It’s the 19th episode of Meaningful Conversations with Revenue Leaders – No fluff. Meaningful conversations only.

Neil Bhuiyan is a man of many talents, initiatives, and a clear passion for SDRs and elevating the sales development profession.

He truly walks the talk - not only is he the Founder of, he is also the host of The SDR DiscoCall Podcast, and Sales Development Manager for EMEA at Happeo.

We’re excited to have Neil over for an interview to discuss the following:

  • the ins and outs of the sales development space,
  • traits and strategies that make you successful,
  • the crucial role of productive 1x1s with your managers!

This interview is truly a testament to Neil’s statement that he’s one of, if not THE biggest SDR fans that you will meet.

  • 1:03 What are you passionate about?
  • 9:28 What are the skills that you learned as an SDR and are applying now when you’re in a different role?
  • 13:48 What are the traits of the SDRs that are successful and “make it”?
  • 20:42 How can SDRs improve the most?
  • 24:30 What does the perfect 1x1 look like?
  • 33:08 What are you currently excited about in the revenue space?

Highlight 1: What inspired you to pursue a career in sales development?

You often hear that people accidentally fall into sales - that was not the case for me. I very intentionally went into sales.

It all started with influencing people to buy an iPhone when it first came out. People thought I worked for Apple and it clicked for me that I can convince people to buy something that will benefit them and that I might want to follow this path for a while.

The world of tech sales, however, was completely alien to me. It was a scary journey, navigating on my own how to achieve the targets, what is it going to take, am I still going to have my job…

But once that passed and I became an SDR manager, I noticed that a lot of people were talking down to SDRs. I felt like that needed to change.

Without SDRs you have no pipeline, your company has no lifeline. They’re the first people guiding these potential new customers into a business and service, so they have a very important job. They’re VIPs in my opinion.

I’ve taken that mindset, and I hope that I’ve been able to instill it with the people that I’ve met and have worked with over the last few years.

My first SDR manager, Kat Vasilakos at Zuora once said “Neil, I’ve seen so many great SDRs come onboard into tech companies in Silicon Valley, and they’re now VPs of Sales, Marketing, and even CEOs of their own companies. And I’m just very happy to have played a part in their career and life and helping them have a steppingstone into tech sales. I want to give that same feeling.

I’m one of biggest SDR fans that you’re probably going to meet. I love SDRs and I love sales development.

Highlight 2: What are some of the skills that you have learned as an SDR that you’re applying now when you’re a Founder?

Every skill that I learned as an SDR is what’s helping me be successful as a founder in my own business.

When I onboard new hires, I give them this expectation that in their first 12 months, they are doing four roles.

1️⃣ You are a marketer.

You’re sharing content, case studies, white papers, and you’re educating your potential future customers. You’re an extension of your CMO in that department.

2️⃣ You are a salesperson.

You’re prospecting, you’re reaching out to multiple stakeholders, you’re setting up business meetings, you’re moving them along in a sales process and running really good meetings.

3️⃣ You become a product expert.

As an SDR, you’re constantly asked questions of how your tool integrates, how it works with a certain API, how it fits within the customer’s ecosystem. You have to become knowledgeable about the product to a certain extent.

4️⃣ You’re an acting customer success manager.

You may be speaking to a prospect today but they’re not ready to buy or engage, so you have to be able to nurture them over time and reactivate them and bring them back into the discussion at the right time.

When I launched Happy Selling a few years ago, I had to take all four attributes into consideration. Every skill that I’ve learned as an SDR is benefiting me today.

Highlight 3: Three tips SDRs should think about when prospecting

1️⃣ A certain level of empathy is key for SDRs.

Imagine how your prospect will receive the information and how they’re going to view it.

  • Make things really easy and clear to understand
  • Remove the jargon
  • Make a really good impression in the first 30 seconds

2️⃣ It’s fine to have a script.

It’s the same as with music - when you play an instrument, you have to practice it a couple of times. The more you practice, the less you have to look at the script, you might miss a few words here and there, but that’s when you can give emotion and hit the punch line.

3️⃣ You’re not “just an SDR”.

You are a business professional trying to connect with another business professional. You have a compelling reason as to why you want to talk to them. Your time is not wasted.

Want to check the uncut full text? Here's your transcript.

Jan: [00:00] Hello, welcome. I’m so excited to have you over, Neil, not only because you are an awesome sales leader, SDR leader. You are an awesome person to follow. I think we had some climbing anecdotes the last time we spoke, and you’re also the host of a fantastic podcast that I could be part of, and now I’m inviting you to my podcast or whatever, so I’m very happy to have you. How are you today this afternoon? It’s your fifth meeting of the day. I hope you’re bearing with me.

