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3 Essential Qualities Every Ambitious SDR Should Have [Interview with Morgan J. Ingram]

Forster Perelsztejn author on Overloop the sales engagement, cold email, and LinkedIn automation software blog
Forster Perelsztejn Dec 12, 201710 min read

This week's guest is man who's moving FAST! Much like Rex Biberston, he's a hungry millennial eager to show others how it's done while constantly learning. Today, we're going to be talking about SDR's, why they matter and how to be a great one!

Check out Morgan's Youtube channels!

Morgan J. Ingram - Book reviews and motivation

The SDR Chronicles - Practical advice on how to be a great SDR

Hey Morgan, thanks for doing this, I appreciate it! Could you start by introducing yourself to our readers?

My name’s Morgan J. Ingram. I previously was at Terminus as the SDR Manager, where I managed a team of 13 reps. At the moment, I'm working with John Barrows as the Director of Execution Evolution, where I am teaching and training sales development reps to become rockstars with new prospecting techniques and ways for them to get attention and generate pipeline for the business.

I see that you are a relentless advocate of the importance of SDRs, so how do you define an SDR? What is it to you?

SDR is sales development rep. Some other acronyms are ADR, LDR, BDR. There’s a ton of them out there, but essentially the role is the same. The role is reaching out to net new accounts and generating those opportunities into the pipeline, where you pass them off to an account executive or a closer role.

All right, and what qualities do you need to be a great SDR?

I would say there’s three main things for a good, quality SDR. I’d say number one is just be relentless. A lot of people are going to reject you. A lot of people are going to knock you down, but if you have a tough mindset, then you’ll be able to push through and get those results. I think number two is the ability to listen. I feel like, when I first started as an SDR, I didn’t really listen as much as I should have, and I think the more that you listen to the prospect, the more you can provide value on top of that. Number three is you have to be willing to take criticism, and I feel like a lot of people, a lot of SDRs are younger, millennial, my age, and a lot of us don’t like to take criticism, but you need to take that criticism in order to become better at your role and get you to that next promotion that you want.

I read that you said that every salesperson should start, or everyone should start with an SDR job. Why is that?

I think every single person should start as a sales development rep for the sole reason that it provides you with the mental stability to move forward in any situation. If you get a cold call, and you get completely rejected, look, now you can face that rejection, and you can move forward. If you get an email that’s bad, you can move forward. It creates such a mental fortitude that most jobs won’t be able to give you, and that way, whatever role that you move into, you can mentally face through it. Now, it’s just like, can we layer on the skills on top of that?

All right. I see that you rose through the ranks pretty quickly, so I guess my next question is, how do you go from zero to where you are now, working with John Barrows and everything? What did it take?

It’s no secret. It’s just a lot of work. That’s really what it is. At the end of the day, I spend a lot of time just doing stuff before work, after work, and during the weekends, and most people just aren’t willing to do that, because they have other things that are going on. My priorities were, hey, look, I’m going to come into this industry, and I’m going to work as hard as I can and get myself ahead in it. Yeah, there’s some things with social, utilizing and leveraging that, connecting with the right people, but it ultimately comes down to, are you willing to put in the work with the ambition that you’re talking about? Some people are like, hey, I want to make six figures, and I want to get this car, but if your actions are mapping to that, then what are you really saying to yourself? I know, for me, I just put in a lot of work as soon as I got into my role, and I was heads down, and I feel like that’s the secret. You have to be heads down, and you have to be willing to work hard.

All right, and what do you do outside of doing the work? Do you read a lot? Do you have things outside to develop yourself that make you better at your job?

Yeah! Last year, I read 270 books, so I’m just really committed to learning more and more every single day. I’m just such a curious person. I want to learn about everything possible, so I will go out of my way to go absorb as much material as I can, because I know it’s going to benefit me in the long run. The more of the stuff that you know, the more you can relate to people, and it’s not just to be a know-it-all. It’s just, you’re going to be more resourceful, and you’re going to be able to pick up things at a quicker pace. Those are things that I do. I’ve gone to conferences. I try to listen to free webinars as much as possible. If someone that I know that’s a great resource like Gary Vaynerchuk comes into town, I’ll go check him out. I always try to stay on top of what’s going on, because if you can stay on top of the curve and understand what you’re doing, then you’re going to put yourself in a good spot.

Let’s get into training a little bit. What’s your biggest challenge as a sales trainer? When you face new recruits and everything, what’s the main thing you have to deal with?

