7 minutes
April 9, 2021

Top sales development representative skills every team member needs

In modern sales, what sales development representative skills matter most? These are the SDR skills every team member starting out in sales should learn in 2024 and beyond.
Sabrina Jowders
Table of Contents

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Key Takeaways

  • In the modern world of B2B sales, sales development reps need to master personalized outreach, social selling, and the use of video to effectively engage prospects and build relationships.
  • High-performing SDRs continuously update their skills, including hard skills like creating personalized videos and soft skills like active listening and empathy, to better understand and respond to prospect needs and objections.
  • One of the most important skills for SDRs is knowing when to pivot strategies, including recognizing when to walk away from unfruitful engagements while maintaining professionalism to potentially re-engage in the future.

Whether you’re a seasoned Sales Development Representative (SDR) or have just accepted a new position, the nature of the job means there’s always room for improvement. The standard process for SDRs of sending out sequenced emails, calling, and leaving voicemails is no longer working as well as it once has. There are too many distractions, too many other priorities, and people are busier than ever.

To help combat the struggles SDRs face, we’ve laid out the groundwork for success by compiling ten skills all SDRs should master to get the best results possible in their role.

What makes a good SDR: the mindset

The role of a Sales Development Representative is not easy. The position requires an assertive, proactive mentality, with plenty of hard work and dedication to succeed. While it’s understandable that the role’s demands will cause many SDR to experience discouragement at some point, dwelling in a negative headspace will only thwart progress. Overcoming setbacks is possible by adopting the mindset of a high-performing SDR. So, how do you enter that mental space?
Low-performing SDRs are prone to adopting a defeatist mindset. In the limited perspective, the prospect’s time and energy is more valuable than their own, making a connection impossible. . This mental block is unfortunately experienced by many SDRs at some point.

The logic behind this mindset is simple. SDRs typically reach out to high-level decision-makers: the C-Suite and VPs, or at least director-level executives. These are people who often have decades of experience in their field, certifications, awards, accolades. They've been there and done that. That high-performing background can intimidate SDRs, especially if they are inexperienced.

In order to pivot from a low-performing mindset to a high-performing one, SDRs must view the prospect and themselves as equals. This is the primary factor that separates high-performing SDRs from low-performing ones.

The three most important qualities for embracing a high-performing mindset in sales are:

  1. Self-belief: Have confidence in yourself and your abilities
  2. Product belief: Know that what you’re offering brings real value to prospects
  3. Preparation: Research prospects beforehand, knowing what angles are most likely to register with them

Once you start working with these three qualities, you can bolster them with skills that complement that mental approach. More specifically, we’ve come up with ten skills that will help you become a high performing SDR.

Top 10 SDR Skills Every High-Performing Team Member Needs

All SDRs who thrive are able to work with these skills:

  1. Customized Outreach
  2. Social Selling
  3. Video Prospecting
  4. Sales Training Does Not End At 30 Days
  5. Coachability
  6. Organization
  7. Relationship-Building
  8. Active Listening
  9. Empathy
  10. Know When to Walk Away

Customized outreach

Sales leaders get dozens of cold emails every week. Unless you give them a good reason to read your email, it’s likely to go unseen. Personalization is key to getting sales leaders to read your cold outreach: personalized sales videos, for example, are a great way to start.

If you are having trouble with your sales messaging and personalizing your outreach, try the 10-minute game. The 10-minute game is something came up with after studying why his sales team was performing so few activities. It wasn’t that the sales reps were lazy or lacked drive; it came down to where they were directing their focus. The game works in this manner: give the rep ten minutes has to find a new account, add that contact into their sales tools, research them, and do a touch. This not only allows reps to prospect in a time-friendly manner, but also includes that ever-important dose of personalization.

Social selling

One of the most revolutionary changes we’ve seen in the sales world is in the power of social selling. According to LinkedIn, salespeople are 51% more likely to hit quota with social selling. In simplest terms, social selling is a lead-generation technique where salespeople directly interact with their prospects on social media platforms like LinkedIn.

