We all can agree that first impressions matter.

It matters when you meet the parents.

It matters for that job interview.

It matters at the very moment a brand shows up for a prospect.

For many companies, the first impression of their brand is delivered by the sales development team.

Let me say that again: Your sales development team is the first impression to your future customers.

It goes without saying, but this alone is a reason why business and sales leaders need to view sales development as a highly strategic function within the business. As a manager of sales development, it is critical to set your reps up for success from day one.

Here are a few tips to make sure your front line is ready to deliver an exceptional first impression.

Focus on problems

No one wants to hear about the product you sell. They want to believe that you understand the problem they and their market faces.

Before you send SDRs out to the market, educate them on the problems within the prospect’s industry and why it’s important that those problems get solved.

Demonstrating this knowledge to prospects fosters credibility and trust, and dramatically increases the rep’s chances of sharing how your product or service is positioned to make their problem disappear.

When the rep truly begins to understand the impact that is made on business when their challenges are solved, they can make a tighter connection between the problem and the solutions they are selling.

Research pays off

When a rep doesn’t spend some time getting to know a prospect or an account, it shows. Every time. And the opposite is also true: When a rep is armed with critical information about a prospect and their company, it shows. Every time.

Help your reps by establishing research criteria that gives them relevant information that proves that they did their homework, helping to increase… wait for it… credibility and trust, leading to more successful outcomes.

It doesn’t need to be complicated or time-consuming. Identify 3 – 5 pieces of information that the rep should learn before they send that first email or pick up the phone. Show them how they can use what they learn to personalize their message and demonstrate that they can speak their prospect’s language.

Continuous coaching

Each call and conversation that takes place is an opportunity to learn. It doesn’t matter how well the call script is memorized. In fact, a memorized script isn’t the goal.

Rather, SDRs need to be nimble and ready for anything. But even the best can get tripped up, or miss a cue from the prospect.

With a dedication to continuous coaching, every rep is given the chance to effortlessly navigate conversations with strangers. Like Neo dodging bullets in the Matrix.

When we review our SDR’s conversations, we focus on a few key things:

Get to the point and get permission:

Make sure the rep isn’t launching into a 30-second script with their name, the company they work for, what the solution does, and asking if the prospect has the problem you solve.

Instead, coach the rep to be respectful. They can simply ask: “Did I catch you with a minute.” When the prospect says yes, the rep should be truthful: “This is a sales call, but I promise to keep it short and to the point.”

Then, have them state a problem they are aware of in the prospect’s market and ask permission to ask them a question: “I talk with IT leaders every day who are impacted by the talent shortage of developers. Can I ask you a question about this?”

Listen

Now that they’ve tee’d up a compelling question, they need to let the prospect answer. Reps who listen more than they talk have better outcomes. They should let the prospect fully answer the question. Don’t rush them and don’t talk over them.

When the rep slows down and gives the prospect time to respond, it frees the rep to follow up with a thoughtful response or with probing questions to learn more.


It’s been said already, but the most important thing a rep can do when engaging with prospects is to establish credibility and to earn their trust. That only happens when the rep demonstrates knowledge that is relevant to the prospect.

So, take the time to polish that first impression. Because in the end, when the front line team is successful, the business is successful.