Employer: Bolstra

Job Title: Success Development Representative (SDR)

Degree Path: Bachelor’s Degree in Communication, Purdue University; SPIN Selling, Sandler Sales Training

Hometown: Indianapolis, IN

Current City: Carmel, IN

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

I was led to the Indy tech industry through several conversations I had with a number of trusted friends and acquaintances. Out of six different conversations I had, the TechPoint organization came up and was recommended to me during four of them as an excellent resource. One of my close friends who lives and works in tech in the San Francisco Bay Area shared with me that poaching is more and more common among tech companies in Silicon Valley. She said several of the companies were making moves to the Midwest because of advantages like lower salary costs, higher standards of living for employees, lower taxes, and the ability to escape some of the competition (poaching) that goes on out west. In the years since that conversation, I watched several companies make moves to Indy including Salesforce, ReturnPath, Appirio, Rook Security, Genesys, Emarsys, Determine and Geofeedia, to name a handful.

Another attraction for these companies is the state’s wealth of world-class science and engineering schools within close proximity to Indy, including Purdue, IU, IUPUI, Butler, Rose-Hulman, Notre Dame, and DePauw. I wanted to be a part of something that I saw growing at a fast rate here in Indy. Frankly, I felt like it was about to explode and I wanted to be a part of that excitement.

My first job in tech has been with Bolstra, a Customer Success management platform for growth-minded SaaS companies. My role began as a Business Development Representative and because of the good majority of folks we speak to in the upper levels of Customer Success, the position has evolved into a Success Development Representative position.

What has been your career path so far?

My career path in tech began with the TechPoint Sales Bootcamp training program. I was absolutely elated to be able to be part of this six-week program. It helped to open so many doors in tech for me. Through the Bootcamp, I was able to spend concentrated time inside of three different employment cultures, allowing me to experience a sense of camaraderie in each that would allow me to decide what would be the best fit for me as far as size, pace and stage of life of the organization. Even if one of these three organizations wasn’t the one for me, experiencing each one helped me to decide what I really liked and what I didn’t like as much about their varying nuances.

I’ve spent the last 8 months as a Success Development Representative (SDR) with Bolstra.

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 consists of a personal goal of making more than 100 prospecting phone calls (some cold, some follow up) and possibly sending as many emails. Some days are lighter than others, but for the most part, those are the numbers I’m shooting to surpass daily. The calls and emails I make and send follow a specific cadence or pattern that is scheduled in Salesforce, the CRM tool I have access to.

On top of being able to use Salesforce, we also have Salesvue, which allows us to make calls and send emails much more quickly and efficiently than we would be able to otherwise. The voicemails I leave are somewhat scripted, and when I’m able to reach someone live on the phone, my goal is to set an appointment for a demonstration with a VP or with our CEO/Founder.

I’m responsible for keeping a spreadsheet up to date with my scheduled demonstrations on a quarterly basis.

Some days involve a meeting: for instance, we have a half hour stand-up company meeting every Monday morning and one-hour SDR meeting with our CEO/Founder every Tuesday.

Help us picture your work environment.

My work environment is very flexible at Bolstra. We work out of an office which shares a lobby with a co-working space in Carmel. We are required to be in the office during office hours, Monday through Friday; however, the team has flexibility for issues when “life happens.” If I need to be at home for whatever reason, I can work remotely as long as I communicate, can be reached on channel (via email, Slack or cell phone), use my calendar and get the job done. Transparency builds trust and is always important in any role. Working from home is not something I do a lot, but it’s wonderful to know I can do so whenever needed.

I have not traveled to date with Bolstra. I am able to interact a lot with others, both inside and outside of my organization; my role and company is very collaborative.

What do you love about the work you do?

What I love about the work I do is that I’m confident the product we provide is superior to our competitors’. I can truly relate to the folks to whom I’m reaching out. When I connect with them, I can say that I come from a sales background–I was juggling 120+ customer accounts previously and never knew which accounts were the weak links or were the accounts at risk of being picked off by a competitor.

