Sales Scoop: How I Went from SDR to AE in One Year (Doing Personalization and the Little Things Right)

Fly Blind: To do something based on guesswork, intuition, or without any help or instructions

I truly believe this is the number one challenge for most Sales teams—not knowing where or how to spend their time when it comes to prospecting, customer upsell/cross-sell opportunities or working active net-new opportunities.

Most sales development reps (SDRs) and account executives (AEs) have a list of leads or, in most cases, a list of accounts they are assigned.

But, the most common problems we hear from these teams are:
  • Where do I start?
  • How do I manage and prioritize my time?
  • Which accounts get the most attention today, and why?
  • What does all this technology do for me?

Add on trying to book meetings and sell deals during a global pandemic and we can all agree it is really tough to be a salesperson right now.

Everything that follows in this blog is a focus on two key areas. The first part answers the above questions of prioritization, and it ends with some general advice that helped me get promoted from SDR to AE in less than a year.

Let’s talk about account prioritization.

This is where you make your money: Focus on the right accounts, with the right message, and at the right time.

Here are my personal favorite ways to segment my target account list:
  • Accounts showing high intent ( They’re researching across the web for keywords related to our products and have five or more visits to our website.)
  • Accounts with offsite intent related to Demandbase competitors with no on-site visits
  • Companies where senior leadership (like department VPs and chief officers)have engaged in our content in the last 30 days
  • Companies trending for intent (i.e., there’s a spike in off-site keyword research in the last week), but they have yet to go to our website
  • Closed or lost opportunities in the last year with a recent spike in activity on our website

Then, you formulate your messaging based on the account’s specific engagement, both on the account and contact/lead level. By understanding what your accounts are researching and what content they are consuming is how you’ll want to base your outreach to that specific account.

How to Achieve Success as an SDR

Finally, I wanted to end with some general advice on how to succeed as an SDR, because that role is near and dear to my heart. Here are three examples (of many) that you can implement whether you are a brand new SDR or an SDR vet looking to make your move to account executive.

1. Lean into your company’s sales enablement program.

By really leaning into our sales enablement team and training program, I was able to ramp up really quickly. I made sure to come prepared to my one-on-ones with my enablement manager, and I asked questions to get the help I needed.

2. Build relationships with your AE.

When you have a good relationship with your AE, the sky’s the limit. Not only do you crush your number, but you get your AE on your good side—they’ll be your strongest advocate, telling their manager about you and helping you build your brand internally.

3. Be super organized and dial in your territory plan.

Always have your territory and target account plan dialed in. This comes in handy for prioritizing your week, maintaining good hygiene for contacts, selecting contacts for direct mail and marketing events, and so on.

This also comes in handy when you go into one-on-ones with your manager and AE.

4. Set up your weeks on Sunday.

I found that mapping out my week on Sunday night helps me block out the noise and understand where I need to focus for the upcoming week.

Sales is a job where you need to really just take it one day at a time. Do the little things right, ask questions, don’t cut corners, and always strive to be one percent better every day.

Cheers!

Account Director, Growth Mid-Market, Demandbase

I’m a B2B SaaS Sales professional driven by a persistent, empathetic, and can-do attitude. Starting at Demandbase as an SDR, I quickly moved into a new-business AE role, and then moved into a more customer-focused role as a Growth Account Director. In my current role as a "GAD", I help B2B Marketing and Sales teams at strategic high-growth companies execute full-funnel account-based strategies at scale. I’m motivated to help customers become wildly successful. Nothing makes me happier than a happy customer!