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9 Skills Every Sales Development Rep (SDR) Needs to Succeed

A sales development representative (SDR) is responsible for prospecting and qualifying leads. Hone your SDR sales stills to land more deals.

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You can’t oversell the value of a great sales team. Like your marketing and operations departments, your sales team is at the foundation of your organization’s success, turning up the flow of potential customers to your business.

And, they close the deals. That is, if they have the right skills needed to prospect, attract, and nurture your ideal customers.

This is where Sales Development Representatives (SDRs) come in. But great SDRs aren’t born – they’re made!

That’s why we’re sharing the top 10 skills every SDR needs to succeed in business, and how to develop these skills to become a prospecting machine. 

SDR Sales

SDR stands for Sales Development Representative. A Sales Development Representative is someone who does prospecting, lead nurturance, and lead qualification as part of a sales team. They are responsible for determining whether a new lead would be a good customer fit for the business.

What does a Sales Development Representative do?

Sales Development Representatives are often the workhorses of your sales team. They research, identify, and qualify potential customers, attracting the people or businesses most likely to buy your services. 

However, there are a lot of different things SDRs can do to help fill your sales pipeline.


SDRs can use a variety of methods – such as social media, email, phone outreach, directories, and more – to identify and connect with potential customers. These prospecting activities are essential to attracting the right types of prospects for your closers. 

Specifically, SDRs try to find people or businesses who may be interested in your company’s products are services. These are prospects that fit a particular profile (income, demographic, industry, etc.) as defined by your lead qualification process. 

Once an SDR has identified a strong prospect, they will usually then initiate contact and introduce your company’s offerings. They don’t necessarily close the deals, but get the prospects “warm” to hand off to your sales team. 


Once a lead is in the pipeline, the SDR will conduct qualifying calls to see if they fit the profile of a potential customer. This may include asking questions about the prospect’s needs, pain points, goals, and budget. If they seem like a good fit, the lead is then handed off to Sales to continue the process.

Appointment Setting

If a prospect expresses interest in continuing the conversation, the SDR may schedule the meeting or appointment directly with the sales representative. Appointment setting requires coordinating schedules, confirming the prospect’s availability, and providing information to support the sales representative.


SDRs form relationships with prospects to get a sense of their needs, concerns, and goals. This is communicated to the sales team to support the selling process and ensure customers get the value they are searching for. They help nurture the prospect, follow up on the sales conversation, and provide more information about the company’s services or products. 

Data Management

SDRs work closely with the sales team and often communicate via sales tools and lead management software. They follow up to lead interactions, track lead status, and qualify leads within the company’s chosen Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. The data provided by CRM tools can help improve close rate, response time, lead nurturance, and more. 

SDR Sales Skills

  1. Prospecting
  2. CRM technology proficiency
  3. Active listening
  4. Objection-handling
  5. Coachability
  6. Time management
  7. Channel & pipeline management
  8. Creative problem-solving
  9. Persistence & resilience

1. Prospecting

As stated previously, prospecting is one of the most important responsibilities of an SDR. Thus, any successful SDR should be equipped to use a variety of channels, tools, and strategies to prospect potential customers.

Most of the most common forms of prospecting include:

  • Cold calling – contacting potential customers over the phone
  • Social media prospecting – connecting with potential customers on social media platforms like Meta, LinkedIn, Twitter, or Linkedin
  • Email prospecting – sending targeted emails to prospective customers
  • Referral outreach – networking to build professional connections to generate referral business
  • Content marketing – creating, publishing, and sharing content to attract customers across a variety of platforms
  • Networking – attending events, conferences, and even online webinars to connect with potential customers

A great SDR should be well-versed in these common channels and have experience using creative tactics to reach your company’s ideal audience. 

Some of the activities a skilled SDR will need to do during prospecting include:

  • Identifying potential prospects that fit the company’s ideal target audience
  • Conducting audience research to learn more about potential buyers
  • Reaching out to prospects through a variety of channels
  • Assess new leads based on the company’s qualifying criteria
  • Schedule meetings with qualified prospects
  • Add and update lead information within the CRM tool
  • Set appointments between prospects and sales reps
  • Measure prospecting success and improve their skill over time

2. CRM technology proficiency

While much of the prospecting process may sound manual, the majority of SDRs use sales tools, CRM software, and other types of sales technology. Given today’s fast-paced, digital landscape, CRM tech proficiency has become an essential skill for SDRs.

The most popular CRM tools include Salesforce, Zoho, Hubspot, Pipedrive, and Zendesk, but many more are available. Most successful SDRs are proficient in several CRM tools, or at least understand the essential CRM tech use cases. 