Neil: [00:35] Thank you so much. That’s a really hard intro to follow. I’ve got to take some notes on that for my podcast. I really appreciate you allowing me to join on your show. This is super cool. How am I doing? I’m doing good. Been a busy couple of weeks doing a lot of different projects. Also working on my own podcast, but I’m in a place right now with you, passionate about sales and sales development, so I’m really good. Thank you for asking.

Jan: [01:03] Awesome. That’s great. Following your content, listening to, I think, at least 20 of your podcasts, I think I know what you’re passionate about, but Neil, what are you actually passionate about?

Neil: [01:19] What am I passionate about? In the context of sales, I’m passionate about people. What I mean about people is people that are entering into this industry of tech sales and startups for the first time, and the reason for that is because that is how I started my journey in tech sales as most of us do, and there is a thing that I’ve heard a lot of times where you’ve accidentally fallen into sales. I’ve intently gone into sales, and the reason for that was many years ago I was really into tech and gadgets, and I remember when the iPhone first came out, and I was telling everybody to buy this thing, buy this thing, and I convinced a whole bunch of people to get it. I remember one day somebody said to me hey, do you work for Apple? Are you a salesman? That’s when it tweaked with me.

I was like ooh, okay, if I can convince people to buy something that will benefit them, maybe I want to follow this on, but going into that world of tech sales was completely alien to me. I had no context. I had no benchmarks to go against, only what the recruiters and the people in that company were saying. A lot of the time we always ask ourselves the question okay, what does it take, how are we going to get there, what is it going to take out, am I going to still even have my job. These are all scary things, but I have a firm belief that you need to do something at least once a day that scares the living hell out of you, and it was a scary journey.

With that in mind, being an SDR manager, working in sales, and coaching, whatever, I see a lot of new people coming through the door, and coming into a tech company, I had that horrible thing of where a lot of people were talking down to SDRs. They’re just there to book meetings. They’re very junior people. They’re not earning as much as say some of the other people within the business. I felt like that needs to change. I don’t like that because without SDRs you have no pipeline. Your company has no lifeline. They are the first face. They are the first voice. They are the first connection. They’re the first people guiding these potential new customers into a business and service, so they have a very important job. They’re VIPs in my opinion.

With the companies that I’ve worked over the past couple of years, I’ve taken that mindset, and I hope that I’ve been able to instill it with the people that I’ve met and helped get into these companies, and yeah, I remember once my first SDR manager, a lovely lady called Kat Vasilakos – she was my SDR manager at Zuora. I remember when she took me out to my first get-to-know-each-other lunch in the US in Cali. She said “Neil, I’ve seen so many great SDRs come on board into tech companies in Silicon Valley that they’re now VPs of Sales, Marketing and even their own CEOs of their own companies, and I’m just very happy to have played a part in their career and life and helping them having a steppingstone into tech sales”, and I want to emulate that. I want to give that same feeling, so yeah, I’m one of if not one of the biggest SDR fans that you’re probably going to meet. I love SDRs and I love sales development.

Jan: [04:19] Awesome. What an answer. I love this history because that’s true. There’s a sentiment – there’s this just being an SDR sentiment. The truth is still that being an SDR will probably set you up for anything in life you want to do if you look at that. When was this point when you realized that you are passionate about elevating SDRs? Was it that time when you sat down with this manager, or when were you like okay, you like people, you had a difficult experience with SDRs or being frowned upon or not really appreciated – when was it like okay, boom, I need to elevate SDRs?

Neil: [05:09] It’s an accumulation of different experiences, I think. The first one was my first ever sales training that I received where I remember I was learning spin selling, and I went to the trainer – and again, this was a new world to me, so I was very inquisitive, and I was asking the trainer why do we do this in a particular way. Why do we ask these type of questions? Why not do it this way? Their response to me was I’m the trainer. I get paid to teach, and you get paid to listen, and I was like okay, I really don’t like that.

Then I think later on in life, coaching a lot of new hires, so I was always that first guy on the ground. New hires would come through the door, and managers or other reps would say Neil, could you sit with that person and just show them what you do, and seeing them take what I was teaching them but making it their own – and it’s something I have within Happy Selling today. I say look, whatever I’m going to teach you may have worked for me, but it may not work for you, so take the best bits of what you like, and then make it your own style. Watching them succeed really brought me some sort of gratification because I know a lot of sales and revenue leaders may find this really hard to – a pill to swallow, but I’m really not motivated by money. I’m motivated by seeing become successful by giving them a helping hand, right?

