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What is a Sales Development Representative? with Morgan J Ingram, Ep #125 

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If you’re in the world of procurement, a Sales Development Representative (SDR) is an often misunderstood and foreign role. What is an SDR (Or BDR or AE)? What do they do? How does their role impact or affect procurement? My friend, Morgan J Ingram, joins me in this episode of Negotiations Ninja to help us understand the role of an SDR—and why they’re not the enemy.

Morgan is currently the Director of Sales Execution and Evolution at John Barrows. His initial dream was to be in sports management—but after graduating college, he realized he’d have to continue his education and get a law degree. On top of that, the odds of him making it were between 1-3%. He pivoted, reached out to a local startup, and ended up being hired as a SDR.

Listen to this episode as he shares about his struggle as an SDR and how he broke through and found success. He shares insight into the sales side of the spectrum, his 11-touch campaign strategy, and how to best understand the interplay between sales and procurement.

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:35] Morgan J Ingram’s background in sales
  • [6:32] Two strategies to start a cold-call strong
  • [12:00] Overcome anxiety associated with cold-calling
  • [16:20] Morgan’s 11-touch campaign strategy
  • [20:55] What procurement people should know about SDR’s
  • [23:04] An SDRs impression of procurement
  • [27:27] Two pieces of advice about sales and negotiation
  • [30:03] How to connect with Morgan

What the hell is a sales development rep?

According to Morgan, an SDR’s focus is to cold-call, email, and social-sell to schedule pipeline meetings for the closers (or “account executives”). Your whole job as an SDR is to prospect and build out the sales pipeline. Morgan admits he struggled with the role in the beginning. But after reflection and speaking with mentors, he realized he wasn’t giving 100%. He needed to be more organized and focused on time-management.

He resolved to hone in his cold-calling and email skills. As he applied himself, he saw more success. Eventually, he was promoted to a management position where he was in charge of 13 reps. He started his YouTube Channel, “The SDR Chronicles,” and began to create more content to help struggling SDR’s begin to excel in their roles.

John Barrows discovered his channel on YouTube and reached out. Now, they work together to train SDRs, BDRs, and AEs to reach their full potential in their roles.

How to start a cold-call off strong

Morgan shares two strategies he utilizes to start a good conversation with prospects, and it all depends on what type of segmentation account you’re calling.

He refers to the first strategy as the pattern interrupt. This is the strategy you use when doing a more transactional approach. Most people, when taught how to make a phone call, start by saying “Hi, my name is (fill-in-the-blank) with such and such, how are you today?”. Morgan points out that this approach is fine, but it often starts the conversation with your prospect on the defensive.

Morgan prefers a different approach:

“Hi so-and-so, thank you for taking my call, do you have a few minutes to chat?”

This approach is a break from the traditional pattern and catches the recipient off guard. They are intrigued and curious and usually follow-up with “Who is this?” which opens the door for your sales pitch. You are forcing them to make a decision—and they usually follow their curiosity.

Morgan points out that you win or lose the cold-call in 5-7 seconds. Listen to the entire episode as he shares his second research-based approach when contacting enterprises.

Handling rejection as an SDR

If you’re hired to be an SDR, it is one of the only roles where you’re expected to get rejected repeatedly. Many new SDRs struggle with anxiety related to cold-calling. To alleviate their anxiety, Morgan points them to the worst-case scenario: the prospect will hang up on you. They won’t hunt you down and find where you live and work. In all likelihood, they won’t remember you the next time you call. The worst-case scenario really isn’t that bad.

Morgan has always worked to make the process fun and light-hearted. A company he worked for would give out a “bulldoze” award to the person that got hung-up on the loudest. They found that keeping the process light-hearted helped engagement and broke up the monotony. He noted that you don’t have to be afraid to be creative.

The hardest part of sales is prospecting, and according to Morgan, “If you can master prospecting, you can do anything you want in your life moving forward”. Mastering the skill can help you get a new job or even through the process of starting a business. Everything you learn in the role will help you move forward in your career.

Morgan’s out-of-the-box advice

Morgan iterates that to advance in your career you must take time to do things outside of what you’re asked to do. One way he embraces that mantra is by engaging in a morning routine. He sets aside time to reflect on what’s going on and get in the right headspace for the day ahead. Entering the day in the right state of mind helps you be composed and confident—and prospects will take notice. You begin to build consistency, and as you become more consistent you improve the probability of your success.

Morgan also recommends reading books or listening to podcasts to better understand human psychology—and become a better negotiator. Jim Rohn says it best: “Learn to work harder on yourself than you do on your job”. If you’re working on bettering yourself and striving towards excellence, it overflows into every part of your life.

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Morgan J Ingram

Connect With Mark

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