Kevin Micalizzi: Today we will be discussing ways to be more successful as an SDR with Morgan Ingram, Sales Development Manager at Terminus. And Morgan is the host of the SDR Chronicles on YouTube, where he shares motivation and tips for SDRs.
Morgan Ingram: Hey, Kevin. How is everything going? Super excited to be here.
Micalizzi: So, Morgan, would you share a little bit about yourself?
Ingram: Yeah. So the background on me is I grew up in a normal home, normal everything, really nothing too crazy. I've been in the state of Georgia for my entire life. So I've been in Atlanta for my entire life and graduated from the University of Georgia with a double major in finance and sports management. I wanted to actually be a sports agent. They told me I had to go to law school. It wasn't happening, and that's really where my career shifted.
So a lot of people may know the Atlanta Tech Village, an innovation hub here out of Atlanta. So I knew I wanted to get into the tech scene. So I went there, off a whim, to go in the networking space and figure out what was going on.
I met an individual there named Jeb. And he told me, "Hey, look. You need to go check out this company called Terminus." And so, I checked it out. It was pretty cool. And I cold-called the Director of Sales Tony and said that, "Hey, I want to be a part of this." And came into an interview a couple days later, and then went to the initial interview, then final interview, and then got hired.
So I got hired as an SDR. I was an SDR for a year and then got promoted to sales development manager, where I've been the manager for six months. And so, it's been a pretty awesome journey to be here so far.
And you mentioned the SDR Chronicles. The SDR Chronicles spurred from just something that Ralph Barsi wrote which you guys may be familiar with him — "Overcome Obscurity" as an SDR. And one of the things he mentioned there was an SDR creating a YouTube channel. No one had done it. So I was like, "I'm going to do this." So I did it, and now I'm full steam ahead on 80 episodes as of today. So it's really been a journey, and it's been awesome.
Micalizzi: I want to dig into that a little bit more. But before we do, I'm Kevin Micalizzi, Product Marketing Senior Manager at Salesforce and Executive Producer of the Quotable podcast.
So, Morgan, one of the things I found fascinating when I was doing research for this interview was you launched the SDR Chronicles not even six months after taking on your first SDR role. What led you to share your advice and the experience through the SDR Chronicles?
Ingram: Yeah. So what really led to me sharing my advice and getting more involved was I was watching other influences. And I think who really took me to that level of "I just need to do this" was Gary Vaynerchuk. It was a SalesLoft conference, Rainmaker, back in 2016.
And he just said, "If you are willing to share advice for free — if you're willing to put yourself out there — the leverage and value that you're going to produce in the marketplace is going to make you more valuable as a person than people who may have been doing this for five, ten years." He said, "Because you're actually showing your authentic self. You're being raw with the audience. And you're giving out advice that most people would say, ‘Hey, you got to pay money for.’"
So I took that advice and just knew that if I gave out stuff for free — essentially it is — and basically share advice, that that advice could actually change lives for some people and actually get me more visibility and more exposure. It's kind of what he said.
And so, that's when it was like, "Okay. I can do this. I'm confident. I just have to be consistent." And because I decided to be consistent, obviously, it culminated in the opportunities that have now arisen from that — is because I decided, "Hey, look. This is all about giving value to the marketplace and giving something that most people aren't willing to do." And so, that's why I decided to take the turn that way.
Micalizzi: It's a great approach. You've given so much advice through the channel already. But there are a couple areas I want to tap into. What advice would you give for the SDR first starting out in the role? So they've landed the job, but they're not even sure where they need to be going or what they need to be doing.
Ingram: Yeah. And that's great. I think when a new SDR starts, I think there's things you have to consider. And I wrote a blog post on this. But I think there's three major things you have to do when you first start as an SDR.
The number one thing is that you have to ask a ton of questions. I think people, when they start new jobs, they're afraid to ask questions. And I feel like that's where you're actually going to hinder yourself, and you're not going to go be able to grow.
You have to be willing and able to talk to different people, and ask them questions, and ask them like, "How does this work? How does this operate?" — and be willing to meet people not only within your team but your leadership team and even outside your function. Because the more you understand about your solution, the more you understand about the product, the more valuable you're going to be in the long run for the company.