Then later in life when working for a cool tech company, Showpad, my job was in customer success, and we had a sales tool, which was used by sales reps, and my job was to train them how to use it. Every time that Zoom meeting finished on a kickoff call and training call, I would have them emailing me saying like Neil, we love the tool, but how would you do X? How would you connect on LinkedIn? How would you write a cold email? What would you do on a discovery call, etcetera? I’d always have the premise of yeah, I don’t get paid for that, but I’m happy to help you out, but helping those people as a one off was really fun, and when they respond back to you saying Neil, I got the meeting, or Neil, they connected, or Neil, we got over this problem we had with them. Thanks a lot for your help.

Getting that – how do I put this – is a bit of a pat on the back to say thank you for it, that just made me feel happier as a seller and somebody working in the sales profession, so I think an accumulation of those things over the past decade, that’s where it made me feel like okay, the SDRs, I want to help them out, and the reason why is – yeah, and a lot of the time I’d come across sales training where it was more geared to the account executive. It was the closers, right? Being an SDR, sitting in some new trainings [07:40]. I’m still struggling to have a conversation with my prospect. I’m still scared to jump into a discovery call. I’d always sit there thinking I’m just going to hand it over to the AE. I’ll just do the introduction and just hand it over, and I’d always be connecting with people on LinkedIn [08:03] thinking [08:09], so that when I became that salesperson, that was the first thing I did.

I reconnected with the people that I used to prospect and say hey, now I’m [08:20] with you, and that’s how I closed my first deal. It was a lead that I had as an SDR. I reconnected as an account executive, and the funny story is when I became a customer success manager, they were my first client that I onboarded, so I saw the whole journey from SDR to CS. I think a lot in sales sometimes we’re looking for qualifications, certifications, etcetera, but it’s those experiences which really made me a happy seller to go through, and I want to try and emulate that again for new people that are coming through the door. I don’t know if that’s been a wild tangent, but that’s when I realized.

Jan: [08:52] Awesome. No, I think it’s a fantastic answer. It’s true. When things click and things fall together on a prospect, discovery, educate, validate, close, success, and then the circle closes and so forth, so I personally can relate to that, so I think it’s an awesome answer. We say that SDR – being an SDR can set you up for a lot of things in life. You can really be successful in that role, and that’s why we should appreciate it and elevate it. What are some of the skills that you have learned that you’re applying now when you’re not an SDR anymore in your work right now?

Neil: [09:39] All of them. Every skill that I learned as an SDR is what’s helping me be successful being a founder in my own business. The talk track that I do during interviews or onboarding new hires, I give them this expectation that in essence for those first 12 months, you’re doing four roles. The first one is you’re a marketeer. You’re sharing content, case studies, white paper, and you’re educating your potential future customers, right? You’re an extension of your CMO in that department. The second one is you are a salesperson, so you’re prospecting, you’re reaching out to multiple stakeholders, you’re setting up business meetings, you’re taking down notes, you’re moving them along in a sales process over to your account executive and running really good meetings.

The third one is you become a product expert. As an SDR, you’re constantly asked questions of how does this integrate, how does this work with our API, how does this fit within our ecosystem, and you have to to an extent become knowledgeable in that. You won’t know all of that stuff right at the beginning, but you will know it as you go along because you get asked those questions by prospects, and then you have to go do your homework and learn them, right? Then the very last role is you are in essence acting like customer success because I may be speaking you today, Jan, as prospect, but you’re not ready to buy or engage with us, so I have to be able to nurture you over time, keep a pulse on you, and reactivate you and bring you back into the discussion when you’re doing so.

Those four attributes is what I took on board of launching my own business. When I launched Happy Selling a few years ago, I had to do a website, had to do case studies, had to do testimonials. I had to figure out okay, what do SDRs want, and the difference that I went into alluding to my earlier point of okay, all sales trainings were focused on the closers – the model that I designed was I want to start with the SDR, then think about the accounts executive, how it benefits them, and then how it goes to revenue generation because a lot of the time with sales trainings I’ve seen, it’s the opposite way around. We start with revenue. We talk about sales leads. Then we go to sales reps. Then we maybe think about the SDRs, right?

