Learn, Succeed, Lead: How to Go From SDR to Sales Leader



The goal for all first-time salespeople is to take the initial steps from the sales development world toward becoming a closer. For most sales professionals, developing yourself into a closer is a journey, but for a select group, that have the natural ability to close, what comes next? I’ve thought about the mindset and milestones I’ve encountered during my short tenure as salesperson, and discovered that it’s about looking for repeatable tools and skills to deploy across my team. I believe that if you’re mindful of these four factors you’ll be able to accelerate your career, your personal growth and move ahead in any situation:

Act The Part:

Do your job, but also do the job you want — before you have it. Mold yourself into the person that currently does that job. In order to do this, find a mentor that is currently in that role, they will help and coach you. You need people to sing your praises internally; a mentor is more than a person that can help you identify and fill-in your gaps, they will make you successful faster. Because of your personal relationship with them, they’re much more likely to give you a positive recommendation. Additionally, part of ‘acting the part’ is to become one of them – participate in after work bonding, inside jokes, etc. You need to be the whole package.

Campaign Effectively:

You know what you want to accomplish, but who else needs to be on board? Work the room — from the people on the floor all the way to the top of your sales organization. Everyone needs to be on board with the idea, and you have to be the clear choice for your next gig. Make it your goal to earn the respect of your current team members, and become the go-to person for information and advice. Once you have earned your team’s respect and proven your credibility, take that and run with it. Choose one or two things you’ve done well that you think can be replicated and present them to the next level up to achieve buy-in – this is a great way to separate yourself from the pack.

Seize Opportunities:

There are two things that need to line up in order for you to seize an opportunity. The first is availability, and the second is timing. These two things can be extremely tricky to align in perfect harmony but there are a couple things you can do to influence the alignment. You need to make it known that you want a shot at the next level before an opportunity is made available. If you’ve laid the groundwork and accomplished the other things I’ve described like campaigning, acting the part and performing, you’ll be first in line when the time comes. I’ve seen many people passed over as potential candidates because they simply don’t anticipate the availability of the next role, and when they finally ask for the opportunity, it’s too late. Don’t let someone else beat you to the punch.  One approach is to take the hiring manager to lunch, and communicate that you are interested in moving up and share examples of how you are different from your peers.

Perform At Your Peak:

I think that it might go without saying, but in order to stand out from the rest, you need to be an A player.  No one will take you seriously until you prove yourself that you can be a top performer.  Do what is expected of you, and then do more. You’ll need to take on more responsibility, and be more creative and proactive than others around you. Document examples of your performance and when your number is called, share your unique portfolio that demonstrates you’ve been adding value and are prepared for the next big thing.

Anyone looking to move up in their sales organization should be thinking about developing these big-ticket items. I’m a big believer that you should always be put in a position that maximizes your potential. If you feel like you’re reaching a plateau in your career, create new short-term goals to push through– and then find what you want to work towards in the long term (which will probably include a new set of skills). In the end, follow the road less traveled and be a leader. It will be bumpy and less defined but it will lead to faster personal and professional success.

What are your thoughts about how to move up in an organization? How can you start taking advantage of opportunities in your current role? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.