Sales Development Representatives come in all shapes and sizes, but the best share key traits that separates them from the rest.

SDRs stand for Sales Development Representatives. The term and role came into vogue with the book Predictable Revenue.  One of the chief concepts of the book talks about role segmentation within a sales organization. The role of the SDR is a critical one – they are the front line, or the tip of the spear. Their position is different than an average sales representative – their calls determine and qualify leads, which are given to other sales reps to close those deals.

Sales Development Representatives are how an organization will fill its pipeline with highly qualified and targeted sales opportunities. The nature of their work dictates a high propensity for rejection, trial and error, and experimentation. SDRs come in all shapes and sizes. They have many different characteristics that make them unique, but share traits to match the nature of their work. The most successful SDRs all typically have the following characteristics:


The best SDRs are highly competitive, with themselves and others. Where others see failure, they see a challenge to meet and surpass. They are at the top of KPI leaderboards, and see their own personal records not as a plateau but as another hurdle to jump.  Whether it is the number of appointments set, calls made, or conversations had, a successful Sales Development Representative strives to be at the top.


Sales is tough…. it is a phrase that I continue to say throughout my whole sales career. With this in mind, cold calling is even tougher.  That is why it is key that your SDRs are tenacious and gritty. They don’t take no for an answer, shrug off rude customers, and get to the heart of whatever problems a future customer needs solved. A great SDR is the kind of person that understands what they are doing asks for a lot, and asks for more.

High Energy/Positivity

Great SDRs typically have a high energy level and are usually extremely positive people. There is an old cliché that a prospect can hear a smile over the phone. It’s true! People naturally gravitate towards positive personalities. An SDR that is able to stay positive throughout the work day, no matter what comes at them, will see for success in their career. Getting people to say yes to little things will say the big Yes when they qualify as a good lead.


A couple weeks ago I wrote a blog post on “The Power of Humor in Sales”.  Many high performing SDRs use the power of humor to differentiate themselves, disrupting their prospects pattern and lowering their guard. People take dozens of sales calls every day – calls that stand out as novel or unique leave a lasting impression. The nature of humor indicates a high degree of emotional intelligence, a trait that allows for prospects to felt heard and open up about their sales needs.


Most great SDRs will have an amazing understanding of the pains that their prospects are feeling and how their product/service can alleviate those pains. Empathy is an incredibly powerful tool, but without the proper amount of grit may be a weakness as it opens a person to negativity. Therefore, understanding must be coupled with grit – having good boundaries is crucial to maintaining positive energy. An SDR who can put themselves in the shoes of a customer, ask good questions and find a customer’s pain point is bound to qualify great leads.

Good Listeners

It is crucial that your SDR is a good listener and that they ask great questions.  Not only will active listening provide credibility for the company, but it is key they take great notes so that when the sales appointment holds the sales rep that will be running the meeting is well prepared. With the right amount of product knowledge and the ability to draw this information out of a customer, a great SDR will know what to listen for and how to ask the questions to get this knowledge.

Having a solid Sales Development Representative team with as many of the above attributes as possible is key to having a consistent and predictable pipeline. While excellence is not necessarily determined by an SDR not having one or two of these traits, a great SDR’s personality will be drawn towards continuous improvement, and working to meet all of these traits.

Happy Selling!