Mind Over Matter

June 22, 2021

The Mindset to Adopt for Sales Development Success

We often talk about how difficult the role of the SDR is. Facing constant rejection, trying to convince people to part with a resource as precious as time, and educating prospects on the value of your solution is no easy task.

And yet for some reps, it just *clicks*

What are they doing that their peers aren’t?

Did they unlock the secrets to the perfect subject line? Are they using newer, better technology? Have they perfected their pitch?

We don’t think it’s any of those things (in a vacuum).

We think the best SDRs are the best because they’ve adopted the right mindset.

The SDRs who manage the mental aspect of sales are able to ramp up faster than their peers and see success early and often.

🤔 What does it take to adopt this mindset?

🔍 Who’s responsible for doing so?

👤 Can anyone be successful?

Let’s dig into some resources around building & cultivating that mindset on your own.

Symposium Recap

We kicked off June with a discussion around building & cultivating the right mindset for SDRs.

Our symposium saw 2 SDRs and 2 Managers talk through their takes on what it means to have the “right” mindset.

Why did we choose to focus our discussion on mindset?

Because SDRs who can manage the mental aspect of sales and focus on growing with the role have a much higher success rate than those who let the role consume them.

Our panel really dug into 3 key areas:

💪 Preparation

😎 Building Confidence

🌎 Understanding the Role of an SDR

In the recap above we dig into why each one of those is crucial for not just building & cultivating that mindset, but for overall success within the role as well.

If you’re an SDR and you see yourself starting to slip, use this guide as a reminder of what you should be doing to see success.

If you’re a manager and you see your reps struggling to make that jump from a C or B-level rep to an A-level rep, use this guide to nudge them in the right direction.

Read: Mind Over Matter

SDR You a Fit?

Speaking of moving from a C or B-level rep to an A-level rep, we have a first-hand story of what it looks like when an SDR lacks two major components of success: Mindset and Strong Qualification Skills.

When a rep lacks both, conversations end up going nowhere.

They follow a similar formula:

Personal Statement + Product Pitch + Standard Questions = Ask For a Meeting.

The problem? Not every conversation will go just like that 👆

You have to prepare for the zigs and the zags. If someone’s not the right fit, don’t push on with your pitch anyway.

If the prospect doesn’t answer your qualification questions as expected, don’t just barrel through and ask for a meeting.

There’s a certain level of tact required for success as an SDR – and the reps with the right approach & mindset understand that.

Read: SDR You a Fit?

Don’t JUST Be a Dashboard Manager

The same goes for SDR Managers – cultivating the right mindset for success starts with them.

And yet, a lot of managers end up falling into the camp of dashboard managers – focusing almost all of their efforts on making sure the numbers look good.

Looking at dashboards and reports alone doesn’t give you enough insight into the performance of your team.

And it certainly doesn’t impart the right mindset for success. By focusing on the numbers and using them as the sole barometer for success, your reps will get the wrong impression about how the job is supposed to be done.

The best SDRs take time out of their day to learn and grow, tweak their messaging, and experiment with new processes.

Because they know that what works today won’t always work – you have to be adaptable. You have to iterate. You have to grow.

The best SDRs know this. Those who don’t need to see and hear it from you – their leaders.

Go Beyond Dashboard Management

Tad’s Takes

Tad Bustin couldn’t agree with the above point more. His experience as a former SDR and now Manager has led him to believe in something very strongly: it starts at the top.

To cultivate the right mindset for your SDR team, you need to be the one setting an example.

That means setting up 1-on-1 sessions with them to communicate exactly what you’re expecting them to accomplish, offering yourself up as a resource, and showing them the pathways to success.

Without you as a manager to guide them, it’s difficult for an SDR (especially if they just graduated from college as many reps have) to navigate what’s expected of them beyond what the job description entails.

The more involved you can be in shaping their pathway at your company, the more bought in they’re going to be on the role. And when an SDR buys into the role and really understands the impact they can have, good things happen.

Watch: 5 Questions with Tad Bustin

Think Like a Salesperson

think like a salesperson

This idea of mindset and how SDRs can set themselves up for success isn’t a recent phenomenon – it’s something that’s existed for the past few years at least.

And one of the key tenets of that mindset is differentiating the flavor of growth – either one of seniority or one of meritocracy.

The traditional path of SDR to AE isn’t as simple as it looks on paper, but a lot of SDRs think (and have been told) that it’s an easy next step.

“Grind it out as an SDR for 9 months and we’ll consider promoting you to the AE role.”

👆 That’s an example of growth by seniority.

The problem with using time as an indicator of advancement? It’s not an indicator of skill.

Just because you did the job for 9 months doesn’t mean you CAN be an AE. Sales development and sales aren’t the same job.

There are a lot of foundational skills you can build as an SDR to prepare yourself for the AE role.

The ability to source your own accounts, having a deep understanding of the value your solution brings to each persona, and knowing where to find relevant product/industry information will take you far as an SDR (and farther as an AE).

👆 SDRs that look to learn as much as possible to prepare themselves for the next step in their careers are showcasing a mindset of meritocracy.

Don’t you want an SDR who doesn’t take anything for granted, and works at honing their craft every day?

Event Recording & Recap Blog

Take Ownership Of Your Prospecting

Stop me if you’ve heard this one:

“My manager asked me to reach out your way…”

“My VP would love to get in touch with you about…”

SDRs often rely on the clout and authority of their superiors to open up a conversation.

They think that without it, nobody would give them the time of day. After all, they’re just SDRs.

Bah humbug! You’re better off taking responsibility for your prospecting instead of leaning on your higher-ups.

You end up hurting your own credibility and doing more harm than good.

Opt In to learn some tactics for self-confidence and prospecting preparation as an SDR!

Learn To Listen

Let’s say an SDR calls you. They’re really excited to pitch their solution because you look like a perfect fit. You’re interested, so you ask a question…and they ignore it.


Active listening isn’t just a good life skill to have, it’s vital for SDRs.

Knowing what really matters to your prospects doesn’t come from the research you’ve done – it’s based on what they’re telling you on the phone. It’s embedded in the conversation.

And if you’re not reacting in a way that shows you care, you understand what they’re saying, and you can pivot the conversation in that direction…what’s the difference between you and a cold calling robot?

Opt in to ditch the script, work on your active listening skills, and grow from the no’s.

Mindset means different things for different people. It could be a rep who’s resiliently positive. It could be a rep who’s committed to self-development and growth. It could be a rep with meticulous attention to detail.

Whatever it means to you, one thing is clear: identifying and developing that mindset is key to long-term success.

What do you think? Drop us a line and continue the conversation.

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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