There are other types of tools that SDRs should know how to use. These might include:

  • Email automation software – to create email campaigns, track open rates, and follow up with prospective customers
  • Social media engagement tools – to monitor social media content performance and engagement
  • Social listening tools – to monitor brand mentions, trending topics, and customer posts on social media
  • Lead generation tools – to generate fresh leads via website marketing, social media, paid marketing, and more
  • Analytics tools – to monitor campaign performance, determine customer engagement rate, manage the lead pipeline, and better nurture new leads
  • Website management tools – to view website traffic, engagement, and conversions

3. Active listening

Selling isn’t just about telling customers what they need; it’s about listening to what they need and then positioning your product or service as a valuable solution.

Many sales professionals get this backward, but a great SDR will listen to the prospect first, and sell second. This involves asking more questions than answers, listening to the customer share their struggles and goals, and acknowledging that you understand what the prospect is looking for.

Every great SDR works to practice their active listening skills. This will certainly improve your lead nurturing and selling capabilities, as you’ll have a better sense of what the customer wants and what makes your offer fit the brief. 

4. Objection-handling

Many prospects will express doubts, concerns, and objections about your offer. From “It’s too expensive” to “It’s just not the right time for us to “My friend can do it cheaper”, fielding objectives is all part of the job as an SDR.

But a good SDR will hear those objections and be able to articulate a response that not only puts the prospect’s mind at ease but also highlights how the offer can help them overcome their most pressing challenges.

To do this, it’s critical to practice active listening and to know the product/service from the inside out. The better you know what you are selling, the better you can connect a prospect’s objective to a particular benefit, feature, or selling point that will counteract their concerns.

5. Coachability

Even if an SDR is a master at prospecting, nurturing leads, setting appointments, and the like, they still need to be coachable. Every organization, offer, and audience will be different; what works best for one company may not work the same for another.

A great SDR will be coachable by the rest of their sales team, management team, and coworkers. They should be open to learning new tools, strategies, and techniques. That way, they don’t get stuck in the status quo and instead, become open to creative ways to improve their skills. 

6. Time management

Like most sales jobs, SDR roles require amazing time management skills. This is because there are multiple activities, follow-ups, tasks, and deadlines to hit within a given day, and that requires impeccable prioritization.

SDRs need time management skills in order to determine what needs to get done, how it needs to get done, and when it needs to get done. They need to organize a variety of tasks and checkpoints, like scheduling lead follow-ups, setting appointments, sending prospects product materials, attending team meetings, and more. 

Fortunately, time management tools like and exist to make organizing tasks much easier. But most great SDRs have these organizational skills inherently, keeping them on top of the ball. 

7. Channel & pipeline management

Channel management involves identifying and managing the various sales channels through which an SDR connects with potential customers. These might include email, direct mail, telephone, social media, and others. All require close oversight to ensure no prospects are missed or neglected during the sales process.

Similarly, pipeline management involves oversight over the entire pipeline – from new lead to lead nurturance to close – to further ensure that every prospect is given the attention they deserve. A skilled SDR needs excellent channel and pipeline management skills in order to help the sales team receive and close the most qualified opportunities. 

These skills take time and also require experience with various CRM and sales management tools. Overall, channel and pipeline management ensure that the most promising opportunities are prioritized and prioritized so that the company can land more customers.

8. Creative problem-solving

Even with all the amazing tools out there, sometimes nothing trumps good ol’ creative thinking. SDRs must be able to think on their feet (e.g. during objection handling) and practice creative problem-solving when complex scenarios arise.

For example, Imagine you’re an SDR for a software company that provides project management software. During a sales conversation, you uncover a challenge they are facing: they have multiple teams working on different projects and it’s difficult to track progress across multiple teams. 

You might need to think of a customized solution, incorporating multiple features and tools, that goes beyond your usual out-of-the-box offer.

9. Persistence & resilience

SDRs need to be persistent, resilient, and consistent. Persistent in following up with prospects who are interested in your business. Resilient, when it comes to handling pushback or getting rejected. And consistent, when it comes to your offer, attitude, and relationship building.

While these may be considered “soft” skills, they are just as important as the hard-selling or tech skills. Ultimately, customers want to connect with a real human who is going to show initiative, work to understand their needs, and handle objections with tact and professionalism.

Step Up Your SDR Skills (or Hire the Best!)

Whether you’re an SDR yourself or are looking to hire one, hopefully this guide has helped you identify the essential skills needed to excel in an SDR role. All of these skills are critical when it comes to the organization, effectiveness, and efficiency of a successful sales team.

At Superhuman Prospecting, we serve as an outsourced partner that provides lead generation, prospecting, appointment setting, and more. These services can work as a complement to your existing SDR team or even in replace of your current sales activities. So, if you are looking for a great SDR alternative, check out our services today.

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