With a solution like Bolstra, the user has the advantage of its predictive indicators. Bolstra allows the Customer Success Manager to monitor accounts in such a way that he/she will know BEFORE a fire breaks out in an account based on health scores, churn and growth indicators–all of which are leading indicators vs. the lagging indicators provided by competitive products. I love the passion and infectious positivity that our CEO/Founder exudes for our organization. It helps to energize all of us, but especially me as I begin making calls at the beginning of the day.

What I love about the work I do is that I know what I’m doing can make a difference in the bottom line of any company that has customers. I enjoy the sense that I am able to help companies succeed and help them to exceed their customers’ expectations.

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

In order to succeed in and enjoy an SDR or BDR role, you need to have a lot of: drive, patience, determination, energy, a strong work ethic, thick skin, be unafraid of rejection, be able to think well on your feet, strong sense of independence, take criticism well, be willing to try new things and new approaches, and not take things personally.

It’s important for someone in this role to be willing to embrace challenge and change and to rise to the occasion when faced with competition.

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

It’s a huge advantage to have experience or proficiency in Salesforce, although I know many other SDRs/BDRs who work at other companies who use different CRMs. I would say as long as you are willing to learn from those around you, you can pick up almost anything from others or from YouTube/the internet.

Also a huge tool to have going into this job is some experience or knowledge in Sandler Sales Techniques. I’d had past experience with SPIN Selling techniques and some exposure to Sandler in prior roles. However, I feel the TechPoint Sales Bootcamp program gave me quite a bit of additional experience with Sandler. This exposure reinforced many of the prospecting and objection handling skills that would be important to success going forward.

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?

After being in an SDR role for some time, I wish I’d known:

  • To use email tracking to determine the best times to call.
  • About video emails and how much prospects enjoy receiving them.

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

As I started my role as an SDR, the biggest challenge has been coming up with creative ways to mix up our outreach and best engage potential prospects. I’ve found it can be difficult to reach most of the titles with whom I’m tasked to connect directly. If I’m reaching out to Global VP, EVP, VP, Director of Customer Success, I find I’m very often leaving a voicemail or sending an email that could go unanswered.

It’s been very helpful to attend group tech events sponsored by Indy tech companies. The events bring together tech leaders and experts to share their experience and techniques in handling various challenges faced in the tech sales and marketing industry.

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

General business skills or employability skills which are particularly important in this role are: time management skills, communication, willingness to be transparent, strong problem solving skills, teamwork, and an ability to embrace frequent change.

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

The resources, people, books, websites, etc. I would recommend to those who want to learn more or advance their skills in this occupation include participating in groups such as AA-ISP (American Association of Inside Sales People – Hoosier Sales Pros).

As mentioned before, it’s been very helpful to attend group tech events sponsored by Indy tech companies. The events bring together tech leaders and experts to share their experience and techniques in handling various challenges faced in the tech sales and marketing industry. It’s also an excellent resource for networking for additional talent for your current company or for future opportunities.

A few of the books I would recommend are:

  • SPIN Selling
  • The Unapologetic Saleswoman
  • From the Board Room to the Living Room
  • Why People Buy
  • Asking Questions

I would recommend networking and forging a relationship with Matt Nettleton at Sandler Training DTB (www.dtb.sandler.com). Matt is a wealth of information and very willing to assist with issues you run into or build a working relationship with your company.

I would also recommend following Morgan J Ingram on LinkedIn – Host of #TheSDRChronicles | Motivating and Helping Sales Teams Evolve into Rockstars | LinkedIn Top Sales Voices.

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

I would encourage others considering this occupation or wanting to stand out amongst others to do as much networking through those they know in the tech industry and/or through LinkedIn. Many doors can be opened if you meet with or speak with someone who recognizes your passion and/or skills and is willing to recommend you to a company executive/leader.

In addition, when applying to positions and including cover letters, it’s remarkable, in my mind, to be able to say you’ve met with someone (named) or several people who recommended you reach out or apply for a role with a given company, etc. The more people you can have conversations with, the more you will learn and the better prepared you will be and will appear in the eyes of a potential employer. Of course, it’s important to take the opportunity to communicate the networking efforts you’ve made as well.