On Quora, someone once asked, "What advice would you give to a new sales development representative when they first get hired?" This was my advice:
Congratulations on starting your sales career! You’re joining generations of experts whose selling efforts have made the world go ‘round. Among us, I assure you there are more good apples than bad apples, and our expectations of you are very high.
We want the best version of you representing yourself, and us, throughout your career. Along the way, learn as if you’re to teach someone what you’ve learned - this will keep you thinking about others, instead of yourself.
Refer to these pieces of advice regularly on your journey, and you’ll become one of our best.
#1 Attitude is everything. Whether you realize it or not, you are always setting an example. Your boss and peers may never tell you, but they’re watching and noticing everything about you; just as you’re doing to them.
How do you want to be seen? As the one who enters a room and sucks the life out of it, or the one who enters like a beam of warm sunlight? People surround themselves with those who lift their spirits, help them realize their potential, and make them feel good. Adjust your attitude so it sheds light.
#2 Take notes at every opportunity, and use them to take action. Do not trust your memory and charm to carry you. The sales development experience is an incredible period of learning and development. Take a pen and a small scratch pad or notebook everywhere.
People say powerful one-liners, share advice in the moment, and comment on the industry all the time. Listen for the patterns and look for them in your notes - they’ll provide perspective, so you can repurpose content in your qualification calls, blog posts, emails, and presentations. This, in turn, will build your rapport and credibility. Take notes.
#3 Stay in the present. I hate to break it to you, but it’s all going to work out in the end. Relish in the now, and cherish each moment as a gift. There’s no doubt you’ll want to escape the repetition of daily phone calls, email threads, qualifying lead after lead, and researching account after account. Instead, embrace the grind. Master the craft.
When Michael Jordan was busy becoming Michael Jordan, he shot thousands of free throws over and over again, by himself, and made minor tweaks per shot to improve his game. Sow meaningful seeds now, and reap the meaningful benefits later. Stay in the present.
#4 Decide today to be successful in your career. Work hard to master the skills you learn as a sales development rep. Get acquainted with who has come before you, how the best stay the best, and how you will contribute to the profession. When sales gets a bad rap, it’s because of those that chose to dismiss this step.
If you sell to businesses (B2B) or consumers (D2C), study how successful companies make those sales. Visit their sites, fill out their forms, talk to their people. Experience what their prospects and customers experience and then model the process.
Unless you decide to be successful in your career, you will be average, at best. Winners aren’t average.
#5 Add value and you will become valuable. “Adding value” can occur in many shapes and forms. New sales development reps add value by listening to prospects in the marketplace, reaching out to prospects when the time is right, and engaging prospects with relevant insights and ideas about them.
Your smile, your handshake, your concise emails and voicemails, your attention, your open-ended questions, your patience, and your help all illustrate value. Little things make the big things happen. The more value you add to the world, the more valuable you will become.
If you don’t yet believe in yourself, we do. You were hired as a sales development rep for a reason. You have unique strengths and gifts that no one else brings to the table. Work hard to contribute those strengths and gifts and you will have a ball. Now, get to work!