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About This Episode
Ernest didn’t expect there to be quite that much overlap between what he learned in the NFL and his new career as an SDR.
(Hint: Very hard work is a big one.)
“Once I finished playing, I immediately jumped into the SDR role and I grinded, worked really hard, perfected my craft, trusted my process,” Ernest said.
Let’s dive into his insights into 3 attributes of SDRs who have what it takes to excel.
It’s the process, not the goal
Everyone wants to be a top performer in sales. Nobody shows up as an SDR hoping to do a mediocre job.
It would have been easy to get intimidated as a college freshman thinking about his dreams to be on the Minnesota Vikings. Instead, Ernest threw himself into perfecting his craft.
He focused on honing specific skills, not about playing in front of 100,000 people and signing autographs.
Out of the season’s ten 60-minute games, Ernest might play for 15-20 minutes each. But he spent about 8 hours a day for most of the year just… practicing.
“I wasn’t really focused on the amount of time and work I was doing. I’m here to get better, and that’s the goal,” he said.
Honestly, he wasn’t driven by the goal. He was driven by what he could do daily to make himself better.
As a sales professional, it’s the same. Base your wins upon your improvement, not necessarily the byproduct of stats.
Hungry to learn & improve
As an SDR as well as a leader of SDRs, Ernest said that he stays constantly self-aware of his strengths and weaknesses.
From a coaching standpoint, he encourages his team members to figure out their strengths and aim to get better at those.
He calls it a commitment to growth mindset.
Example: I know I’m really good at calls. Every single time I call, I’m going to be looking out for this one thing so that I can nail it. I’m going to prioritize that focused skill and spend time every week learning how to get even better at it.
As a sales leader, he says to schedule time for self-improvement, whether that’s listening to sales leadership podcasts or another educational discipline.
Because, look, there’s no one to say that you can only get this good and then you have to stop.
Whether you’re blowing your number out or not, don’t ever get comfortable. Make a commitment to your own success.
PS: Self-improvement can be creative. Ernest used martial arts to improve his football as well as his sales.
In a sense, the leap from football player to SDR was a complete reinvention. Ernest views life as a series of seasons, many of which mean doing something completely new.
“One of my first cold calls, I had a CMO just like send me to hell and back. Geez, crazy. I’ve never had that happen. So there were definitely some humbling moments,” he said.
One chapter ends when you are exceptional, another starts with you knowing nothing.
He tells new SDRs to have strong self-awareness about the particular skills that meant success in your previous roles — and look for opportunities to apply those in sales.
He’s known former lawyers who make great SDRs because of their research skills and former athletes who make great SDRs because of their persistence.
“Know what that skill set is and look for opportunities to apply it to your career,” he said.
Ernest’s 3 takeaways
- Learn your strengths for how you’re going to win.
- Become exceptional at your strengths.
- Apply that mastery to your sales process so that you can achieve repeat successes.
Connect with Ernest on LinkedIn.