10 Ways to go from SDR to AE in 12 Months

Last updated: 07-29-2019

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10 Ways to go from SDR to AE in 12 Months

Salespeople are always looking for ways to shortcut success. Some get lucky, but luck can’t be relied on consistently. The following ten attributes are ways to differentiate yourself when starting in sales and quickly climb the ladder.

 1. Be relentless Yeah, I get it; you've heard this one before. But, are you as relentless as the top salesperson in the company? The first step is defining what relentless means. How many calls, new meetings, or pipeline opportunities does relentless equate to? By quantifying your daily activities, the next step is to target your efforts on the activities that generate revenue. Little point turning up, working hard, and achieving little.

If you want to hear how I did it, listen to this podcast with Anthony Iannarino.

2. See opportunity where others don't The best salespeople see opportunity everywhere, not just in their assigned territories. There may be a new position at the company, an unassigned account with revenue potential, or a new product in the pipeline that will change the game. They even see the opportunity in being relentless. A holistic view to opportunities can shortcut the standard career path by years.

"Identify business and networks others don't see, and be a valuable source of customer intelligence in your company." (tweet)

3. Learn faster If reading books and attending courses bores you, then build in a process of collaboration with others prepared to share what they have learnt. You must quickly learn to differentiate yourself from the crowd, and standard sales techniques won't teach you this. Focus on the soft skills that all SDRs lack, such as how to sell to different buyer personas, manage your ego with difficult customers, and acquire the mindset of top performers.

"Each week, set aside time to learn new skills and learn from successful people." (tweet)

4. Smash your targets The single best way to get noticed and promoted is to smash your targets. However, at the same time, don't fall into the “look at me” category and let success go to your head. Sales is a great leveller, and you are not a true top salesperson until you have repeated your success. It is far more powerful to smash your target consistently and remain humble. If you aren't likeable, you aren't getting promoted.

"You are only as good as your last deal. The most successful salespeople balance over-achievement with humility." (tweet)

5. Understand the most effective channels of communication The fastest way to communicate with a customer is by phone. However, have multiple client communication strategies in place. Use social networks to find reasons to call, research your customer, and if appropriate, begin a conversation. Understand the fastest way to get a meeting is a well-placed phone call. Practice the skill of concisely communicating your value proposition by phone.

"Top salespeople can concisely communicate their message in any format and under any circumstances." (tweet)

6. Make efficient use of your time Socialising is fun, as is office gossip, but your early career is the time to show your potential. Maintain a professional persona and surround yourself with successful people who can help you overcome obstacles and teach you how to sell. Use your weekends and evenings to prepare for the week ahead and demonstrate your commitment to the company and exceeding the targets.

"Time is a salesperson’s most valuable resource. Focus most of your time on revenue generating activities." (tweet)

7. Don't get negatively typecast Sales is a complex profession that takes years to master. In the early days, don't try to buck the system, because you don't want to be seen as a pain. Your job is simple, to learn as much as possible, demonstrate potential, be likeable and reliable, and overachieve on your targets. I once had an SDR ask me for help then argue with everything I said. My response is perfectly summarised in the clip below…

8. Set non-revenue goals Being an SDR is a good training ground for your career. It's where you develop your personal approach to selling and work on high volumes of low value accounts. This allows you to make mistakes, without the risk of damaging your territory. As you rise in seniority and the stakes rise, you will remember this stage of your career as the time you drilled skills, screwed-up consistently, and learnt to handle rejection. There is no better introduction to selling than starting in telesales.

"Being an SDR is the perfect training ground to develop and hone your sales skills and lay the foundation for future success." (tweet)

9. Be better than everyone else Sales is a competitive game with winners and losers. Even if you work in a team-selling group commission environment, the people who stand-out are the people who move-up (or on). It's that simple. I have worked in teams where we all loved and respected each other, but the truth is the person generating the most revenue is the dominant player and has the most opportunities. Encourage your teammates and conduct yourself with integrity, but understand there is more to winning the game than hitting the company target.

"Being a top salesperson isn't about being 1% better than you were yesterday; it's about being 1% better than everyone else." (tweet)

10. When the going gets tough, dig in… Lack of revenue isn't a good enough reason to leave a company. This is the time to assert yourself and change the situation. Poor management, no progression, lack of purpose, these are reasons to leave, but if you leave, understand why the role didn't work out and don't make the same mistakes again. Above all else, enjoy the ride.

Being an SDR is a golden period. Use this time to understand how you respond when the chips are down. To learn how I navigated a 15-year career from SDR to Account Executive in 6 months, and then from AE to top salesperson globally in my industry, check out my book The No.1 Best Seller. Also, join my mailing list at leebartlettbestseller.com to stay informed of my new sales training system released in Fall 2017.

If you value this article, please share it. If you haven't yet received my 2017 research paper, it discusses the differences between selling in the UK vs. the USA, as well as how digital networks are impacting multinational businesses differently on each side of the pond. Download from the homepage.

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