How do you tackle social selling as a sales rep? It’s all about using your social network to build a community of prospects, build relationships with those prospects, and ultimately turn those prospects into customers. As LinkedIn & Social Selling Author, Keynote Speaker, and LinkedIn Trainer Daniel Disney says, “A digital presence can have an impact on all areas of sales.”

Here are five social selling best practices:

  1. Share valuable content on your feed or directly with prospects/customers
  2. Be consistent with engagements
  3. Make your own content
  4. Share customer success and personal stories
  5. Track Engagement

Video prospecting

If you’re not yet using sales videos in your prospecting, what are you waiting for? Sales videos allow prospects to immediately bond with you on a more personable level. Especially since we are currently living in a time where a majority of the business world is working remotely, human interaction in any form is craved by many.

Sales videos serve two main functions. First, it’s a value prop you can send to prospects over cold email to get a meeting. Secondly, you can share something of value on social media to reach many prospects at once. Creating videos allows you to stay in touch with current customers, show that they care during this uncertain time, and reach new prospects in a more personalized matter.

4 Video Best Practices:

  1. Optimize your setup (lighting, background, body language, etc.)
  2. Make the video personalized
  3. Keep the video short
  4. Put the key information you want to get across in the beginning of the video

Sales training continues

Did you think your sales training stopped after you were successfully onboarding? That’s not the mindset of a high-performing SDR….

Successfully SDRs continue learning and researching throughout their career. You can do this in many ways.

Here are just a few:

  • Staying active and engaging on LinkedIn
  • Keeping up with different prospecting trends or campaigns
  • Follow sales influencers or trainers
  • Listen to podcasts, read books, watch YouTube videos, etc.
  • Talking with your teammates/other sales reps


One of the most important skills every company looks for when looking at SDR candidates is coachability. The best SDRs proactively seek out coaching from high-performing peers and ask for honest feedback from their managers and teammates.


Schedule management is vital to a sales rep. Schedule management allows SDRs to organize their days and prioritize high-value activities (e.g., email outreach, cold calls, meetings, etc.). Whether you choose to-do lists or use a calendar management tool to create their schedule, maintaining a strict schedule will help SDRs complete their tasks.


Great SDRs build genuine relationships and build trust with prospects.To be a successful relationship-builder, you must be able to communicate with a wide variety of people across multiple channels. Whether you are connecting with a contact over email, presenting to a prospect in a virtual meeting, or sending them a pre-recorded video, you’ll want to clearly communicate your points and ideas that keep them engaged.

Active listening

Active listening is arguably the most essential skill for prospecting; however, not many SDRs can do this well. SDRs must be able to qualify prospects during conversations to understand if your product or service can solve one of their problems. Simply going through a qualification checklist is not enough—an SDR must hone in on the conversation to identify additional key information that you would only get from actively listening to a prospect’s phrases, words, or tone of voice. SDRs must be present and have real conversations with prospects to uncover critical information.


Emotional intelligence helps sales reps understand their prospects' objections when speaking with them and helps them better understand their pain points. SDRs must possess strong empathy and emotional intelligence to succeed.

Empathy helps SDRs understand prospects' reactions to your company's products or services, and if the product/service will be a good fit for them without forcing an unnecessary relationship. They will pick up the subtle cues that prospects are giving through either their email responses, tone of voice, or facial and body language.

On a topical note, being empathetic with prospects is critical right now. We are living through unprecedented times, and having a little compassion can go a long way.

Know when to walk away

There will come times when a prospecting endeavor comes to a dead end. The reasons may number several: the timing may not beright for their company, the prospect is already working with a competitor, or doesn’t need your product/service at the moment. No matter the reason, maintain integrity until the very end. You never know what might happen down the road, so don’t burn bridges. Keeping a relationship with these contacts may help you later. Even if nothing ever comes of that relationship, don’t risk your company's reputation just because the timing wasn’t right.

We know that prospecting is a high-energy job that encounters many setbacks on the path to a clear win. With the right mindset and tools, however, it’s possible for every SDR to succeed. To learn more about the technology that LeadIQ offers in order to help your SDRs become as high-performing as possible, please get in touch at