Regardless of the size or sector of your business, you can’t expect all of your customers to come enthusiastically knocking on your door. Yes, strategies like inbound marketing can make it slightly easier to make a sale, as leads are automatically entering your pipeline. But that said, your organization must also do its part to identify and convert leads into customers—sometimes aggressively.

Regardless of whether your leads arrive through inbound or outbound marketing, there is one group of skills that will affect your success rate. Specifically, you and your team must have great Sales Development skills. By constantly practicing and refining your sales development skills, you can dramatically increase the odds of making that sale.

But what skills should you focus on? In other words, what type of Sales Development skills will cause a lead to become a current (and repeat) customer?

We’re here to help. Below are some of the most critical Sales Development skills that, if mastered, can substantially increase your conversion rate. Whether you independently study these skills or perfect them in an organized course or training, these skills can increase your organization’s bottom line.

Three Critical Sales Development Skills

First, let’s start with one of the most important skills not just in sales, but life generally. We’re talking about empathy. Simply put, you have to care about the people you’re calling. You have to step into their shoes, identify their problems, and present solutions to them.

Many SDRs are inwardly focused. They are most focused on their product, their quota, setting up demos and earning a commission, rather than actually serving their target market.

The best SDRs are empathetic and emotionally intelligent. They can understand if a prospect is feeling excited, nervous, or anxious about a company’s product or service. They recognize that there should not only pay attention to the words coming out of their prospects’ mouths but the subtle clues that they are revealing through body language and tone of voice.

Ultimately, prospects will appreciate this empathetic attitude. Not only will they feel more comfortable around the SDR, but the SDR will actually be solving their problems—regardless of whether it involves a sale or not. Even if a sale isn’t made, the SDR is building goodwill with the lead, who may return—either by herself, her family, or her friends.

Another important sales development skill is sector immersion. By sector immersion, we mean that the best SDRs have an excellent understanding of both their product and their market. They know the ins and outs not only of their product but their sector as a whole.

SDRs who embrace total immersion can see trends around the corner. They go to trade shows, read industry blogs, and go out of their way to understand where the market is heading. These SDRs don’t go to these conferences simply to catch up with old friends and find prospective clients. Instead, they take a proactive approach to these opportunities. They attend panels, ask questions, and get a better sense of new innovations in their sector. They know the vocabulary. With this knowledge in mind, the best-performing SDRs can better understand how to solve their prospect’s problems.

From sector immersion, organization is an extremely important Sales Development skill. The best-performing SDRs tend to be more organized than their colleagues. These SDRs know where each and every lead is located in their pipeline, they have a good sense of time management. They understand when to follow up and how to do so. For instance, they recognize that a lead further down their pipeline will require more frequent, personalized outreach than a lead at the top of the funnel.

These SDRs also get the little details right. By organization, they know the names of their leads and their family members. They tap into their prior interactions with a lead to decide whether to be more aggressive or passive when pursuing a sale. To put it simply, these SDRs are on top of things. Whether they are naturally organized or have built up their organization skills, they tap into this attribute when pursuing all leads.

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These Sales Development skills are critical for any SDR. You may or may not have some (or all) of these skills. Regardless of your personal circumstances, we encourage you to continue working on these skills. By doing so, you can increase the chances of becoming the best-performing SDR at your company.

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