New year, new process, new territory. Over at InsightSquared, we recently shuffled around the structure of our sales team. Consequently, I found myself in a meeting room with a new team of fellow BDRs.
To supplement our typical interactions around the office, we went around the room and went over our names, colleges, and undergraduate majors. During that time, I was reminded of the varied backgrounds BDRs come from. Finance, Philosophy, and International Relations were amongst the fields of study that were mentioned as we went around the room.
I graduated from Northwestern University this past June after studying Psychology, Spanish and Creative Writing. Would that be considered a typical sales background? Probably not. Then again, of all the twenty-four BDRs I work with only one graduated with a major in sales.
Sales and Business Development managers are faced with a mixed bag when hiring and onboarding new members of their sales teams. Of course, most people entering into sales are competitive, hard working “people people.” However, having those characteristics doesn’t automatically make someone a good salesperson.
Entry level salespeople need the right management tactics to get fully ramped as quickly and effectively as possible. At the time of writing, I’m in my fifth month at InsightSquared, which is my first month as a fully ramped Business Development Representative.
Looking back on my time here so far, there are certain things my manager, Alex Michel, did to help ensure my success as a fully ramped BDR.
Fostering a Supportive Environment
During my interview, I asked my manager what sort of mentorship structure existed for the BDR role. She mentioned that, of course, she would mentor me directly, but mentorship is truly woven into the experience of the BDR role at InsightSquared.
Every day, I learn something new from Alex, from more tenured BDRs, from the Account Executives I source for, and from other leaders in sales. Throughout my ramp time and even now as a ramped rep, I’ve always been encouraged to plug into peoples’ calls and ask questions -- even if the question is why Starbucks is called “Bucky’s”, a nickname I still do not understand or use.
It’s really easy to feel like you’re operating on an island as a BDR, but working in an environment where collaboration is ingrained in the culture helps bridge the gap between getting stuck in ruts alone and continually progressing together.
Embodying the "Understanding Challenger"
I don’t think anyone would disagree with me if I said sales is hard and that the work of a BDR is especially challenging. That being said, a key aspect that helped me ramp successfully was how my manager embodied what I’ll call an “understanding challenger.”
To me, this means Alex understands the daily grind of the BDR life. She’s been in my shoes; she’s made seven hundred dials a day and sent out twelve thousand emails (this is an exaggeration but sometimes the grind can feel that staggering). Alex gets it.
She also understands that however challenging the grind may be, there’s always a bit more to give. I think being given the opportunity to air frustrations while also continually being encouraged to tweak and refine my process throughout the ramping process really set a solid foundation for how I approach my role.
Approaching Me as an Individual
Relating back to how varied the backgrounds of salespeople can be, what served me well during my time as a BDR so far is continually being met as an individual. Granted, every one of my peers is doing the same work with me with similar expectations and goals, but I feel like I’ve continually been approached as “Katie” and not like anyone else.
During my one on one meetings with my sales manager, I’m always asked for my specific challenges and what kind of training and practice would be helpful to address those specific needs. Whether I need more practice with mock calls, a review of the tools we use, or just need to go for a walk, grab a coffee, and talk about a hard call, there has always been room for that kind of support.
While a lot of the BDR role does revolve around numbers -- daily activity goals, monthly meeting goals, promotion tier progression and so on -- an important part of my productivity has been feeling like I’m not just a number.
Helping Me Establish “My Business”
A huge part of becoming a fully ramped BDR is the kind of mindset instilled in me by sales management. My sales director, Tom LoMedico, once said in a full team BDR meeting that “our territory is our business”. This ideology has since been echoed by my manager, Alex, quite a few times and has helped me really internalize my importance as an individual contributor.
No one else owns my territory, only I do. I have to prioritize, organize, and communicate effectively with the appropriate parties to successfully work through my territory. Understanding that sometimes things that happen within my business may not be “my fault” but I’m still ultimately responsible for whatever situation may arise within my business is an essential mindset to ensure success as a ramping and then fully ramped BDR.
From my experience, there is no prescribed background to determine who will be a successful BDR. During the near five months I’ve had at InsightSquared, I’ve learned that with specific pieces of advice, management approaches, and insightful mentalities anyone with a competitive spirit and serious work ethic can be put on the path for a successful trajectory in sales.
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