The father of the assembly line that brought the automobile to the world was Henry Ford.
His experiences building the first mass produced “engine” might hold some insights for us in the world of Sales Development.
My favorite quote of his was, “There are no big problems, there are just a lot of little problems.”
Quotes like this have power, because in many situations that we find ourselves in, there are immense opportunities for general truths to act as guiding lights in an otherwise difficult dark path we may find ourselves in.
And recently, as Eddy and I recorded our first podcast at Extrovert, we asked some folks that are part of the Extrovert community to weigh in on what type of content might be helpful. One of the answers struck me as insightful and daunting.
“Tell us more about your thoughts around the intangibles of career development.” –Sam Hirsche, SDR Manager at Adobe Workfront
So, to follow this advice, this post is about some “aphorisms” or timeless truths that lend themselves well to that end: mastering the intangibles of SDR work (and really any career from my point of view).
The main point is if you can find true principles that you can live by, you can face anything and grow toward any goal. This is how momentum is built, the type that leads to chain reactions.
Here are some of those aphorisms and how I see their connection to SDR work.
Simple is better.
If you have room to use 3 sentences to say something, just say it in one.
So for your emails, for your value props in LinkedIn, for your 1:1s with your boss, for your sync with your AE, find “occam’s razor” - the simplest answer is the best answer.
- use bullets
- avoid run-on sentences
- read what you are sending out loud to yourself before sending
- practice simplifying
Complexity is the enemy of execution.
If you can’t use a process in a repeatable way, it’s too complicated.
If it’s too complicated, you won’t continue to use it. And if you are not able to build a rhythm, you won’t go as far.
- timeblock your calendar to help you with your work
- use technology in simple and repeatable ways
- learn from top performers (do lunch? or zoom?)
- ask for feedback from your manager
- read a lot
Perfect is the enemy of good.
Just start. It's easy to think you have to find the only, best outcome. That's not true. You might realize that your perfectionism isn't actually helping anyone, it's only hurting you.
Doing the "right things" a little wrong, is better than doing "wrong things" really right.
- ask yourself if doing the extra mile is going to actually move the needle
- get in habits of limiting how much time you have to do something
- put first things first (even if they suck) and try to do them before other things
- use the 7 Habits skills from Covey - measure things by urgency and importance
Mistakes are the growing pains of wisdom.
You can’t grow to know things without ingesting information, and you can’t grow in wisdom without making mistakes.
- volunteer for helping with extra projects
- make more cold calls and do call coaching with whoever the best person is around
- ask for your AE to tell you where you can improve
- keep a journal of people who helped you or mistakes you made
Don’t confuse the “message” with the “delivery” of the message.
It’s easy to be offended when we don’t like how someone talks to us. Find the maturity to hear what it is they are saying as the primary goal in your communication.
- ask clarifying questions about what they mean
- show that you listened to the meat of the message as the priority in communication
- examine internally if there is anything from the past that might have made you feel how you are feeling about the way someone talked with you
The only thing worse than making decisions in the absence of data is making decisions with incorrect data.
Make the effort to gather data or work with someone who can as you make decisions. Don’t assume “having data” = “data-driven decisions” (it’s about insights). Inaccurate data is a plague and an epidemic simultaneously.
- be cautious about “weaponizing” data you found
- learn how the funnel of marketing and sales works
- be friends with the analytics team so they can teach you stuff
- be nice to all operations people so they can give you stuff
People mistake the finish line for the destination: the act itself is the destination.
Every SDR wants to get promoted right after onboarding. Some realize the value of the time they spend in the role, and those who do make it farther in future roles.
- remember that each day counts - have a goal for making your first dial by 8:00 am
- develop friendships with people in other departments
- be easy to work with
- take good notes and share them to the group
- propose next steps and ensure you don’t waste people’s time
- do what you say you are going to do
Pay it forward.
As others have helped you, find others you can help.
- mentor new hire SDRs
- volunteer in your community
- donate money to charity now (start small and make it a habit)
- give people the benefit of the doubt
- don’t create enemies (tech is a small world)
- givers get back more than they give
The only people who remember the extra hours you worked when you didn't need to are your friends and family.
Work life balance is a tricky thing, but the decision to prioritize it is one of the best things you can do.
- don't do too many random extra things in your first bit at a new job (wrong expectation)
- sign off at the same time no matter what
- write down where you got to
- set "screen time" settings on your phone
- take time off regularly
- don't let work bleed into home life
"Whole ass" one thing, instead of "half assing" everything
Pardon my french, but this is a Travis Henry-ism (my boss at Snowflake) that has paid big dividends for me. Don't take on too many things at once. Multi-tasking may be fine, but being stretched too thin across too many tasks at once creates a lack of productivity.
- manage your chrome tabs
- set boundaries and expectations for timelines of work
- make use of your time around what matters most
- learn your strengths and lean into them
The impact you make is often yours to choose. You write your own story. Focus on logic vs. emotion with others, but let your emotions come to the surface often––they can teach you much.
Find principles that matter to you, make a vision board, write a vision statement, set goals regularly, be accountable to yourself, and remember to review these things often.
Some of my principles
Here is a taste of the guiding principles I live by (I keep mine short so I can remember):
Vision + Mission Statement combined: “We can”
- Short enough that it can mean anything, important enough to mean everything - “we” (together) “can” (optimism)
Core Values: “Learning, loving, wellness, prospering”
- Learn (plant the seed) - read, advance in understanding, study, believe
- Love (develop charity) - serve, donate, inspire, bless others
- Wellness (growth) - health, discipline, long-term thinking, relationships
- Prosper (wealth) - self-reliance, entrepreneur, financial goals