As a salesperson, the thing that I love about being able to do my business is I get to talk to really cool CEOs, right, because it’s normally their SDRs that introduce me. I just started a new training project where one of my former students introduced me to their CEO because they’ve been through Happy Selling. Met with their CEO, and I get to learn how they run and establish a business, how they’ve been growing, all the intricacies of how they’ve been generating revenue, so as a founder myself, I then can put that into my business and experiment with it. When it becomes a product expert – so my subject matter is sales development, and I always [12:29] look, I’m not the [12:34] I’m just [12:35] speak to a lot of people so I’m able to absorb and curate a lot of new content that I learn and then pass that on to the reps that I meet and speak to.

Again, similarly with customer success, CRO in this month, and they said look, we like Happy Selling. It looks great, but we’re just not there yet because I’ve educated them to realize they need to do a bit more work before they can start working with me. Similarly, like how you’re now running a podcast, I’m now running a separate business unit for Happy Selling training, and I’ve had to take all those skills that I’ve learned with Happy Selling to then run my company. If we go back eight or nine years ago, when I was first in my tech [13:17] job and said what do you want to get out of it, and I said I want to be a CEO of my own company, and that’s the reason why I joined tech sales as well, so yeah, I think every skill that I’ve learned as an SDR is benefiting me today.

Jan: [13:30] Awesome. Thanks, Neil. That’s awesome. It’s so inspiring to hear that you can apply those things and the things you learn now, they matter. Then take pride in it because they really, truly matter. Now that you have been running the podcast and you have established your own business, what have you learned and what patterns have you recognized of those SDRs that are successful in the role, that make it?

Neil: [14:05] I think the biggest successful traits that I’ve seen from SDRs is the ones that are willing to understand it’s not just going to come instantly. They’re patient and they know that there is a process and there’s a time to learn, but they’re open to be – to failing. I think with a lot of leaders out there, they may really push down on the SDRs that aren’t performing or aren’t getting the numbers, but it’s that spark that I’m looking for, and if you have that burning desire to learn, succeed and fail, and try and try and try again, it’s that resilience within you as well.

You’re going to be shut down by prospects on the phone, by email, everything, and not allowing it to get to you personally, which is easier said than done – yeah, it is. It is, but I think the mindset that I used to have when I was younger was anybody that tells me no fuels me to try and get that yet. I was like well, I’ll convince you somehow, or I’ll get there. I don’t care how it takes if I have to go above your head or I have to go speak to a company or competitor of yours, get them as a customer and then come back to you and say hey, we’re now working with your biggest customer. Do you want to have a conversation?

Equally, the people that are people people. I don’t know if that makes sense, but those that can make connections with other people, empathize, understand how things are on their side of the world and great relationship builders, so again, for the last few months, I’ve been interviewing well over a hundred different SDRs –

Jan: [15:37] Crazy.

Neil: [15:37] For a current client – yeah, which is mad, but I’ve met some really interesting people. The ones that really stood out to me is they have that burning passion within them to succeed in life and to try new things out. They have an interest within the business. They understand the model. They’re not just looking at it from a product perspective, but they’re seeing where this company is going, so for me, when I was an SDR, I wanted to join a hot company that were on to things and going places. That’s how I select my clients for Happy Selling. I don’t just work with anyone. I will do my research on your company to see is this somebody I want to partner with as well.

The other things, they’re open to feedback and criticism. A question I always ask in every interview is Jan, if you were able to do this interview again, is there anything that you’d be able to do different, and I look for the reps that are able to reflect and criticize themselves but then come back with how they would it different, and I’m like okay, that level of self-awareness is really key because as an SDR or a salesperson, you’re going to go through trials and tribulations, and you need to be able to reflect at the end of the day to see how can you improve. It’s something that, again, I’ve mentioned on my podcast before where I’m not looking for perfection. I’m looking for progress. If I can improve by 1% each day, by the end of the year, that’s a hell of a lot of growth, and that’s what keeps me going, and that’s what I want to see in the people that I speak to and meet to. Ultimately, they don’t take life too seriously because this is a hard job. This is a tough life.

Jan: [17:08] It is.

Neil: [17:10] They have an element of banter to them. They know that okay, they have to be serious at certain times but they’re just human. I think those are the traits that I’ve seen.

Jan: [17:21] Awesome. I think that’s a pretty solid research bank you have accumulated there, so yeah, thanks for sharing. I think maybe you’ve – you said it, the burning fire. I think curiosity is key like you said. You’re curious, right? I think that burning fire is the same like you said like curiosity, but if you’re not curious then it’s like nah, not really something – and optimism, like you said. Awesome. Thank you so much. If you could go back to the first time you started as a rep, what are the things you would’ve told your younger self?