And SDR, at the end of the day, is really a position that allows you to hone your skills, to become something more of what you currently are. So it can translate into customer success. It can translate into leadership — something that I went into — account executive, marketing.
There's different functions that you can go to, based on an SDR role. And there's not a lot of roles that you can go into that actually outlet to multiple, different functions. So you have to do that. You have to be able to ask questions.
I think number two is that you have to be hungry to learn. That means reading after work. That means listen to a podcast before work. That's listening to certain things while you're working out. You have to understand your industry in and out.
And I correlate it as you have to understand the language of your industry. That's literally how I see it. Like, you wouldn't go to Spain and start speaking Italian. That would not make any sense.
So it's literally the same thing here. You have to understand your marketers. You have to understand your salespeople. You have to understand your IT people. Whoever you're selling to, you have to understand the language. That's number two.
And number three — the number three thing that you have to do is you have to be willing to put in the work. And I think that some people are thinking that this position is like you're going to blast out emails and you're just going to hit your number. It's not like that. You have to be willing to put in the work, prospect day in and day out, making calls, and basically ask for feedback, relate it back to number one, crafting new emails, A/B testing.
You have to be willing to put in the work as a new SDR, as in building a framework, so that you can be able to get to the level that you need to get to.
Micalizzi: I noticed when you launched the SDR Chronicles, the first topic you chose to cover was having a steady mindset. Why did you start there?
Ingram: Great question. So I chose it because I knew if you watched the first video, and you watched all the 79 other videos that are in there, but you can never keep a steady mindset, every single piece of advice, you will not be able to execute on. Because you're not going to be able to keep a steady mindset to actually execute.
So what happens with a lot of people is they're super excited about episode 23. And it talks about, maybe, how to do your outreach. And you're fired up. But if you do one time of outreach, and it doesn't work, if you don't keep a steady mindset and you get negative, now you become negative and your outreach is going to become negative.
And so, essentially, I picked that on purpose to basically say, "This first thing, this first video, is the gateway to your success." If you can't keep a steady mindset — and you get too fired up when you do really well, and then the next week, because you got too fired up, you don't prospect, you don't do the right things — you will not be successful. And if you had a really bad week, and you get low on yourself, and you feel like the doomsday is coming, and you're the worst rep in the world, you will not be successful.
So I chose that for that reason. Because it's what I had of going into an SDR role. I kept a very steady mindset, even in the first two to three months where I really wasn't that successful. I really wasn't even that good of an SDR. And, obviously, over time, I became more proficient, and I got better. But that was because I kept a steady mindset, and I never let the highs and lows affect me.
And that's why it's the first video. Because it is the standard for you to be successful in sales and, I believe, even in life.
Micalizzi: Definitely. When you talked about a steady mindset in your video, you talked about checking your associations. So kind of what you're surrounding yourself with. I'm curious, how do you approach it?
Ingram: I think you have to understand who is in your circle and who is bringing you down.
It's more so like crabs. They'll try to pull you down to their level. And, basically, they're not helping you at all or — as I like to also call people — "energy vampires." So you're super fired up, and someone is just negative all the time. And they're like, "Yeah, you can't do that. This isn't going to work. Woe is me." Do not deal with these people. Stay away from these people.
And you will notice these people as you become more positive and you start getting more results. You'll notice that someone is negative. You'll notice that someone is not being positive. You'll notice that someone is trying to come after you and mess you up. So these are things to consider.
And so, how I've always checked my association is like, "What is their positive outlook like? Are they always going to change a negative situation to a positive situation?" Those are the people you need to hang around. Are they a person to develop themselves every single day? Are they reading a book? Are they listening to a podcast? Are they watching videos? Do they carry a notebook around with them, writing down their goals? Do they have goals? These are the people you want to hang around.
And, basically, the quote is, "If you tell me the five closest friends that you have, I can tell you what your future looks like." So if you are people, I just mentioned, like that, your future is going to be bright.
But if you have people who are complaining about everything — they're blaming these on other teams, they're blaming things on their leaders, they're not personally developing, they're always griping about something, they're always trying to find an excuse — those are the people you don't want to hang around.
