The Role of a Sales Development Representative: Fundamentals for Success


Joseph Grieves & Michael Hanson

The Role of a Sales Development Representative: Fundamentals for Success


Reading Time: 8 minutes

The Role of a Sales Development Representative: Fundamentals for Success

Joseph Grieves & Michael Hanson

There is more to being a master salesperson than picking up the phone day by day. While cold calling is, undoubtedly, a big part of the role of a sales development representative, much more goes into being successful at the job.

Role of a Sales Development Representative

Understanding your target market and being clear on your company’s value proposition are fundamental parts of the process that need to be in place to set your sales development program up for success.

In this chapter, you’ll gain expert advice regarding these fundamental elements from the Head of Sales Enablement at Operatix, Joseph Grieves and CEO and Founder of Sales Enablement company Growth Genie, Michael Hanson.

Joe talks us through cold calling and script writing best practices, while Michael gives his expert insight into email cadences. We’ll also delve into the role of a sales development representative, including the importance of defining both an ICP and a target persona, as well as how to use social media to increase sales activities.

This guide to the role of a sales development representative is part of our SDR Handbook – a free comprehensive guide to building and managing a sales development team. Download now for more tips and expert advice.

The Role of a Sales Development Representative:

  1. Defining Your ICP
  2. Target Personas
  3. Cold Calling & Script Writing Best Practices
  4. Email Cadences & Sequences best practices
  5. Social Selling Best Practices
  6. Role of a Sales Development Representative Toolkit
  7. The Role of a Sales Development Representative Summary

Defining Your ICP

Creating an Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) can cement your team’s understanding of the companies they should target. One of the first mistakes people make when creating an ICP is assuming they should define the buyer they want to target. In actuality, an ICP is a business profile. It outlines the core characteristics of the ideal business that would make them the ideal fit for the solution your company offers.

When creating your ICP, consider the following:

  • Industry
  • Budget and Revenue
  • Company Size
  • Geographic Location – Do you want to focus on or exclude any locations?
  • Legalities – Any legal reasons that may limit your target customer base, such as government restrictions
  • Product or Service Limitations
  • Number of Employees

Outlining an ICP allows for better alignment between the sales and marketing teams, not to mention more meaningful conversations.

Target Personas

While an ICP is related to the type of company you want to target, a target persona relates more to the profile of the individual within the organization you are looking to target. This profile goes beyond just demographics, but rather sets out to envision the needs, pain points and buying process of your target customer, as well as how they make decisions.

They typically include:
• Occupation and seniority level
• Business goals and motivations
• Responsibilities within the business
• Challenges and pain points
• Buyer processes and journey

Using a target persona will allow your SDRs to quickly identify which individuals in an account are a good fit or which need to be disqualified. Try to summarise both your ICP and target persona profiles into easy-to-digest paragraphs that can quickly be referred to whenever needed.

Email Signatures 4

Cold Calling and Script Writing Best Practices

Teaching your SDRs to be expert communicators on the phone should always be a priority. This goes beyond following a strict script when picking up the phone, but rather having a high level of confidence and understanding of the prospective client’s specific needs and challenges when doing so.

“It’s not an easy thing to teach; you have to help people craft a solid message that will resonate with the person – a lot of it comes down to the performance of the pitch, too,” explains Joe, “It’s not only about teaching SDRs how to craft a good message but also how to deliver it in a way that is engaging.

“Cold calling is like an art form, it’s teaching people how to be good storytellers. Training must involve bringing people out of their shells and bringing that performance to each and every conversation they have.”

When helping SDRs hone their cold-calling skills and writing their sales pitches, Joe recommends training them using the below six-step methodology:

Step one: why you’re calling

Step two: who you are and what your business does

Step three: the relevant pain points your solution/service solves

Step four: the benefits your solution/service provides

Step five: offering validation, aka who else uses the solution or other evidence it works such as statistics

Step six: the close, tying up the conversation

By using this methodology and training SDRs to include the six steps when preparing their pitch, they’ll have more meaningful conversations while ensuring the necessary information is included.

A pitch should cover the main talking points, potential objections and be a conversational structure rather than a word-for-word conversation. It should be a blueprint of the conversation; after all, SDRs can’t predict everything the lead will say, so they should be prepared for every avenue of the conversation rather than what they hope will happen.

Rejection is a very common part of cold calling and something that should be anticipated. Objection handling should be a key part of sales training via roleplaying and practising answers to the common objections that are likely to come up.

During training, Joe recommends that you undergo roleplay sessions with new SDRs and listen in on calls, ensuring you can answer the following questions with a resounding ‘yes’:

  • Do they sound confident in what they are selling?
  • Are they delivering the message in a clear, easy-to-understand way?
  • Are they concise rather than rambling?
  • Is what they’re saying enticing?

