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How to Become a Better SDR: SDR Training and Tips


June 21st, 2023

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Learning how to become a better SDR is crucial for many budding sales professionals. While the position of “Sales Development Representative” is often seen as an entry-level role, these employees are essential to the overall success of any sales team. 

Successful SDRs might not be responsible for closing deals, but they are the experts who bring qualified leads and opportunities into the sales pipeline. SDRs have a unique opportunity to pave the way for revenue growth and improve the results of any account executive. 

The question is, how do you make sure you’re excelling in your position as a sales development rep? Here are some of the most valuable steps you can invest in as you launch, or develop your career.

What Does a Sales Development Representative Do?

Learning how to become a better SDR starts with understanding your position, and the impact it has on the business you serve. Sales development reps are a crucial component in the lead qualification process. They’re measured on their ability to define which customers are a good fit for a business, and nurture those prospects into qualified leads. 

SDRs are valuable cogs in the sales machine. These sales professionals gather insights from the marketing team in a business to pinpoint potential leads, and sales opportunities. They then work at building rapport, discovering customer pain points, and nurturing leads until they’re ready to buy. 

While the average work day of an SDR can vary, depending on a number of factors, SDRs often deal with the initial part of the sales process. They ensure leads are ready to be passed on to sales representatives, so other team members spend less time on qualification. 

While the role of an SDR might seem simple enough, professionals in this space need to utilize a number of different skills to identify their ideal customer, and drive results. 

How to Become a Better SDR: Crucial Steps for Success

Without successful SDRs, companies wouldn’t be able to establish an effective sales process. Excellent revenue and profits depend on a company’s ability to position a product or service in the right way to their ideal customer. As experts in prospecting and lead qualification, SDRs are responsible for filling a sales pipeline with the right opportunities. 

This is why so many sales companies invest significantly in courses for SDR employees, and SDR training techniques. If you want to invest in your own skills as an SDR, here are some of the areas you should be focusing on:

  1. Develop Crucial “Hard” Skills

SDRs need to be able to master a variety of both soft and hard skills to excel in their role. Hard skills are the measurable, job-specific abilities that help sales professionals to complete tasks. Often, these skills are taught during the initial onboarding stage for a sales development rep. However, you may need to invest in your own individual learning as your role evolves. 

Some of the relevant hard skills SDR training courses should cover include:

  • Software experience: SDRs need to be able to use a variety of tools to prospect, qualify, and nurture leads in the digital world. You’ll need to be familiar with social media and email outreach, video recordings, conferencing tools, outbound contact center solutions, and even CRM systems for tracking customer relationships. 
  • Research: While research is a common part of many parts of the sales process, it’s a particularly consistent part of a SDR’s work day. You’ll need to be able to uncover accurate information about a prospect, learn about pain point details, and create reports that can help guide other sales teams. 
  • Prospecting and outreach: 40% of salespeople say prospecting is the most difficult part of sales. As an SDR, you’ll need to learn how to connect with the right prospects, and leverage customized outreach strategies to unlock sales opportunities. You should know not just how to cold call customers, but also how to personalize each interaction with customers. 
  1. Nurture Your Soft Skills

While there are numerous hard skills involved in an SDR role, most of a sales rep’s success will come from their soft skills. Sales is all about communicating, connecting with, and engaging customers on an emotional level. This means you need to have exceptional emotional intelligence, empathy, and even a little curiosity to thrive. Some key soft skills you can develop include:

  • Communication: Communication skills are essential to any SDR. You need to be able to interact with customers on any channel of their choice, from phone call, to video conferencing conversations. You also need to know how to use the right tone of voice and language when connecting with customers, and how to leverage active listening to build rapport.
  • Resilience: SDRs can have a difficult job. You’ll likely face a lot of rejection throughout your career. The key to success is nurturing a growth mindset, which allows you to learn from your failures, rather than dwell on them. Work on developing your mental grit.
  • Self-awareness: As an SDR, you’ll need to be aware of your strengths and weaknesses so you can connect with your prospects, and drive results. A good degree of self-awareness often relies on asking for feedback from managers and colleagues, and tracking your own results and progress over time. 