Neil: [18:01] That’s a very difficult question to answer, and I’m going to preface it by saying I don’t really go to back and change anything because if I change any of my history, it would change me as a person and the journey that I’ve embarked on, but on the other side of the coin, if I had a cool time machine and I could go and meet the younger Neil, I think the first thing that I’d say to him it’s going to be okay, right, because the level of anxiety and stress that comes through working in sales can be detrimental to your mental health, and there were many a time where I used to sit there in an office where I had a VP next to me, and I was like okay, am I going to have a job not much longer. Am I going to hit my target? Am I going to be bringing any revenue in? Am I going to be able to successfully run a meeting on my own? All these things. If I could go back and say it’s going to be alright, it’s going to be fine.

I think another thing that I would say to myself is pay more attention, dude, and what I mean by that is be fully present because I have an innate problem where I’m constantly thinking about the future and how things are going to turn out that sometimes I’d miss what’s in front of me, so if it’s learning how to do a new sales technique, if it’s being more attentive in the discovery call and listening to what my prospects were actually saying – because a lot of the time I’d get happy ears, and I’d hear stuff that wasn’t actually being said, and then I’m trying to convince my AE take the meeting, flip the op, get it in, so yeah, take a bit more time.

Ultimately, the other thing is you don’t have to have it all figured out. I was constantly thinking about when am I going to get that promotion? When am I going to get that pay rise? Am I going to be able to afford a house on the salary that I’m on? Am I going to be able to support a family if one day that I have it? How am I going to get there? The thing is – I think I spoke to this about you before within our podcast is it’s that whole element of we always want to get from point A to point B as quick as we can, but the problem is as soon as we get to the point B, we’re already thinking about point C and how we keep moving. I’m just like but there’s so much beautiful things happening on in the actual journey itself. It all works out the way it’s supposed to in the end. Again, eight years ago, the Neil that said I want to be a CEO of my own company had no idea how I was going to do it, but I got there.

Jan: [20:21] Awesome, yeah. [20:22] to that, having your own company, it’s big, and I think a lot of people aspire to do that. You are truly a role model. The depth of reflection that you just sought, yeah, I think you would hire yourself, or I would at least hire you if I was on your team.

Neil: [20:38] Thank you.

Jan: [20:42] Prospecting tips, let’s get at a bit tactical and all. Let’s give those people listening right now some practical advice like where do you think SDRs can improve right now?

Neil: [20:57] Where can SDRs improve on is a question I…

Jan: [21:00]Maybe improve the most. They always speak about three channels and something, but what’s…

Neil: [21:08] I think the advice that I give to all SDRs and it’s the advice that I got from the likes of John Barrows when I went through their sales training is be proficient in all channels. Again, I’ve met a lot of SDRs that are really great at emails. I’ve known SDRs that are killer on the phone. I know other SDRs that are great as social selling and connecting and sharing content on LinkedIn. For me, when I was an SDR and I’d see those different traits of people, I would take time to sit with them to see how they do their thing so I could then add it into my arsenal. If I was ever questioned by somebody, all right, go do a call, I could do it. If somebody says, Neil, put a video together on video prospecting, I could do it. Obviously, I’d have my favorites that I want to do, but I always say to SDRs don’t just lean into one channel just because that’s where you’re successful. To be an all-rounded professional and adaptable, you need to be able to do them all.

I would say that where we can improve is – I’ll give you one SDR that [22:11] make sure that she sends X amount of video a day, make sure she does X amount of LinkedIn touches a day. She makes sure she has enough emails out for the day, and she also adds in the multichannel killer from my point of view, whereas I may have a rep that just does the email and just does the phone. I’ll ask myself, why is the girl getting so many LinkedIns? It’s because she’s having more channels than, say, yourself. Where can they improve? By improving on themselves the things that they should be doing but just getting better at it by trying all different things out.

I remember, when I was at Zuora, I had just had a knack for emails and LinkedIn. That’s when I generated most of my enterprise ops. Ask that Neil to do a couple of cold calls, he like, no, no, no, no. I don’t need to do – why do I need to do calls? If I’m booking all meetings, I’m just going to keep doing that. What I didn’t really realize was, when the LinkedIn and the emails were stopping and I wasn’t getting responses, I was then stuck. I had no other way to generate means and I wasn’t having commission, so I was like, all right, I need to level up now. I need to do some calls. I need to do some video prospecting.

