Ah, the age-old question. “What exactly does a Sales Development Rep do?”
Ok, so maybe it’s not “age-old,” but it’s a question that both our SDRs and recruiters get daily, and it’s an answer that goes far beyond just “I work in sales.”
We caught up with Alec Bargebuhr and Nat Luger — two of our SDRs working with brands and mid-market retailers — to share a little about their experience working at ChannelAdvisor and software sales.
What does your typical day-to-day look like?
Alec: For my first 15-30 minutes it’s headphones/music on and planning for the day: looking over my calendar, seeing what I’ll be doing and when and noting scheduled calls or meetings. After that I work on the ongoing training, go through any emails or tasks that ran over from yesterday or came in overnight and lastly, move on to looking over my accounts and which ones I want to call today. I work on the Mid-Market team, so my day is focused around talking to mid-market retailers interested in improving their e-commerce strategies.
We generally all start call blocks around 9:30 or 10 a.m. and go until lunch with the goal of getting around 15-20 calls in. Around 11:45, Nat and I will argue about where we want to eat, make a few more calls, then grab lunch around 12:30.
After lunch, I usually have a couple of emails to send and then get back into calling prospects until I hit my number for the day. In the afternoons I generally have two or three scheduled calls and one or two discovery calls to introduce and sit in on. That’s the general outline, but our schedule can vary from day to day, which I really like.
Nat: On the Brands team, things are a little bit different in terms of our process. In e-commerce, brands (branded manufacturers) are the businesses that actually make the products they sell, so it’s a slightly different conversation than with a pure retailer.
I come in the office and immediately start making calls (I’ll get back to this one). I like doing this because it leads me to having a more productive morning. I think of it like making my bed — when you do it it’s a productive way to start the day, nobody likes doing it, but you’re happier once it’s done. I go to lunch with the goal of having around 20-30 calls in—because I’m competitive with Alec—and we usually call more contacts on the Brands team anyways. Around 11:45 Alec and I will argue about where we want to eat, make a few more calls, then take an hour for lunch around 12:30.
After lunch, I usually put on some music or a podcast and for about an hour I prospect in our CRM by going through my accounts for the afternoon, checking past activity history and familiarizing myself a bit with who I’m about to call. When you front-load your mornings you can focus a bit more on the accounts you feel would be most fruitful in the afternoon. Like Alec, I have scheduled calls and discovery (or “discos” as we call them) most afternoons, as well as meetings and trainings from time to time. Honestly, we have quite a flexible schedule as long as you get your calls and emails in.
Sounds like you guys are pretty busy! What attracted you to this job?
Alec: I came from a sales and marketing background, so I was already set on a sales role when I first considered ChannelAdvisor. I love the challenge of it, and it’s a great way to have the support of an established company while performing in an entrepreneurial role. At ChannelAdvisor, our job is much more strategic and calculated than other sales positions — with great opportunities to grow your skill set and career. I was strongly considering another sales role at a company with a much simpler product who had extremely aggressive daily call quotas. Their pitches were very canned and everything was very transactional. ChannelAdvisor’s products are very complex, and it’s completely normal to have a 45-minute conversation with a prospect before they decide to even move forward into the sales cycle. We build relationships and have deep business conversations.
Nat: I had just graduated from Appalachian State, and I knew I wanted to work in the “digital space” and was introduced to some people at ChannelAdvisor. E-commerce is an extremely dynamic industry. I’m hard-pressed to not learn something new every single day I’m in the office. I’m the type of person who loves to learn and be enriched by what I’m doing, and I felt that this was a good opportunity to do that. To Alec’s point, we really are consultants as well as salespeople. We certainly initiate the sales process. But at the end of the day, people understand that ChannelAdvisor brings a certain expertise to the table. More often than not, when you get someone on the phone, they’re willing to have an in-depth e-commerce/overall business strategy conversation with you. This teaches us an immense amount about e-commerce but also about different verticals, different types of businesses and organizations and overall conversational skills.
What’s the most challenging thing about being an SDR?
Alec: It requires a high degree of endurance and discipline. It’s easy to have one great month — replicating that success consistently is the big challenge. Everyone has hot stretches and cold stretches. Minimizing and powering through those cold stretches can be rough.
Nat: Picking up the phone every morning. Activity leads to success but it’s also the toughest part of the job.
What advice would you give to someone in their first sales role?
Alec: Be yourself but be self-aware. People can tell when you’re faking it and only want to talk to someone whose motives are sincere. With that said, you need to be honest with yourself regarding your process, your pitch, your skills — what works for you and what doesn’t. The people who are successful here are humble and consistently work at improving their knowledge and skills.
Nat: Learn and listen. Don’t be arrogant and talk over people. There’s always room to be humble, learn and listen a little better — both on and off the phone.
What’s your favorite part about working at ChannelAdvisor?
Alec: The people. It’s a cliché answer, but we have a high degree of camaraderie in our department. And that’s not something easily replicable in a competitive environment.
Nat: In short — the people and the culture. Also, we get free beer from time to time. I like beer. And free things.
Interested in pursuing a career in sales? Do you also like awesome people who work hard and have a good time doing it? Want to meet Alec and Nat? Well you’re in luck because you (yes, YOU!) are cordially invited to meet the guys (and the rest of the team!) this coming Thursday, August 25. Join us for food, drinks, games, prizes and industry advice from the best in the biz.