Because if you associate yourself with those people, your results will start to dwindle, and you will not be successful. So I say that association is so important because it's a psychological thing. And if your psyche is positive and correct, you will be successful. But if it's negative, then you will drown yourself down in a black hole. And you will find yourself not in the best of spots.
Micalizzi: You talked about setting goals and having that ability to stay focused. What advice do you give your team?
Ingram: So my thing is that you need to choose an ultimate long-term goal. And for some people, they may not have that, and that's fine. But you have to think of what is your ultimate long-term goal. And it doesn't have to be 5, 10, 15, 20 years. If you know what your goal is in 20 years, fantastic, go and say it.
But most people know that, "Hey, in a year out, this is what I want to be." So a prime example is SDR wants to be account executive. So that's your main objective: "I want to hit account executive. I'm going to do everything possible." Great. So now I'm holding you accountable because you said that's your goal to stay focused.
So, now, that's your overarching goal. Now, basically, I'm going to create branches of that. So, what do you need to do to become an account executive?
"Well, we need to shoot for you to be the top SDR for maybe two quarters straight." Or "We need to shoot for you being the top SDR in the month. You getting more exposure to events." Little goals like that that will elevate you to eventually become an account executive — like listening to calls from demo one all the way to close one, and writing notes on how that demo got closed.
It's those things that will help you keep focused. Because, now, I've given you this overarching goal. So, it's like, you're telling me you want to do this. Now, we're giving you little steps to get there. And now, you're going to be way more locked in on getting there at the end of the day.
And so, that's how I tell my reps — that's how they keep so focused — is because they have this overarching goal that is over their head. That they told me, "This is what I want to do. This is what I want to accomplish." And now, I'm holding them to that. Because, now, they're telling me, "This is exactly what I want to go after." And now, I'm like, "We need to go after this. And we're going to go here, full speed."
So that is something that I tell my reps, to keep them very accountable, to keep them focused, and to keep them locked in. And if you have goals that align with the purpose of what you're going after, every single day you're going to be focused. Because the daily actions that you're going to have to take are going to get you that goal.
Micalizzi: How do you wade through the noise and keep that long-term focus? I know you talked about making sure you set long-term goals, but what else do you do?
Ingram: Mm-hmm. Yeah. I think as an SDR, trying to create visibility, building a brand, things of that nature. I think you have to focus on, what is going to cut through the noise?
One of the things that we have found to be super successful is [Vidyard] unit. I say this all the time. Video has literally changed the game for us as a team. I think I got it back in September or October. That's when I first got the tool.
I utilized it, and I saw accounts that I've been reaching out to for five to six months had finally been like, "Okay. Now it's time for us to talk." So the video just creates a humanity aspect. It's authentic. It's personalized. And it really speaks to you as a human. Because, how many videos are you really getting sent to you personally a day? Not a lot.
So we found that it's actually way more successful to send somebody a video that is personalized. It's for them, and it correlates with the message. And it gets them excited overall. And I think that's one of the best things about "Breaking Through the Noise" video.
Now, other things that other reps have done is Twitter. They're going on Twitter, and they're quote tweeting articles that they posted, and they're engaging there. I've got people engaging just solely on Twitter, not quote tweeting, replying to stuff that they have — and getting engaged there — but not asking for the demo through Twitter, just engaging — and, maybe, setting up doing a call or an email later.
Also, personalized LinkedIn messages that get people to connect so they understand who you are. And it's actually personal. It's not just fly-by-night LinkedIn requests.
So these are the couple things that I mentioned. But, basically, you have to be unique in your approach. Because you have to consider there's thousands of other SDRs, probably reaching out to the same person that you're reaching out to. So the more unique and tailored your message is going to be — it may take a little bit more time, but that time you take to be more unique will convert, most likely, into a demo that all your other counterparts that are reaching out to that account are not getting.
And that's something that you have to consider when you're reaching out. Because that will take you to the next level in your career and the next level really in your life.
Ingram: Because when you take the time to be personalized and break through the noise, that is overwhelming and overprevailing every single day.
Micalizzi: So you actually take the time to sit down with your SDRs and write out goals. For SDRs listening, and even sales development managers, what advice do you give them? I mean, how do you approach it with your team?