Maybe those cadences that I had in – what was it? It was Salesloft when it first started. I remember when Salesloft was first launching. It was this new tool, and we stopped using Yesware. I was like, wow, this is magic. Again, I only had one or two sequences, and I said, yeah, these are the ones that get me all of my meetings. I realized I had to then get different personas. I had to go for different industries. I had to understand I had different hierarchies of – C-level emails are much – very different to VP emails and to end-user emails as well.

How can they improve? Improve in your craft. Just make sure that you’re able to execute on all.

Jan: [23:54] Awesome, yeah, I think it’s like – I always think about a football player. You need to be able to the hit the [24:01] with the left and the right foot. You need to be well-rounded so well-rounded professional.

Neil: [24:07] Indeed.

Jan: [24:07] Awesome. It’s hard. We all have our preferences. We all are good at things, but we have to eat the frog or whatever it’s called and do the things where we don’t like the most in the beginning of the day. Then we have it done, and then it gets easier and easier and easier and easier. It’s difficult, so yeah, thanks for reminding us to do that.

You have run through a lot of one-on-ones and have done a lot of managing and a lot of elevating SDRs. What’s the perfect one-on-one for you?

Neil: [24:42] Perfect one-on-one for me is a rep that comes prepared. Again, if I’m doing between four to eight one-to-ones in a week, that’s eight hours of my time, and I’m doing operational stuff throughout the day and responding to Slacks and joining leadership meetings. When I come to that meeting, I want to know the rep knows their numbers, their figures, currently what they’re working on. What is their strategy for the week oncoming? Again, this could either be just a discussion. This could just be a meeting agenda, or like I did with my current SDRs is we have one-to-one templates. At the beginning of that template, we have the bullet points of what we discussed in the previous meeting. When I get on to that call, I want to say, Jan, last week we spoke about building out a new sequence. Last week, we spoke about spending more time in the discovery calls and asking more open-ended questions. Where are we at with those, and what has been the outcome from that?

Then what I’d like to know is, okay, where are you with your numbers? Again, I haven’t got time to jump into the CRM and look at the dashboard. If you can just put it to me, it just helps me understand where you’re at and if there’s anything [25:48] of them to do is share their highlights of the week. What successes have come about? What are you proud of? I’d like you to list them down, the bullet points, but then talk to me about them. Talk me through that.

Then what I want to know is, okay, so what are your plans for the week? You may say, well, I’m going to do X amount of calls and I’m going to reach out to this person, da-da-da-da-da. Then I want to know is, okay, so what’s your game plan to get there? I know where you want to get to, but how do you see that coming? Then, ultimately, is there anything else that I can do between now and next week to help you out? If you come to this meeting with this information prepared, then it helps me help you. I can look at this document maybe ten minutes before we jump in or even the night before if you’re able to do it that early. Then I can come to that meeting with tools, tips, advice, or sometimes it could just be a case of, Jan, it looks like you know what you’re doing. I don’t really want to interfere with it, crack on, and when you do need my help, let me know.

Jan: [26:45] Awesome. I’ve been struggling with that. I didn’t got the reps to prepare to the degree that I wanted them to prepare. How do you implement that? The advice I have been getting was don’t take the meeting. If they’re not prepared, don’t take the meeting.

Neil: [27:04] Yeah, that’s a good one. I’ve been doing this for the last six months with my current team, and we’ve had some new hires. What used to typically happen was we jump into the meeting. I go into the shared drive folder. I look for their sheet, and it’s not filled. Sometimes what I do and ask a rep is to fill it out there and then, and that’s a lesson. We’re not going to get down to business until you’ve completed having it done beforehand.

What I’d asked the rep to do is put a calendar reminder the day before to remind yourself to fill in that document so that when you meet with Neil it’s ready to rock and roll, and once you do that a couple of times, then it hits home. All right, this is an important meeting. This is time with my manager. I need to come prepared. Again, I can give you all the advice under the sun. I can tell you what to be doing, but it’s what you want to be doing. I want you to feel more enabled and empowered that you’re a CEO of your own territory and time. I can’t be here to hand-hold you the whole time. I need people that are self-sufficient.

