Industry Conversations with Tom O’Connor, SDR at Sales Confidence

In the latest in a new series of articles, we sat down with Tom O’Connor, SDR at Sales Confidence, to find out what makes him tick.

Tom O’Connor has been an SDR at Sales Confidence since January 2020, having previously spent time in the Marketing team. We wanted to get to know him better, so we sat down with Tom to get his thoughts on sales, mindset and much more besides. Enjoy.

Sales Confidence – Hey Tom. We all know that working in sales isn’t easy. What do you do to keep a successful mindset when there are so many obstacles in your way?

Tom - It can be very easy to become demotivated by the many hurdles you face. For me, I always engage myself with positive self-talk. even when things aren’t going your way, you need to be able to take the positives out of the situation and be happy to make mistakes, as this is the fastest way you can learn. When faced with hurdles, it’s important to use the people and tools you have around you.

SC – Facing challenges and rejection is part and parcel of being an SDR. Give us your top tips for building resilience.

You need to have the mindset of not taking rejection personally. The majority of the time you are speaking with a prospect on the phone, you are most likely never going to see them. Rejection happens all the time; you should be prepared and expect it on every call. You should see rejection as a step closer to winning a deal. Rejection is all part of the process ; you should embrace it and build into your process.

SC – Sales is all about adapting, learning, developing and improving, right? What are the common mistakes and pitfalls SDRs fall into?

One of the common mistakes a new SDR falls into is not being able to create parity on the call. You should practice your tone, language and pace. 

Another common mistake is that SDR’s aren’t authentic on calls. Being authentic builds trust quicker than any sales technique.

Finally, not enough SDRs build structure into their days. You need to build in blocks of time where you are focused on hyper-activity. It’s easy to become a ‘busy fool’. Every activity you do throughout your day should move the needle in some way.

SC – What would you advise someone who is looking to get into sales but doesn’t know where to start?

Personally, I believe that you should look to join a startup company. This is the best way to learn, as your resources and tools can be limited. A lot of sales working for big companies complain when their tools aren’t working. Working for a startup builds discipline which is essential for sales success. 

Attending events and building your network on LinkedIn is a great way of finding opportunities. You should start having conversations with people at the companies you’re interested in joining to find out more information.

SC - If you’re going to make a living out of selling something, you’ve got to know it inside out, right? How did you build your knowledge bank of the industry?

You should make a list of all the competitors in your industry and get a general idea of what they sell and how their services differ. Then, you should follow them on LinkedIn, connect with their employees, absorb their content and subscribe to their email lists. You should also follow influencers in the space as well as news articles and blog posts.

SC - What are your top three resources you use to keep ahead of the game? – books, websites, blogs, magazines, podcasts etc.

I follow a lot of influencers in the B2B sales space on LinkedIn. This way, you’re learning from the best, with years of experience. Also, I listen to podcasts from influencers such as Gary Vee, when driving or on the train into and home from work. Finally, I read at least one personal development book each month.

SC - Sales reps often get a bad reputation when it comes to what they do and how they do it. How much do you think an SDR role is about pushing the limits when selling to prospects?

Ultimately, you’re never pushing the limit. If you believe you have a great product, that you think will genuinely be of value to a prospect, then you can never push the limit. If you don’t believe in your product you sell, you’re selling the wrong product.

SC - Confidence is such a subjective term and can mean something different to lots of people. What does confidence mean to you and what do you do to nurture it?

Confidence to me means that you believe in yourself and you have a positive mindset - you're certain of a desired outcome. I nurture this by positive self-talk and belief. Every situation I go into, I think positively. It increases your chances of getting the desired outcome and makes the process more enjoyable.

SC - Salespeople have to multitask – from prioritising, delegating, managing their time and checking things off. Run us through how you structure and tackle your typical day at work!

I arrive at the office at 7:30 am (if public transport doesn’t delay me!) each morning. This is 30 mins before I’m expected to be in. For me it’s a mindset thing - I feel like I'm getting ahead of the game. I spend that first 30 mins getting my brain in gear and preparing for my day ahead. From 8-10:30 is the first block of hyper-activity for me. This consists of mass outreach via phone, email and LinkedIn. From 10:30-12:30, I usually spend time prospecting on LinkedIn before my lunch. 

From lunch – 2, I do more prospecting and will try to get some content out on LinkedIn. 2-4 pm is the second block of hyper-activity. 4-5, I spend following up and adding prospects into Salesforce.

Over to you

Thanks to Tom for sitting down with us. Now you know how Tom O’Connor does it, we want to know about you. Leave us a comment to let us know what you think about any of the points he raised.

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