Your SDR Team: Are You Cultivating a Team of Tom Bradys or Jay Cutlers?

By November 19, 2015
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Being a Sales Development Representative (SDR) in Silicon Valley can be ruthless. Cold calls, outbound prospecting, and constant rejection weeds out the winners and losers in SDR-land. It’s a true grind that can beat you up when you’re not doing well, and will make you feel like you’re on top of the world when you’re doing 150% of your number.

Chances are, first-time SDRs are going to struggle at some point and will end up having some hard days dealing with consistent hang ups, no call-backs, and angry people on the other end of the line. It’s the job of an SDR manager to cultivate a winning team with a positive attitude in the face of a tough job with a lot of rejection.

NFL quarterbacks and SDRs have a lot in common. They are both commanders of their territory. SDRs try to connect with prospects in the same way that quarterbacks throw passes to their wide receivers. And a touchdown can be compared to an opportunity flipped by an Account Executive. An NFL quarterback has to maintain good relations with his offensive line, just like a good SDR maintains a good pipeline.

The list goes on, and with football season nearing it’s height, I’ve been thinking about which current NFL quarterbacks resemble the most common types of SDRs.

Peyton Manning


Consistent.  This is the SDR that always hits her number. Peyton has great receivers, just like this SDR has a hidden excel pipeline spreadsheet of the best prospects she’s nurtured with content. This SDR doesn’t back down when the prospect says “contact me next year” or “let’s sync up in 3 months”. This gal puts time on the prospect’s calendar and does her due diligence before she pics up the phone. She connects on LinkedIn and doesn’t get frustrated when she has to reschedule a couple times.

SDR Managers love this employee because she comes to work with a great attitude and grinds all day on the phones–crafting personalized emails and putting the extra effort in when the team is struggling. The one thing to be weary of is, much like Peyton Manning, this SDR needs structure. Have her utilize prospecting tools like SalesLoft and she’ll stay organized and successful.

Jay Cutler

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At the opposite end of the spectrum, you might have a Jay Cutler on your team. Jay had a couple of okay years in Denver, which got him a huge contract in Chicago–but ultimately, he’s just not cutting it. His offensive line isn’t helping, as Jay finds himself on the grass more than he’d like. Plus, yelling at the blockers afterwards doesn’t help his case either.

This SDR tends to think he’s doing everything right. He’s making the calls, sending the emails, and has a pretty good talk-track. But over the past couple months, he hasn’t hit quota, and that has ruffled some feathers. Ultimately, he looks like he’s not going to be able to get past the negativity. If you have this SDR, help him get through it. These guys can often have a lot of potential. Invest more time in your training program for the next SDR, and proceed with this Jay Cutler SDR by getting him more face time with upper management, in order to try and make him feel like he’s a part of something bigger.

 Colin Kaepernick

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Colin Kaepernick had a unique situation. He took over for the 49ers 8-year quarterback Alex Smith during his injury and had a grand entrance into the NFL with his explosive speed and arm strength. This is an SDR that had an initial couple of months of ramp quota and absolutely crushed it. The SDR was doing 130% of her number and thinks it’s going to translate well even after the ramp period, but things take a turn for the worst. Her process, much like Kaep’s throwing mechanics, is fundamentally flawed, which results in being either really hot or really cold.

Sure, the 49ers made it to the Super Bowl back in 2012, but they have fallen flat since. Any SDR can survive for a couple months with her own method of prospecting and keeping track of her pipeline, but if she doesn’t have a solid foundation behind the method, she will inevitably falter. Set your SDRs up for success by helping to grow that foundation. Make sure your Colin Kaepernick SDR is listening to her manager, following the 7×7 email/call cadence, and learning as much as possible from her peers.

Tom Brady

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A Tom Brady is the best kind of SDR you can have. No matter if the SDR onboarding process is highly developed, or just getting off the ground, a Tom Brady SDR uses what he has in front of him to get the job done. He is always leading the pack in metrics and he helps the newest team members learn the process as fast as possible.

He’s someone an SDR manager never wants to lose, but it’s inevitable that your Tom will get promoted to an Account Executive–winning the championship. It was recently reported that the real Tom Brady was caught by his wife studying game film at 3:30 in the morning. The Tom Brady SDR always puts in the extra effort; he gets in early, leaves late, but more importantly, he’s highly efficient and collaborative with other teams to get a broader perspective on the product. Tom Brady has more foresight than any other quarterback in the league for a reason–he’s passionate about what he does. Tom Brady didn’t look like a NFL-caliber quarterback when he was drafted out of Michigan in the 6th round, but he wanted it so badly he was going to do whatever it took to get there. The work ethic of this SDR is second to none and he proves his worth to the nay-sayers in numbers, leading his team to the SDR Hall of Fame.

What does your SDR team look like?


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