Joe calls this the CCE Method: Confident, Concise and Enticing.

“If you want your sales reps to be successful, you’ve got to coach them, listen to their calls, do role plays and walk them through the admin they have to do,” says Joe, “You need to engage with people and it should be an ongoing process.”

Email Cadences & Sequences Best Practices

A multi-touch approach is where a salesperson initiates contact with a prospective customer multiple times with multiple different platforms or methods. This typically includes LinkedIn, email campaigns and phone calls.

While your SDRs may prioritise cold calling, this doesn’t mean you should neglect email campaigns. They can build brand awareness, particularly if your reps summarise the solution in a way that resonates with the lead’s business goals.

“I never recommend email in isolation, it should be used in combination with phone calls, LinkedIn etc,” Michael Hanson, CEO and Founder of Growth Genie, says, “Email is a tool that can build brand awareness – the good thing about email is that they can respond in their own time, whereas if you call someone and they don’t answer, it’s finished. That email is in their inbox forever, essentially, unless they delete it.”

However, opening rates on emails are declining as more and more emails are filling a business person’s inbox. Again, this doesn’t mean avoiding sending emails to prospects but rather tailoring them to be as engaging as possible. Everything from the subject line to the content itself should be personalised to pique the interest of the recipient, otherwise, it’ll get lost in the sea of unanswered emails.

“We recommend a 30-touch cadence, which is basically seven emails, seven LinkedIn touchpoints, then around ten to 15 calls. Each channel works together; LinkedIn is good for research, you can find out lots of information then send them an email about it,” recommends Michael, “But maybe they don’t respond to your email, which is where a phone call comes in or you reach out via LinkedIn. They all work together.

“I know marketing leaders, and generally people are like ‘oh yeah, email is dead. I get hundreds of emails a day. I never check email’, but that’s just one person. I know, like another CEO of a 300-person company. He only responds to emails. He never responds to LinkedIn or WhatsApp or anything. So you just have to work out where your buyer lives and make sure you reach them on their preferred channel.”

Some tips for creating successful email cadences:
• Rather than pitching straight away and going in for the hard sell, give them something for free to help build the relationship. This could be anything from eBooks and case studies to blog posts and podcasts, just ensure it has value to do them.
• You can then tie the above back to a sales conversation; if they engage with a certain topic, then you can assume this may be a pain point of theirs.
• Experimenting with what works with your intended audience is key – what works for one person may not work for the other. Include different types of content in each email and keep track of which type receives the most engagement.
• When structuring your email, include the trigger event (reason for contacting the prospect), the pain point of the business, how you can solve this pain point and a call to action.
• While you can use a template, you still need to personalize aspects of the email to ensure it targets the prospect’s needs and pain points.
• Be careful when using links or attachments in the first email, as this can end up going straight to the spam folder. Instead, give them a brief summary of the content you’d like to send and ask them if it would be of interest.
• Ensure to follow up with emails with a ‘bump’ email, just in case they missed it the first time around. This can be automated.

“You can create a structure, but the most successful salespeople put their own personality, into selling and in their email,” recommends Michael, “You don’t want your SDRs to be robots.”

B2B SaaS lead generation

Social Selling Best Practices

As the role bridges the gap between sales and marketing, it should come as little surprise that social media platforms have become a big part of an SDR’s toolkit, especially LinkedIn. Building a personal brand on LinkedIn can not only make it easier to find leads and contact names but also increase inbound leads.

Here are some social selling best practices:
• Portray yourself authentically and creatively – don’t be afraid to show off your personality in posts
• Post relevant content that your audience will naturally engage with and find interesting, ensuring
to do so regularly (consistency is key)
• Take advantage of the algorithm by keeping an eye on what is popular in your niche and industry – add
your own flair and opinion, as well as interact with other pieces of content to offer your input
• People are more likely to buy from those they trust, so prioritize genuine interaction and build
• Add a note that sparks conversation and introduces you when connecting with people
• Join relevant LinkedIn groups, ensuring to engage with posts
• Track engagement to see what type of content is a hit with your audience – just be careful not to
become repetitive.

Don’t overlook the power of social media and personal branding. It may not be a traditional tactic, but platforms like LinkedIn are revolutionizing sales and marketing.

