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SDR Secret Sauce: 7 Productivity Hacks From a Former SDR

Like many folks in the SaaS world, my first job out of college was as a Sales Development Representative (SDR). At the time, it seemed like a great gig. Cool company, decent pay, good benefits, etc. I figured: why not? 

What I didn’t realize at the time was how hard this job actually is. 

Not only are you the first human point of contact at your company for potential customers, you have to:

  • Juggle competing pressures to hit quota

  • Appease account executives

  • Source new pipeline

  • Vet leads

  • Execute quality discovery calls 

It’s a lot for one person to do. 

In my two years as an SDR, I developed some hacks to aid in my day-to-day and attain somewhat manageable stress levels. Read on to learn my secret sauce for maximum productivity as a SDR.  

7.) Time-Block 

I know, time-blocking feels like an overhyped suggestion from micromanagers, but there’s actually science behind it. According to Parkinson’s Law, work tends to expand to fit the time allotted to complete it. 

So, if you decide you’re going to spend the day prospecting and don’t specifically allot time for it, odds are you’re going to come up with biographies on three people instead of SparkNotes on 20. 

6.) Respect funnel math 

Quick disclaimer: By no means am I advocating for the “spray and pray” approach to outreach. But there is some validity to the basic tenets of funnel math. The more people you put in the top of your funnel, the more successes you’ll have come out at the bottom. 

You know that person who's been sitting in the last stage of your cadence for three weeks? Move on from them. Your time is much better spent ensuring that you’re adding 10 new people to your day-one step than nurturing people who clearly have no intention of engaging with you. 

5.) Personalize at scale 

Josh Braun has this compelling philosophy on personalization that essentially goes something like this, “You don’t need to personalize, you need to be personal.” 

And I’ve largely found this to be true in my SDR career. At the end of the day, if your solution doesn’t speak to a prospect’s unique pain points, who cares if the two of you attended the same college? 

SDRs often waste time trying to learn everything about a prospect’s professional and personal life, and nine times out of ten, it comes off as creepy rather than thoughtful. If you understand your prospect’s problems and can produce evidence that your solution solves those problems, you can skip the LinkedIn stalking. 

4.) Tag good numbers 

I can’t tell you how many times myself or former teammates have been called out for not making enough dials. The excuse is always the same, right? “I don’t have good numbers!” 

While tools like ZoomInfo and LeadIQ may serve as a decent starting point, the reality is you’re not going to have a working phone number for every single person in your cadence.

If you’ve completed your cadence steps for the day and are short on dials, start tagging contacts you know have good numbers in your sales automation platform and hit that list up at the end of the day. This will dramatically increase your chances of connecting. 

3.) Qualify on the phone 

We’ve all been there. You’ve made 100 dials and no one has picked up, until, BAM! You’ve got someone on the line. You’re so excited that you word-vomit your pitch and manage to secure a demo, only to rush your prospect off the phone in the interest of “respecting their time.” 

News flash: If someone stays on the phone after you explain the reason for your call, you’ve got their attention for at least a few minutes. Set the meeting, but then go back and ask your qualification questions casually while you have your prospect on the line. 

This will save you and your AE a lot of time and headache ahead of the demo. 

2.) Start your morning with batting practice 

Fun fact about me: I hate role-playing. Especially in front of a bunch of people. But while this may seem like some artfully designed torture method, it’s really valuable to do some at-bats before you head into a call block.

Back in the day, my teammates and I would book a room first thing in the morning and role play some common objections and call scenarios just to shake off the dust. 

By the time we started making dials, we’d already gotten into the swing of things and were ready.  

1.) Automate your handoff 

It’s a tale as old as time. You book a meeting for the next AE in the round robin, only to discover that person is on vacation for the next week. Then you frantically pull up ten different people’s calendars, trying to find out who’s available for a meeting. 

Manual handoff is probably one of the biggest SQL killers out there. If you’ve got someone who’s interested but can’t find an AE to take the meeting, what’s the point? 

Luckily, there’s tools like Chili Piper’s Instant Booker to automate the handoff to AEs. 

Looking for more advice on how to execute a smoother handoff? Check out Handoff With Their Heads: a Lead Routing Graphic Novel