You’ll also need to master the art of relationship building, using empathy, emotional intelligence, and curiosity to build rapport. Practice overcoming objections and think about how you can present yourself as a valuable resource to your ideal customer, rather than just another salesperson.

  1. Learn How to Manage Your Time

Time is everything in the sales process. You need to know when to follow up with customers at the right time to boost their chances of converting, without being pushy. You also need to know how to use your own time effectively to increase your results. 

A good portion of your time will be spent prospecting or searching for new opportunities and qualified leads. However, you can streamline your workflow by leveraging the right tools and resources, such as software that allows you to automate certain aspects of outreach and research. 

It’s also worth taking a structured approach to planning your work day. Uses time management matrixes and project management tools to define which tasks you need to do each day to stay on track.

Set daily activity goals for yourself, and implement a strong, repeatable process you can use every day. Focusing on building exceptional organization and time management skills will help you to reach your quotas and targets on a consistent basis. 

  1. Develop Expertise about Your Products and Customers

Becoming an expert in your product, services, company, and the customers you serve is one of the best ways to learn how to become a better SDR. As a sales development rep, it’s your responsibility to present your products or solutions to customers in a way that drives sales opportunities. 

This means you need to understand exactly what your product or service can do, and what it’s core benefits or selling points are. Developing a passion for your product, and a deep knowledge of how it works will help you to engage your ideal customer. 

Crucially, it’s not just enough to know what the benefits of your solution are – you also need to know exactly how those benefits correspond with each pain point your customer has. 63% of B2C and 76% of B2B buyers say they want businesses to understand their unique needs. 

Taking the time to learn about your customers, and their specific requirements, pull insights from customer case studies, and paying attention to client feedback will help you to boost your chances of conversions. Plus, the more you know about your audience, the easier it will be to find the right prospects for your sales team. 

  1. Learn from your Peers

While you may already know the basics of how to prospect for leads, and unlock sales opportunities, there’s always room for growth. Fortunately, the people you work with, and the wider sales community, are excellent resources for professional development. 

Start internally scheduling meetings with your sales managers, account executives, and other professionals on your team. Ask questions about the sales process, and consider seeking out a mentor or coach who can offer consistent guidance and feedback on your performance. 

You could even consider shadowing your coworkers, listening to some of their calls with potential leads, and reading the emails they send. 

Outside of your workplace, look for opportunities to learn from other experts. Follow blogs written by thought leaders in the sales industry. Read reports about customer psychology, and watch videos or listen to podcasts to expand your knowledge. You can even get involved in gamified training programs online, to help build your skills in an informal setting. 

  1. Explore Online Courses

While many sales teams will provide access to online courses for SDR training and other resources, you can also take the initiative and consider searching for opportunities to learn yourself. The digital world is packed with free and paid courses and programs, ideal for sales representatives. 

Make a list of your strengths and weaknesses as a sales professional, and look for courses on channels like Udemy, Coursera, and Skillshare that may be beneficial to your growth. There are free training courses on everything from cold call techniques, to building rapport in the sales process. 

You can also ask your peers and colleagues for any advice they might have on the right courses to take. Your sales managers should be able to offer insights into which skills you should be focusing on developing, based on your performance. 

  1. Experiment with Different Types of SDR Training

Courses are just one of the ways to learn how to become a better SDR in today’s world. There are also countless other fantastic resources out there you can consider. Speak to your manager and business leaders about any training opportunities you might be able to access. 

Some companies will run competitions in-house which allow you to access training opportunities in a gamified setting. Others will create buddy or mentorship systems where you can learn from other experienced reps. You might even be able to participate in role-playing exercises, where you can experiment with prospecting and nurturing techniques. 

To define where you’ll benefit most from SDR training initiatives, pay attention to your own sales results. Monitor your metrics in terms of conversions and engagements. Speak to your manager about your strengths and weaknesses, and build your own training strategy based on your career path. 

Invest in Becoming a Better SDR

Learning how to become a better SDR takes time, commitment, and dedication. However, if you’re willing to experiment with different training strategies, learn from your mistakes, and invest in your skills, you can become an extremely valuable sales professional. 

Learn how to become a better SDR today, with expert training from some of the biggest sales experts in the world. Join the Hard Skill Exchange to find out more! 

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