Role of a Sales Development Representative Toolkit:

The CCE Method by Joseph Grieves
How to Build a Personal Brand by Daniel Disney
How to Get Outbound Sales Development Cadences Right by Michael Hanson
• Drive Sales by Investing in your Personal Brand by Dale Dupree
Simplifying Sales Emails: Creating Compelling Campaigns by Ollie Whitfield

The Role of a Sales Development Representative Summary:

• Your ICP and target personas need to be clearly defined to understand your audiences
• Not only should your SDRs understand how to craft a good message, but also how to deliver it in a way that is enticing
• Sales representatives should not just rely on cold calling, ensuring to spend time delivering creative email sequences and social media messaging
• A multi-touch approach, where an SDR initiates contact with a prospective customer multiple times on different platforms, is essential in getting the best from your leads

For more expert advice on building and managing a sales development team, download our free SDR Handbook no sign-up required.

About Operatix

Operatix is a Sales Acceleration company specialized in supporting B2B Software vendors to identify new revenue streams, increase qualified sales pipeline, and accelerate channel development across Europe and North America. Operatix has a wealth of experience in working with the biggest tech players worldwide as well as a multitude of emerging software vendors.

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Channel Transformation

Digital transformation is changing how companies buy and use business solutions, making vendors re-assess the capabilities of their channel ecosystem. With channel dynamics in constant flux, vendors need to be ready to cut ties with partners that don’t share their vision or have connections with the right B2B buyers.


Operatix has supported numerous vendors in their path to Channel transformation by assessing current partners and recruiting new partners that are more aligned with their new channel strategy. Once the right partners have been identified, Operatix built scalable outbound sales development programs that accelerated their routes to market.

Inbound Response Management

In a competitive industry like technology every lead counts. Operatix can help you maximize conversion from MQL to SQL and from lead to pipeline, increasing both your revenue and ROI on marketing activities.

Account Identification

Identifying the accounts that are more likely to buy from you is part of our expertise. We will research the market, identify verticals and industries that can benefit from your solution and set up qualified sales engagements for your teams to kick-off the sales process. 

Cold Prospecting

Our team will identify new sales opportunities within the strategic accounts that you haven’t been successful in penetrating through your sales & marketing efforts. By applying the ‘Challenger Sale’ methodology we use a tailored, multitouch approach to connect with prospects, generating qualified sales engagements for your team and ultimately increasing your pipeline.

Outbound Sales Development

Using a proactive outbound sales approach has been proven to be one of the most effective methods to engage with prospective customers. By applying the ‘Challenger Sale’ methodology we use a tailored, human approach to getting in touch with prospects to increase your qualified sales engagements and ultimately generate more pipeline.

Outbound Sales Development

Using a proactive outbound sales approach has been proven to be one of the most effective methods to engage with prospective customers. By applying the ‘Challenger Sale’ methodology we use a tailored, human approach to getting in touch with prospects to increase your qualified sales engagements and ultimately generate more pipeline.

Partner Concierge Service

Our Partner Concierge Service helps vendors accelerate their channel programs, by engaging and nurturing channel partners and supporting them to get to revenue quicker.

Demand Generation

Whether you need to implement a demand generation strategy or get more results out of your existing demand gen engine, Operatix can work alongside your marketing team to yield better results out of your demand generation programs.

Account-based Marketing

An Account-based Marketing strategy is only as successful as the revenue it generates. At Operatix we will support your 1:1, 1:few or 1:many approach to get your team in front of decision makers in the accounts that matter the most to you. 

Lead Qualification

If your marketing leads aren’t converting, it might be a lead qualification issue. Operatix can help sieve through leads that need further qualification, so they are ready for an AE or sales team member to engage with.

Account-based Selling

At Operatix we will support your 1:1, 1:few or 1:many approach to get your team in front of decision makers in the accounts that matter the most to you. 

Pipeline Generation

Generating Pipeline for our clients is our key-objective. And we do that by using a multi-touch, multi-channel approach to generate qualified sales engagements for our customers’ sales teams.   

Account Intelligence / Deep Dive

Understanding buying centres, hierarchies and relevant personas in strategic accounts is a fundamental step to increase conversion rates. By leveraging account intelligence in a sales conversation your team can tailor their message and provide value to their prospective customer. But sales & marketing teams often struggle to dedicate time and resources to do the deep research and this is where Operatix can help.

DMID – Decision Maker Identification

Finding quality data is an on-going challenge for B2B Tech vendors. The accuracy of data platforms is questionable and that is why Operatix developed a manual process to identify & verify contact details for decision makers within strategic target accounts.

Playbook design

Operatix can develop Sales Playbooks that enable teams to sell more effectively. Your Playbook will be fundamental to get your messaging right, accurately position your solution against competitors, and adapt the communication of your value proposition to different buyer personas.

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Sales Playbook Development

Operatix can develop Sales Playbooks that enable teams to sell more effectively. Your Playbook will be fundamental to implementing the correct messaging, accurately position your solution against competitors, and adapting the communication of your value proposition to different buyer personas.