Yeah, my advice to you is ask your reps to fill it in. Sometimes the other side of it is, Jan, sometimes these sheets and these templates don’t work for everyone, so I do have some reps where we tried to do the template thing. We tried to do the sheet, and it’s just never filled in. They just want to have a conversation with me. They just want to vent, or they just want to ask my advice on one or two things. I’ll put the power back in their hands by saying how do you feel the ones – one would best work for you? Everybody’s individual. Those that need a bit more structure and guidance and handholding, the document’s a great place. For those that are more seasoned vets that know what they’re doing, they just want a check-in. Then just use the time for that so, yeah, documents, calendar reminders to live and die by your calendar. Then equally ask them what do they want to get out, and how do they want to execute their meeting with you?

Jan: [28:58] Awesome. Now my favorite question of all time. What’s the craftiest way you have been prospected because you get prospected a lot, Neil?

Neil: [29:07] That’s a very, very good question, and I have to say it’s not the craftiest way, but you were the well-crafted way of prospecting me.

Jan: [29:17]Thanks, man.

Neil: [29:19] I loved it. I absolutely loved the way that you got in contact with me. Obviously, you connected with me on LinkedIn. That’s what everybody does. You then sent me a video message. Again, a lot of people do that, but I saw the HappySelling sign. I was just like he’s got my company’s name on a board. I’m intrigued, so I’m going to click. You gave an element of research, what you’ve been knowing about my podcast, what you know about me. I was like, okay, the guy knows his stuff.

Then you ended it on a really good analogy of wanting to create a spark between us, so you had a lighter in your hand. You sparked it, and you lit the flame. I was like, okay, my man’s got my attention now. He’s really put the work in. That is what encourages me to reply and get back to you. Yeah, it came into a fruitful discussion, and here we are today.

Jan: [30:06] Awesome.

Neil: [30:07] People that take the time, that really put in not just a sales pitch or I’m this person and I’m great and I do this and this is a service we provide, you made it about me. When I see that heart in a prospecting attempt, then I will give 110% back to that person and come back to them, so yeah, you were the most crafted person of prospecting me.

Jan: [30:31] Oh, that’s awesome. Yeah, thank you so much. It was great. It was very entailed, very spontaneous. I was like, oh, yeah, du-du-du. Then it happened, so yeah, thank you. Thank you so much, and I love this heart thing. People like to hide behind the script. It’s okay, but you don’t have to. Be yourself. The script is there to guide you, but then you have to own it and make it your own.

People will realize this guy’s looking at a separate screen. He’s reading from something else. They will realize that, and I think that that is the tip that I could get or how I was thinking about you, prospect. I just tried to speak to you and wanted to give you the attention that you deserve for your show. I didn’t really care about myself because I’m just a rep. I’m just an SDR, cool. Thanks, Neil.

Neil: [31:31] I’d say…

Jan: [31:32] Yeah, go ahead.

Neil: [31:34] Just three tips, exactly what you’re saying with – when you’re reaching out is – so it’s a level of empathy that I think is a key thing for SDRs. Imagine how your prospect will receive the information and how they’re going to view it, so making things really clear and easy to understand, removing out the jargon, and knowing that your face is for the first time they’re going to see it. You’re going to blow their mind, so you want to make a really good impression those first 30 seconds. You did that. In terms of script, it’s totally fine to have a script. I think, with certain tools, you can even put a teleprompter within there.

It’s the same way I do music. I have to write lyrics down on a piece of paper. I have to play the instrument, and I have to practice it a couple of times. Know that, if I go into a recording story reading it, it’s going to sound very monotone, and there’s not going to be passion. What I find is, the more I practice the song, the more I practice the song, I then don’t have to look at the lyric sheet anymore. I may miss a few words here and there, but that’s when I hit the punch and the punch lines. I give emotion to it and I’m like yeah. That’s how I’m going to get down. If you can convey that in your videos, that’s what people are looking for, and you’re staying authentic to yourself.

To add on, you’re not just an SDR. You are a business professional trying to connect with another business professional. You have a compelling reason as to why you want to talk to them. Your times not wasted then.

Jan: [32:52] Thanks. Thanks for getting – filling that spin back. It was needed. I was waiting for that. Time is running, but I really would like to get your thoughts on what you’re currently excited about in the revenue space. What do you see changing, and what do you think – what are you excited about in the space right now in the next years?

Neil: [33:20] What I’m excited about is future people such as yourself. I think, since lockdown, we’ve heard this whole thing about the Great Resignation. Again, I’m not an expert on this topic per se. The way that I see it is last year I saw a lot of people coming from different backgrounds, different industries, different jobs, and different careers and entering into tech sales. With that, they brought a new mindset and a new way of doing things, so my LinkedIn feed is flooded with all these cool, new SDRs that are trying out new techniques.