Ingram: A leader standpoint is — every single new rep that starts, we ask, "What are your professional goals?" and "What are your personal goals?" Now, when you first start, your professional goals probably might not be as lengthy as someone who has been in the role for a while. But at least your personal goals should be there.
So, at the end of the day, it all even ties back to the goals. So I'm holding everyone accountable to the professional goals that they told me, from the beginning of when they started, and their personal goals. And every single quarter, I check in to see if those goals have changed. And, most likely, they do because, "Okay. Now, I understand the role. These are the metrics that I want to hit."
The goals I have for people who have been in the role for eight months and the role for two months are completely different. However, I ask them at the beginning when they start, so it's completely fresh, and they don't really know as much. So, they can at least be a little bit more receptive when we start adjusting those goals.
So, essentially, I don't really throw goals at my reps at all. I let them choose what their goals are. And, basically, my whole concept is to psychologically get my reps so fired up that their goals are more aggressive than the goals that I would give them. That's literally my sole mission as a leader.
I don't want to be the person handing you goals and then making you feel like I'm basically trying to push you there. I want you to feel like you're pushing yourself there, and I'm just the guide who is trying to guide you to the finish line.
That's literally my sole purpose, not the person who is trying to whip you into shape and get these goals that are aggressive that I want you to accomplish. I want you to accomplish them, and I want you to come to me for help on how we can accomplish those goals. So from a leader standpoint, that's how I really drive them.
From an SDR standpoint, I think if you are not getting that type of leadership or you feel like you need to create your own goals, how I did my goals or how I currently do my goals as a manager and as an SDR is I did quarterly goals.
So Q1 — this is what I want to accomplish professionally and personally. And whatever I would accomplish, I'd basically cross it out. If I did not accomplish those goals, I would move those goals into the next quarter. And if I completed it in the next quarter, I cross them out. If I do not complete that goal in the next quarter, after missing two quarters of that goal, I need to downsize that goal or change that goal and replace it.
So that's how I set goals for myself. And I found by writing out goals and visualizing them, I accomplished way more because I knew exactly what I was going for. And I wasn't just showing up to the office and, "Oh, cool. I'm here guys." There was something to it.
Micalizzi: That's fantastic. I mean, I love that — for the goal setting, you're keeping them in the driver's seat. That way there's so much more of a sense of ownership.
Micalizzi: You talked about how sometimes a goal will stretch into a second quarter. And you'll either need to downsize it or kind of revisit it.
I mean, I think failure is inherent in a lot of what we do. Nobody wins 100% of the time. Nobody closes 100% of the deals.
How do you approach failure in your own work? And how do you approach with your team?
Ingram: I think failure, I try not to see as failure. I've just blocked that out. And I asked a question on this, and I answered it: Failure to me is the building block to success.
So what you really find out is that a lot of people that are successful, they just weren't successful if they didn't know how to handle failures. There's something to it at the end of the day.
So what I found out is that every failure is a building block. When I first started out, there was a ton of stuff that I did wrong. But, now, I just tell my reps, "Hey, look. Don't do that. Because I did it and it doesn't work."
So you just learn so much, to provide so much success for people in the long term. And because of that, you realize that, wow, this is why the failures are so crucial. Because every single time I fail, I'm literally building myself toward more success. And if I'm successful, that's also a building block as well.
So, really, you can really never lose. But I think that people are so afraid of failure because of what that perception is for other people. And it makes you seem like you don't know what you're talking about.
But for my reps, I tell them, "When you don't do something right, you realize that you no longer are going to do that ever again. And you can also teach other reps not to do the same thing." So that's what my testament is for failure.
On the rep standpoint is that, "Hey, you may send the wrong email. You may send the wrong video. You may do wrong on the call." But now we're going to break that down and basically say, "Don't ever do that again." And you won't do it again because you've already failed on that.
From a leadership standpoint, there's a lot of mistakes that I might make from a leadership standpoint. And I just realize, "Hey, look. I don't need to do this again, or I can improve on that."
So failures are really just a flashlight for what you need to be doing better, and how you can improve yourself. So I never get too bogged down on failures. I just focus on what happened there and how can I improve.
Micalizzi: That's fantastic. I mean, I think it's a great attitude. So you've brought up development a few times. And I'd like to talk a little bit more about it.
Micalizzi: Before we do, though, I want to ask, "What advice would you give to someone who is considering the SDR role?"
