated time, if it’s something that needs to be addressed by EOD then on the calendar it goes.

And as for how those meetings go…

Huzaifa is a big fan of agendas. He takes the initiative to write out an agenda for each meeting he sets up. It’s beneficial for both the SDR and Manager – the more you can prep someone on why you’re putting time on their calendar, the better. That way, if something is time-sensitive you can set expectations before-hand.

Hailee is also a fan of agendas, but mostly for her benefit. As a manager you’re juggling a lot of plates, so the more you can organize yourself before the meeting the better. She takes the time to write out an agenda so she knows what to cover during the meeting, but she doesn’t share it with her reps. Why? Hailee found that if she included an agenda in her all-team meeting, it discouraged reps from bringing up topics/concerns/questions that weren’t already on the agenda. By keeping her meetings ‘agenda free, ’ Hailee creates a free space for her reps to feel like they can ask her anything and talk about anything.

We talked a lot about the different types of technology that our reps leverage to keep in touch with their teams & managers.

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Slack was the most common (by far), followed by GChat, Video calls, and phone calls (talk about archaic!). What all of these channels have in common is their instantaneous nature – you can get real-time answers to your questions or concerns.

Not only is it real-time, but Slack is a more ‘human’ method of communication according to our panel. Adding custom emojis, gifs, and team channels really do a great job at replicating the ‘in-office’ energy & culture we lost while WFH. It was no surprise that it was the most popular channel for work communication.

Note: This sounds like an advertisement for Slack. It’s not – we just really love using it at dD!

Our panel talked a lot about communication expectations as well. As an SDR, what do you expect from management? And as a manager, what do you expect from your SDR team?

We touched on it a bit already, but something both sides expect is responsiveness. “If I’m available at all hours of the day, I expect the same from you.” But outside of that, we had a few interesting responses.

From Managers

Hailee and Julia want to be on top of everything all the time. They expect to hear from their SDRs every day – and if they don’t, expect a message from them! The success of the team really rides on open and consistent communication. Without it, there’s no way to address issues or concerns. How can you help someone if they don’t tell you what’s wrong?

Additionally, they fully expect reps to buy in and create a feedback loop. Helping their reps is one part of the loop – if they’re not doing their job as a manager or if they’re falling short in an area, they expect reps to tell them. Communication is a two-way street, and without feedback from the reps the managers go unchecked.

The relationship works best when there’s trust built between the two parties. Building that trust takes time, and without an understanding of one another and open lines of communication, it becomes impossible.

From SDRs

The SDRs on our panel had similar feelings. They expect that same comfort and trust to be able to speak their minds and know that it comes from a place of growth, not malice. Above all else, direct is better than vague. If you don’t articulate the problem, how is anyone going to help you solve it? The same can be said when managers communicate with their reps. It doesn’t help anyone by being vague, so get right to the point.

The SDRs on our panel also agreed that they expect their managers to be personal with them. Look at it as more than just an SDR <> Manager relationship. If you get to know each other on a personal level, building that trust becomes easier. And once you have that trust, it’s easy for both parties to be comfortable with one another. That can spur creativity, increase accountability, and promote transparency.

At the end of it all, our panel was asked to deliver one big piece of advice on internal communication. They all agreed on one thing in particular: Be proactive about everything. In a bit more detail…

  • You’re doing nobody favors if you struggle quietly in your little corner – ask for help. Use the resources around you. Take ownership of your role and work with your manager, not for them.

  • Both SDRs and managers need to be open to feedback. Learn from one another. Be open to building a relationship with each other.

  • Each party is only as successful as the other allows them to be. Communication is a two-way street.

Whether you’re an SDR or SDR Manager, proactivity and transparency win out 10 times out of 10. Remember that and you’ll see success!

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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