Prior to his career as a Sales Development Representative, Fabian participated in TechPoint’s January 2018 Sales Bootcamp program. He spent six weeks inside several Indianapolis tech companies to gain hands on SDR experience. Click here to learn more about the Sales Bootcamp program and apply for the January 2019 cohort.  The deadline to apply is Sunday, January 6.

Employer: PERQ

Job Title: Sales Development Representative (SDR)

Degree Path: Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology, IUPUI

Hometown: Bellwood, IL

Current City: Zionsville, IN

What led you to your getting into tech and this occupation? What was your first job in tech?

TechPoint Sales Bootcamp led me into tech and my current occupation. I was in my previous sales position for approximately 7 years and decided that I wanted to change my career. I did some research and talked to some friends in the industry. All roads pointed me to TechPoint. Being an SDR at PERQ was my first job in tech.

What has been your career path so far?

My career path started with a lot of random jobs out of college, really trying to figure out who I thought I was and what I thought I wanted to be. I travelled around the Midwest for about 3 years after graduation playing music, trying to live out a passion, but ultimately my band broke up and I had to face the real world. My girlfriend at the time (now my wife) graduated from Purdue around that time and found a job in Indy. I followed her here and found a job at Mercedes-Benz. I stayed at that company taking on various roles over my 7-year career including sales, finance, and management.

When you think of a day in your life, what are the main work activities you do or responsibilities you have?

A day in my life involves a lot of phone calls. It’s a healthy mix of cold prospecting (hunting and gathering) and some MQL/inbound (marketing qualified leads and warmer prospecting). General prospecting requires a lot detective skill work and genuine curiosity. You are calling on accounts, sometimes emailing, trying to figure out who the right person that you need to talk to is. Inbound leads are a bit easier, as I typically have a reason for calling them (i.e. they responded to a marketing email or they visited our website). This is all done through Salesforce. Salesforce is great because it does a lot of the work for you, so long as you use it the way it is intended. It tells you who you need to call or email and when.

The purpose of my role, my only responsibility, is to schedule appointments (demos) so that an account executive can pitch our solution/product and make a sale.

Help us picture your work environment.

Our office environment is pretty awesome. Lots of open work space, all the stereotypical amenities of a tech company: ping pong, basketball, Nerf guns, beer, snacks, TVs, relaxed dress code, flexible schedule, and lots of collaboration/talking with coworkers about strategy and best practices. I have a standing desk at my cube. All of my work is done on my laptop and headset for making calls. We have a daily stand up meeting every afternoon to go over our goals for the next day, and we have a weekly SDR team meeting and weekly one-on-one’s with my direct manger.

What do you love about the work you do?

I love the flexibility and the trust. It is very much a work-hard, play-hard environment. Some people can get lost with that type of freedom, but I think I thrive in it. I have a lot of anxiety about my work, so I tend to go above what is asked of me to make sure that I can enjoy the flexibility. Nobody is watching the clock when I get to the office or when I leave the office or how long I go to lunch or when I work out. They trust their employees enough to manage their time efficiently and get the work done that needs to get done.

The people are amazing; I love my coworkers. The culture is great: everyone there genuinely enjoys being there and wants the company to succeed and continue to grow.

My bosses also make me feel empowered to make changes when I think things can be done differently for specific aspects of my role.

Which personality traits, interests, and abilities are important or common for a person to succeed in and enjoy this occupation?

Must possess the following:

1. Comfortable with change.
2. Accept failure, almost on a daily basis.
3. Must be ok with not talking to anyone on the phone for an entire day…maybe even two days.
4. Persistent but not annoying.
5. Know when things aren’t working and must be changed.
6. Must be able to memorize a script.

Which tools/technologies or technical skills are particularly important for a person to be proficient in for sales jobs?

The tools that I use on a daily basis consist of Microsoft Outlook, Salesforce, Ring Central (Go-to-Meeting, Zoom, Skype). I wouldn’t say that proficiency in any of these was necessary, as my skill using these tools increased with experience in the role.

Now that you’ve been in an SDR role for some time, what do you know now that you wish you knew before you started?

I wish I knew more about how long it actually takes to have a conversation with someone and how important those conversations are. Sometimes, you only have two or three conversations a day from 50-60 calls made. You want to be as prepared as possible to give the best pitch ever when you actually get someone to answer the phone. I think I placed too much value on activity rather than results; that was a mistake.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as you started your role as an SDR?

My biggest challenge has been forgetting what I thought I knew about sales and adapting to sales at a technology company.

Also, cold calling and sticking to a script. I tried to freestyle too many conversations because I was nervous and thought that the script was “too wordy” or “too salesy”. That was wrong. It took me forever to understand that people doing my job much longer than I have wrote the script and that it worked. Practice made perfect.

Which soft skills (aka general business skills or employability skills) are particularly important for a person to be proficient in for sales jobs?

Be coachable – Hopefully you have a great manager that takes time to listen to your phone calls and analyzes what you say on the phone and how you say it. Take their feedback objectively and be coachable enough to fix the things that you can’t see.

Be curious – Ask lots of questions both at your new job and to your prospects. Ask why you are doing things, why and what things mean and how things work.

Listen – Know when to shut up and listen to what people are saying. Take it in, interpret it, and respond accordingly. Or don’t respond at all–sometimes saying nothing says a whole lot.

Time management – Do your work, then do whatever else you want but always get your work done.

Which resources, people, books, websites, etc. would you recommend to those who want to learn more or advance their skills in this occupation?

I would say to find some podcasts about sales/SDR/BDR and listen to the advice that long time professionals in the field have to say. I love podcasts because they are conversational and the education portion of them sneaks up on you and sinks in.

Definitely leverage any time with Matt Nettleton at Sandler. He is a great resource and consummate professional in sales. His techniques might feel awkward and too weird to work, but there is some great stuff with what he teaches that I use on a daily basis.

What encouragement or advice would you offer to others considering this occupation or wanting to stand out amongst others?

Be yourself through Bootcamp, don’t be nervous, let your personality come through.

Make connections with people at the companies you’re at.

Ask a lot of questions about the positions that they are hiring for.

You are constantly being interviewed. Be aware of what you are doing and how you are doing it.

First in, last out.

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