I think the way that Tien Tzuo, my first ever CEO that I went to, and the analogy that I can bring from him is there are established businesses that run the world like the Barclays Bank of the world, the Capital ones like ING, all these people that are established. He says, Neil, you get these really cool startups, and these guys are called the disrupters. They come into the market. They’re very small. Nobody knows who the hell they are, but they have this effect within the market where they start picking up businesses. Again, looking at Salesloft from when they first started to where they are now, they were disrupters back in the day. You had the companies of Pardot and Oracle with their marketing systems and tracking, etc. Salesloft just changed the game, dude, and they disrupted these big people.

The way I look at SDRs of today is they’re going to be the disrupters of the VPs of sales the way companies are going to market with prospecting and stuff, and I’m excited to see what they bring in. As an SDR fan, I’m always trying to better my craft. What better way to learn from the next gen coming through the door?

Jan: [34:54] Awesome, yeah. That’s a cool take to have. I hadn’t had the time to reflect upon that, but I see it coming as well. It’s getting more difficult. The profession’s elevated because it’s getting more difficult, so we need to be more creative and become our own business owners and do shows like this. I don’t know, connect to – start with social selling. Do a podcast like you, so awesome. This is one of the last ones, and then we can pick other topics that we would like to speak about. I would like to give you the closing word as well because you deserve it, Neil.

Neil: [35:34] Thank you.

Jan: [35:34] How do you find time to focus on the right things?

Neil: [35:39] That’s a really good question. How do I plan? I am a person that lives and dies by my calendar, which may not be for everybody, but unless it’s in my calendar, it’s not happening or it doesn’t exist. What I have to do, again, I learned from one of my [35:58], my podcast is Sunday prep and planning. I’ll always look a week ahead on a Sunday to see again what’s happening. A really cool thing – just for the watchers at home, you can see my board. I’ve got a to-do list over here of all the things I need to be doing. Something I started implementing last year was adding an emoji to every task and thing that I’m doing in the day. If it’s to do a business meeting with HappySelling, I put a dollar sign against it. If it’s doing a coaching and a training session for a bunch of SDRs, then I put a heart against it because that’s what I’m really passionate about, and if I’m doing something for fun, like I record – recording this podcast today, I put a smiley face against it.

[36:38] I’m always ensuring that I’m either – it’s drawing me closer to my revenue goals to help me grow my business. It’s ensuring that I’m improving my craft and doing what I love doing, and I also add things in which make me happy and is separate to the world of what I’m doing as work. If you do things that you love doing, then it doesn’t really feel like work. I try to put that across all aspects of my life, so if I’m going to the gym, it’s to improve my health and give me more longevity. If it’s meeting up with friends, it’s to improve my mental health, reconnect with people, and switch off from my laptop. If it’s writing music, it’s helping me increase my creativity in my head. I think the really hard thing in sales is sometimes we don’t have time to think or breathe because we’re so caught up in doing this, this, this, this, this. We don’t take time for ourself, so I add these things to my calendar as well.

In the morning, I do my gratitude as to what ten things I’m grateful for. I make sure that I put some meditation in just before lunch, and then at the end of the day, I then reflect upon three things I’m grateful for that I got done in that day that really excite me. By doing that, I learned this from another SDR, persistence equals – no, being persistently consistent equals results and helps you become a happier person.

Jan: [37:55] What a way to sum this up. Neil, do you want to say anything else to the audience? You want to add something? Where can people find you, yeah, if they enjoyed this – listening to you?

Neil: [38:07] Thank you so much. Firstly, I just want to say thank you for allowing me to be on your show. I am a big fan of yours. This is a privilege for me. That’s the first thing. Secondly, for anybody out there, like with me, I want to be that person that new SDRs can talk to and get advice, even if it’s before coming into the profession. I spoke to a really guy – a cool guy today. Oh, man, six months ago he was struggling where he wanted to go in life and what he wanted to do for work, had a meeting with him today, and he just said six months and he’s smashing it. He’s an SDR. He’s really happy, and I made some sort of impact on him. Again, I only take a very small piece of that. I want to do that for as many people as I can.

Ultimately, keep an eye on Jan because, dude, the content, the advice on prospecting and helping other SDRs understand new techniques, I fricking love it, and I love your posts. Make sure that you follow him. If you want to check me out, just check us out on our socials, and just DM me if you’ve got any questions.

Jan: [39:11] Thank you so much, Neil. That was awesome.

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