Lead Qualification

If your leads aren’t converting, it might be a lead qualification issue. Operatix can help filter through leads that need further qualification, ensuring that they’re ready for an AE or sales team member to engage with and progress through the funnel. 

Partner Portal / Marketing Concierge Service

Vendors often spend thousands of dollars building multifunctional Partner Portals to help channel partners educate their teams, manage opportunities, and create marketing programs. Still, these portals are often underutilized due to lack of bandwidth and capacity from vendors to offer support in enabling their partner community. Operatix, through their Partner Development team, can support your partners to make the best use out of your partner portal, managing the relationship with your partners and helping them set up co-marketing campaigns to drive more revenue for both businesses. 

Marketing & Sales Alignment

The sales development function is often seen as the “glue” that brings sales & marketing teams together. By working as an extension of your teams, Operatix will be your predictable source of pipeline, sales & revenue.

Optimization of MDF

Market Development Funds are an important component of any channel ecosystem, though vendors believe they are not maximizing the return on investment they should be getting from their MDF programs. At Operatix, we build scalable outbound sales development programs that will give you the visibility of return over the invested spend and will provide clear value for your channel partners.

Increase Partner Productivity

The 80/20 rule is still very applicable to the channel, which means that investing in partner productivity should be a priority for vendors looking to grow their businesses. Operatix can increase partner productivity and shorten sales cycles, by identifying ready to engage sales opportunities for your most valued channel partners.

Virtual Channel Account managers

Our VCAM team is responsible for building, maintaining, and managing sound relationships with current and prospective channel partners. They can get involved in opening up new sales conversations as well as closing small businesses up to $ 10k.

Tier 1 & Tier 2 Activation

Whether your business decided for a Tier 1 or Tier 2 distribution model, Operatix can help your channel partners get to revenue quicker. By providing qualified sales engagements to your channel partners we can accelerate your route to market with tangible and easily measurable results.

Solution Selling Training

Far too often vendors insist on enabling their channel partners to talk about features and technical details of their solutions. Customers don’t buy features; they buy the benefits your solution can bring. Operatix will work with your partner community to train them in articulating your message from a high-level business perspective, enabling them to talk to prospects about the value your solution can bring to their company from a board-level perspective.

Channel Enablement

Enabling your channel partners have measurable wins for your business when done right. Operatix has a proven track record in enabling channel partners from a sales & marketing perspective, providing them the knowledge and tools to successfully pitch your solution and sell the value & benefits of it. 

Partner Recruitment

Recruiting the right Channel Partners is the first step for a successful channel program. Operatix has helped over 350 B2B Software vendors recruit suitable channel partners across EMEA and North America, supporting them to scale and expand their presence in different geographies and verticals. 

Risk/Reward Business Model

To truly work as an extension of our client’s sales & marketing teams, we have also adapted our business models to show how our clients operate, and how their success is measured. With our risk/reward business model your investment is proportional to the results our team delivers.

Sales Qualified Leads

On average, 52.5% of the sales engagements set up by our team progress into a next step in the sale process. That means that 5 out of 10 meetings will progress either into a POC, a Demo or a pipeline opportunity.

Geographical Scale

Trading in different geographical markets not only requires a knowledge of the native language, local rules & policies, but a deeper understanding of the local culture and habits. We have the ability to deliver campaigns in multiple countries with flexible resource allocation. This is through our team of international speakers, who have the ability to sell in 17 different languages across the globe.

Increase Revenue & Decrease Cost

Building an internal sales development team comes with many additional costs and challenges that aren’t always taken into account: recruiting resources, training and enabling them etc. You also need to take into account the need for having the data and tools to make them successful, which in turn requires time, capital and effort. By outsourcing your sales development to Operatix you will see your revenue increasing, while decreasing costs and business risk.

Predictable Pipeline Generation

On average, our clients see a 26X ROI on the programs we deliver. By understanding your revenue targets and sales pipeline gap, we will work on a sales & marketing plan that will deliver tangible results.

Vertical Growth

Entering new industries or launching new product lines? Operatix can accelerate your growth by supporting your go-to-market strategy, and getting your sales teams in front of decision makers in key target accounts.

Reduce Headcount

By outsourcing your sales development and partner programs to Operatix; we reduce headcount and the challenges that come with managing people, technologies, and processes. We take care of your sales development, so you can focus on what matters the most: growing your business.

Revenue Acceleration

Operatix helps your business get to revenue quicker. By providing qualified sales engagements for your direct sales team (to kick-off new sales cycles), or by accelerating the growth of your channel partners, our focus remains on delivering tangible results for your business. 

Persona-based Selling

Operatix team will design specifically tailored messages to influence the different levels of decision makers in the sales process, tailoring the communication according to each job function. Our focus is to sell the value of your solution from a business perspective, not its features.    

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