Yeah, this question I’m not able to answer 100% right now, because I just started my new roles. I haven’t ran into that many challenges, because I haven’t done a full day of training yet. I’m still ramping, but I would just say, from observing, I think it’s just keeping people’s attention while being high-energy and also giving practical information. I feel like that’s very hard to do, to keep an audience captivated. The number one fear is public speaking overall. I think it’s because people are afraid to be the center of attention and not keep people captivated.

What do you think about the future of reps. Because lots of people have different opinions. A few days ago, I talked with Phill Keene, who is VP of Sales at Costello. He said that SDRs won’t be around for much longer, and we need to focus on the notion of sales professional instead. What’s your take on that?

SDRs will still be here. I don’t see them going away. I feel like, if you’re a sales professional – I feel like that will diminish, and the only reason I say that is because there’s just technology that’s coming out right now that can completely just wipe people out if you’re average. It’s just the way that it is. It’s always happened. When technology comes out, people go away. It’s like the self-service cash register. It’s all these things that come into play, so the reason I say all these things is because, at the end of the day, you just have to continuously be advancing yourself. I see the SDR position becoming more specialized, where the people in that position are actually going to be more proficient at their job, but if you’re just churning and sending out templates, then you will not be around much longer. If you’re going through demos, and you’re just saying the same thing over and over again, you won’t be around much longer, and I feel like that’s where people will start to diminish.

I see that you wrote a few times about the importance of scheduling your day and your work. How important do you believe that is?

It’s super important. If you don’t know what you’re doing, then you’re going to be lost, right? I think it’s super important at the end of the day that you have to be able to organize yourself to get organized results. A lot of people show up to work, and they’re like, I’m going to do what I need to do, and then they completely are oblivious to what they actually should be doing in the long run. That’s kind of what I’m saying. I know that, when I organize my schedule, and I know exactly what I need to do, I’m not lost, and I’m able to execute at a higher pace because of that.

In your video, you talked about how people have various outreach methods. Do you believe that every salesperson has to kind of develop their own style?

Yeah, at the end of the day, there’s four types of outreach. There’s video, email, phone call, and social, right? Out of those four, you’re probably going to be really good at one of those, and then that’s your nucleus. All of your activities need to go into the core of what that metric is, so if you’re good at phone calls, your emails need to – and your videos and your social need to cultivate into that. I think that everyone needs to diversify on what their actual personality is, but my approach is going to be completely different than someone else’s approach. I think it’s one of those things where you have to kind of find your groove, and once you find that groove, then you’re going to be able to perform.

You’re big on offering value. You film videos, you write articles, you’re talking to me right now. How important is it for salespeople to hop on that train and do that and start giving instead of just selling?

It’s super important, but then again, it goes back to the moving fast. It’s a lot of work and it’s your time. You’re not going to see a short-term benefit from it, and I feel like that’s just the thing. Most people are looking for the short-term. I understand long-term. I know what it means, so that’s why I do certain things that don’t make sense now. They’ll make sense later. I think that, if you take the time to obviously build a brand, it’s going to help you – or reputation, it’s going to help you, because people are going to be more comfortable talking to you, so your sales cycles will be a lot more easygoing than always like I don’t know who this person is. I encourage people to go build a brand, do the thing, but I just know it’s not for everyone, because not everyone’s going to want to take the time to do it.

Makes sense! What tools do you recommend? What tools do you use, or if you don’t use them as a trainer, what tools would you recommend in sales?

Yeah, tools I recommend from a sales development/sales perspective. I use SalesLoft. Another tool I use is Clearbit. That’s where you find the email addresses. ZoomInfo, same thing, email addresses and direct dials. I also use Vidyard. I mentioned that. The GoVideo tool for video outreach, and I also really like Owler as well, because it gives you a comparison of different companies you’ve gone after. It gives you portfolios, investments, and I also use Crunchbase as well. Those are tools that I use to make sure that I’ve done my research, and I’m reaching out proficiently.

Okay. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received, if you could pick one?

The best piece of advice that I’ve ever received is: "Don’t ever think that you'll arrive, because you never will." I’d say that’s the best advice I’ve ever gotten.

All right, so things seem to be moving pretty fast for you. Do you have anything coming up we should be on the look-out for?

The biggest thing for me right now is YouTube channel, doing book reviews on all the books that I’ve read, so trying to give people insights. If you don’t want to read, it’s a good channel to hop on, and then just the journey that I’m on with John. It’s a complete new adventure. I’m still learning, still ramping, so when it comes to Q1, things will start moving fast as we plan out the Q4.

All right, well, I guess that’s all I wanted to ask. Thank you so much for doing this!

You’re welcome.