Episode TwoHundredSeventySeven

Remote Leadership Strategies for BDR Managers

Guests: Emily Glasser and Tori Smith, BDR Managers at Salsify

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About This Episode

What if your first day as a BDR manager were also your company’s first day working from home during the pandemic? How would you lead?

Well, that scenario actually happened to two BDR managers at Salsify, Emily Glasser and Tori Smith. We recently chatted with them about their best insights for remote leadership.

Let’s dive right in!

The road to BDR manager

Tori was in recruiting before she joined Salsify in tech sales. Emily came from a graphic design and hotel sales background before joining Salsify.

Each of them was in an SDR role for about a year to a year and a half before getting promoted… right at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Something that I love about salsify is within the BDR role, there’s actually room for promotion just within that year to year and a half,” Emily said. They include ramping BDR, normal BDR, senior BDR, and lead BDR. “It’s really great to keep our teams engaged,” she added.

Back to March 2020, the newest BDR managers were on a call during the first day of working from home wondering what to do, what to say, how to call people, and what their messaging was. Leadership was honest: no one knows for sure yet, but we’re all going to figure this out together.

“You had to get the buy-in and the energy of the team to have everyone on board to experiment,” Emily said. “We all had to become newbies all at once and figure it out together.”

Tori commented on the strangeness of that transition: “We were all of these individuals, peers, until that time, and then all of a sudden we were all working remotely together — and managing them too.”

Motivating a remote team

Tori applauded her team for how well they learned and transitioned together. It took a blend of personal and professional activities to keep everyone engaged during what was an extended hiring and growth freeze.

Personal activities

  • Building gingerbread houses over Zoom
  • Playing Cards Against Humanity online
  • Happy hour hangouts
  • Days-off prizes for competitions

Professional activities

  • Career growth and training
  • Sharing in a group why each person originally joined Salsify
  • Walking one-on-ones

“Every single Salsify employee’s in this together, and we have to remember the end results,” Tori said.

Both BDR managers view working during the pandemic as a time of both struggle and development for their teams as they learned to depend on each other and collaborate in brand new ways.

Remote onboarding

In December 2020, about 10 people were promoted out of senior seats into various roles across the company, and 14 new people were hired in the next four months.

“As a lead BDR, I had the opportunity to onboard a lot of different BDRs inside of the office,” Emily said. Onboarding at that time was very peer driven as new hires genuinely sat beside experienced BDRs for about a month to learn what they knew.

That isn’t possible when working from home. New hires still have their training with enablement and classes, but managers have had to be much more hands on.

From a BDR manager view, onboarding for the first month resembles a nine to five job to ensure that the new hires know what to do day to day.

They’ve also leveraged 30-60-90 plans to help new hires understand the trajectory of their first months at work.

One positive outcome for being so hands-on? Really getting to know your team.

People management & mental health

Tori named some methods for protecting mental health while enduring the struggle of working from home.

  • Enforcing vacation days so that work is not constant
  • Companywide “unplugged” days — everyone takes a day off
  • Checking in with fellow managers about team dynamics
  • Being supportive of mental health days
  • Encouraging team members to go outside or take longer lunches

Tori reported on the success of walking one-on-ones. “Get outside, and we’ll have this conversation over the phone,” she said. “My creativity level just skyrocketed, and my team says the same thing.”

For Emily and Tori, their relationship has been one of encouragement and growth. They’ve kept each other from overworking and leveraged each other as check-ins.

Leadership tips

Tori and Emily recommend Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek. It’s about decreasing pressure and creating a circle of safety instead — a supportive environment to increase the team’s performance.

Trust, rather than anxiety, is what makes them want to achieve.

Leaders can do this in part by remembering how difficult of a position that BDR is. For some of their team who were struggling towards the end of the month, Emily and Tori helped them cold call some of their accounts. “By doing that, it just shows we’re a team and we’re collectively working for the same thing,” Tori said.

“It’s been working really well, getting in the seat with them, showing them that it’s okay to mess up,” Emily agreed. “We’re all here to learn together, and no one actually has the answer to everything.”

That supportive environment of learning, growth, and empathy is established by leaders like Emily and Tori.

About The Podcast

The Sales Engagement podcast is the #1 podcast focused on engaging your customers and prospects in the modern sales era. This show features real-life stories and best practices from revenue leaders doing the job day in and day out, in a casual, radio-like talk show.

Each episode features modern tactics, strategies, hacks, and tips to get the most out of your sales engagement strategy and help you navigate the next generation of sales. You’ll find energetic talks that will provide you with real actionable value around building meaningful connections and creating a better selling experience through authentic conversations that you can measure.

The Sales Engagement podcast is here to help B2B sales leaders, customer success leaders, and marketing leaders innovate and usher in the next era of modern sales by building pipeline, up-selling customers, and ultimately generating more revenue with more efficiency.

Hosted by Joe Vignolo, Senior Content Managing Editor at Outreach, and Mark Kosoglow, Vice President of Sales at Outreach.

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