Ingram: I think — you have to understand, this was my mindset going into SDR — if you can do the SDR role, you can essentially do anything you really want. Because I see it as, every single day, you're literally like, "Cool, I'm waking up. I'm going to the office. And I know I'm going to have rejection." That's really the SDR role.
You're literally going in the office saying, "I'm going to face rejection" — which in most roles, that's not the case. You're not going into the office like, "I'm going to face some rejection today." In the SDR role, it's guaranteed you will face rejection every single day. People are not going to be fired up that you're contacting them at all. So you really have to see it that way.
And so, when you see it that way, you realize that the SDR role is something skill set-wise. You're going to learn how to basically generate awareness and interest with a random person, out of the blue, but articulating your message at a very quick pace, which is very hard for the majority of the masses to be able to accomplish. So that's what the SDR role is going to do.
You're going to have a really in-depth knowledge of the product of whatever you're going after. So you're on the front lines every single day. So you're going to know more than most people — maybe in your own company. Because you're actually in the market and the front lines every single day. And also you're going to be mentally tough to handle whatever.
So it doesn't matter if you want to be a leader, an account executive, go-to marketing, a CEO, your mental toughness is going to be such at a high aptitude and altitude. Because you have just molded yourself to be just a straight beast because you've faced so much rejection. And you have seen success out of facing so much rejection. So those are really the things that if you want to become an SDR, you will learn these things.
Now, as I always say, this job is simple. The concept of it is simple. But it is not easy. This is a hard job because you are facing the grind. You are facing rejection. And you're facing, basically, no one really wants to talk to you. They don't even know who you are. So, understanding that concept.
But when you understand the benefits of the SDR role, I basically prompt people to be like — this should be the first job you take out of college, hands down.
Micalizzi: I love the way you look at it. There's so much you get from learning to overcome objection and resistance early in your career.
Micalizzi: There's a certain sense of strength that comes with that. So you talked a couple times about development and, especially, self-development. I'm curious, what approaches do you take to make sure you're consistently staying on top?
Ingram: I'm an anomaly when it comes to this. So I read a ton. So, I mean, last year I went really aggressive. I set out a goal to read 300 books last year. I got to 250. So the reason I did that is because I wanted to push myself to a whole new limit that I didn't think I could do it. And I read a lot.
And so, what I learned from reading a lot is that you just absorb information that basically someone has been studying for maybe 50, 60, 70 years. And you're literally just gaining their knowledge. And so I try to read a book a week. It's where I'm at right now. And I time-block it from 9 to 10. I'm just sitting down, and I'm reading.
At the end of the day, readers and learners are going to be earners, point-blank and simple. And if you look at the average CEO, they're reading 50 to 60 books a year. So my thought process is like if you want to think on a CEO level — obviously, they are knowledgeable. They know what they're doing. These people are successful.
So you need to read. If you read at least half of what they're reading, you, by default, will pick up habits that promote success. So, for me, personal development has become more of an addiction, more than like, oh, I need to do it. Because I realized that the more that I was growing personal development-wise, the more value I could bring to the people, which is probably why SDR Chronicles resonates.
Probably why [unintelligible] concept resonates, maybe, is because I'm always personally developing. So I'm always continuously listening to it, listening to it in the car, listening to it while I work out.
When I come home, for the most part, I normally watch a Gary Vaynerchuk video, which I highly recommend him. I'm listening to Tony Robbins. I'm reading Gary Vaynerchuk's books. I'm reading John C. Maxwell. I'm reading psychology books, Anthony Iannarino with the Only Sales Guide You'll Ever Need.
I'm always reading or learning something every single day. And I treat it as, if I don't get it, and if I don't read, I'm going to die. So a very tragic extreme. But I do that because it promotes me and prompts me to read more, by default.
Micalizzi: What are the top three books you'd recommend?
Ingram: So, yeah. So number one is The Law of Success. This is a 600-page book. So if you're just starting to read, it's going to intimidate you. However, this was the best book that I've ever read. It gave me all of the foundations on literally everything you really need to know, like in life. It was one of the best books I've ever read and, probably, will be until the end of time. It just gives you so much foundational knowledge. So The Law of Success by Napoleon Hill.
