Sales Development Leaders: Help Your Reps Stay Positive

I think everyone, no matter their background, has heard an inspirational quote around the importance of keeping a good attitude.

stop giving up

Initially, it sounds like a simple task. But at times — like the end of a down month — can be extremely difficult for both you and your sales team.

I played sports growing up, and with Super Bowl 50 just around the corner, it seems fitting to draw a parallel.

Even if you’ve never watched a game of football in your life, it wouldn’t surprise me if you were familiar with names like Joe Montana, Jerry Rice or Berry Sanders — and I’m confident in saying that because they played “skilled” positions. They get the glory.

hep reps stay positiveNow what if I were to ask you to name an offensive linemen? Go ahead, I’ll wait…

Those close to the game could argue that a skilled O-Line is the reason teams win games. But you’ll (probably) never see their names in the newspaper, or they’ll (probably) never get asked to do the post-game interview.

My point here is: Although they don’t always get the recognition, they are essential to the success of their team. If they aren’t doing their job, the quarterback doesn’t have time to throw, or the running back doesn’t have anywhere to run. However you spell it out, it all relies on them.

You could argue that sales development reps (SDRs) could be considered the “Offensive Line” of companies.  Not only are they responsible for finding and qualifying opportunities (pass/run block), they are typically not the ones who receive recognition for the deals that are closed.

What this Means for Sales Development Leaders

I’ve held several positions throughout my sales career (currently in an SDR role), and the one thing that know I have complete control over is my attitude. Research already shows that attitude affects performance, but a positive attitude will also help reps be more motivated to:

  • Refine sales skills: What I do on a daily basis (place calls/have meaningful conversations/set up qualified opportunities) – those activities will never leave me throughout my sales career. No one gets to the top of their field without putting in the practice, and keeping an upbeat attitude motivates me to constantly get coaching from sales leaders to learn and improve upon skills.  
  • Add knowledge: On a weekly basis, I talk to more potential prospects than any other person in my company. Of course I try to sell our product, but I also listen to what’s going on in the market. What sort of trends do I notice? What other tools do companies have in their sales stack?  All of this knowledge helps me to provide solutions to clients and gain credibility for my company. For me, this adds the human element to sales. It’s rewarding to know that my prospect was experiencing some sort of pain, and I was able to help alleviate that. If I don’t have the right attitude going into the call, I doubt I’ll be able to find that solution.  

As sales leaders, it’s important to find ways to keep your team motivated. The SDR role is a grind, and at times can get discouraging.

Help your reps maintain a positive attitude and break the week up by doing things like:

  • Running spiffs or small contests with incentives
  • Holding group round-robin outreach sessions
  • Having daily stand-ups to address issues and recognize great performance
  • Planning team outings to foster camaraderie and collaboration

Salespeople are naturally competitive, so try and use that to your advantage. When SDRs maintain a positive attitude, they are more likely to master their role, which will pay dividends for your sales organization in the future.

Being an SDR isn’t the “prettiest” role within a company, but is vital to its success. And as an SDR, you’re left with 2 choices: embrace your role, have fun, hone your skills and acquire as much knowledge as possible…or don’t, and be miserable.

I always go with “embrace,” which leads me to think of myself as the “sales” version of Liam Neeson when talking to potential prospects:


“…what I do have are a very particular set of skills, skills I have acquired over a very long career.”

Which option will your reps go with?

Helping reps maintain a positive attitude starts with hiring the right people. Get advice SDR hiring from top sales experts when you grab a copy of our eBook:

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Sales Development Leaders: Help Your Reps Stay Positive
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Sales Development Leaders: Help Your Reps Stay Positive
Sales development reps (SDRs) could be considered the “Offensive Line” of companies, responsible for finding and qualifying opportunities like a pass.
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