Number two is The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth, and this is by John C. Maxwell. It talks about the law of the mirror: look at yourself in the mirror, understand who you are; the law of expansion: expanding on your network; the law of basically individuality: understanding who you are.
It's these little things that you have to understand. But that book changed my life as well, from a different perspective, as in, I knew exactly the things I needed to work on, on a daily basis, that I now have cultivated into my life. And I teach other people about that as well.
The number three book is Relentless by Tim S. Grover. He was a personal trainer for Dwayne Wade, Kobe Bryant, and Michael Jordan. Obviously, if you don't know about basketball those are the "greats of the greats" in basketball. These people's mental toughness was insane. And he talked about mental toughness even more than they already were.
And he just talks about how you have to be mentally sharp. You need to decide and commit like, everything you already have, you already have it in you. You just need to go attack it. And so, that's awesome. And that book fired me up and made me realize there's way more mentally I can get myself sharp on.
So those are my top three books that I recommend to someone if you want to take yourself to the next level.
Micalizzi: Excellent. I mean, obviously, you know at Quotable, we've structured everything we're doing around helping salespeople be the best at what they do. So besides the Quotable podcast, what other podcasts would you recommend?
Ingram: Podcasts? I'm not as big of a podcast person, but what I've noticed is that I essentially am. Because I watch all of the stuff on YouTube, and those essentially are a podcast. So when I'm in the car, I do listen to podcasts. So that's not my number one. But I will mention a couple.
So the "School of Greatness," Lewis Howes. I've really been enjoying that. It brings different innovators and creative people that really bring some great perspectives on the world and itself. So, I highly recommend that.
Number two is "Impact Theory" by, I think, Tom Bilyeu. I think that's how you say his last name. Really great guy. "Garyvee Audio Experience." I love that every single time I need to get fired up. And I also like Tim Ferriss' podcast from time to time, when I take the time to listen to it.
But those are my four podcasts that I will really actually listen to. And then, every single podcast that I'm on — "The Salesman Podcast" — that one, I really like that one a lot. I like what Will does over there.
But those are my top five podcasts. But I watch a lot of interviews on video. Because I like seeing people's expressions and how they articulate points. That really touches me more than just the audio experience. But if I'm in the car, I can't really watch a video. So I'll listen to the audio podcasts.
Micalizzi: Are there specific video channels or specific videos you'd recommend?
Ingram: Yeah. There are. So they're all the podcasts that I've mentioned, like “The Impact Theory,” “School of Greatness,” “DailyVee,” the “#AskGaryVee Show,” Eric Thomas — even he's got some great stuff on motivational stuff.
Ingram: I watch a lot of those interviews that I'll literally even draw on to have some stuff. I'll, literally, just go and I'll find people that I admire. And I'll just watch them getting interviewed. So it's across the board. So those are a couple channels that I mentioned.
But I really take the time to search, how does this work? And then someone will be getting interviewed on it, and I'll listen to it. That's how I really find a lot of the [concepts] that I'll sit down and watch.
Micalizzi: Yeah. I'll go through and share as many as I can in the show notes.
Ingram: Yeah. Thank you.
Micalizzi: What closing thought would you like to leave folks with?
Ingram: Be consistent and speak your truths. I think the reason that people are not successful, the reason that people will not see results, the reason that people will fall out — is because they're not consistent.
And mirror that to one-hit wonders, or people who have one video that blows up and you never see them again, or one blog post and they never write again. They have one great month; they never show up as a salesperson again. You don't ever remember those people.
You remember the people that are consistent, that are always showing up to the game. And they're just putting up big numbers. And they're putting up big stats or they're closing deals every single month. And they're at the top of the dashboard every single time.
So those are the people that you always look at, and people that speak their truths, and they're not lying to you. Those are the people that stand out even more.
So, be consistent, speak your truths. Don't try to do shortcuts. Don't try to find another way to do it when you know the way to do it. And I think that that's what will get you to the next level, is when you commit to consistency instead of shortcuts.
Micalizzi: Awesome. Thank you so much for joining me today, Morgan.
Ingram: You're welcome.
Micalizzi: And, remember, the best way to stay on top of all things Quotable is by subscribing at quotable.com/subscribe.