Whether it’s in an interview with a prospective hire or just chatting with fellow sales managers, the question of “what are the main traits your most successful reps embody?” comes up again and again. After having had ample opportunity to think about this, I’ve arrived at four core characteristics our best SDRs embody.

Characteristic #1: Organized

With hundreds, sometimes thousands, of leads in play, it’s almost too easy for a rep to become disorganized. If they forget to disposition (CRM maintenance) a lead who they set a meeting with, they may end up calling them a dozen more times and lose the opportunity. If their calendar isn’t up-to-date, they’re likely to miss meetings. The list goes on and on in terms of the potential pitfalls of lack of organization. The best SDRs know that it’s tough enough to connect with and then qualify prospects, and that a messy prospect relationship management platform or calendar is counter-intuitive. A handful of my best reps block off specific times on their calendars to organize their leads in our platform, their emails, and also their calendars. Some reps do it every morning before they start the day and every evening as they’re ending the day. Some take an hour each Sunday in order to get ahead of the week. The point is, A-player reps understand that spending an extra 1-2 hours a week to get organized will save them a ton of time (and headaches) in the future.

Characteristic #2: Focused

High-performance sales organizations often feature cultures that work hard and play hard. It takes a certain type of person to be able to get their work done in an environment like this – especially when, a lot of times, they’re just out of college. What does this mean for SDRs? This means that from your first interaction with them (the interview), you need to let them know that while they’re joining a fun workplace, the keyword is “work” and they’re there to contribute to your organization in an impactful way. The best SDRs know this and place an emphasis on doing absolutely everything in their power to not just achieve their goals, but go above them.

Characteristic #3: Resilient

Regardless of if your sales team is heavily-focused on making 100+ calls per day, sending out hundreds of emails, or doing research on contacts to then employ a hyper-personalized approach, the job of an SDR is tough. So tough, in fact, that according to TOPO, the average tenure of an SDR in a rapidly-growing organization is under 12 months. Yes, one year. This is because many organizations adopt an “up or out” mentality and reps grind as hard as they can to get promoted ASAP.

With that in mind, reps are also facing rejection upwards of 90-95% each day. On many days, it’s 100%. Think of this. How many times have one of your reps made 100 calls or sent out 100 in a day and not connected with a single person? Or, if they connected with 10 people, never set a meeting? The rejection in and of itself is emotionally draining. But, the best reps don’t take it to heart. They quickly understand that it’s part of the game and that the best thing they can do is remain positive and find new and better ways of working. The best reps get knocked down again and again, but keep going because they understand that what they’re doing isn’t easy. Hopefully, your company is as ambitious as your reps are and they see that, too.

Characteristic #4: Responsible

Have you ever heard a rep say, “But, (Head of Sales Development), we’re not getting enough leads to achieve our goals,” or “I missed my quota because it was too high, can we lower it?”

If you did, you probably already know that this isn’t a top rep. Top reps take responsibility and ownership for both their successes and their failures. They don’t blame external factors when things go wrong and they certainly don’t look to cut corners to achieve their goals. Instead, they ask for feedback. They look inwards and ask themselves what they could do better as opposed to blaming their misfortune on “luck.” They’re proactive instead of reactive and are always looking to fine-tune their own strategies, even if they’re working because they know that the success they’re experiencing in the world of today can quickly change in the world of tomorrow.

For example, one of my best reps today was once put on a performance improvement plan (PiP) a few months into starting her job with us. Instead of blaming her leads, her manager, or anything else in the world, she put a plan together to get off of the PiP and worked day in and day out to achieve her goal, which she did. A lesser rep who was averse to taking ownership would have given up from the get-go.

As I think more on the question of, “what are the main traits your most successful reps embody?” I’m slowly arriving at another conclusion: “It depends.” Some of your most successful reps may be humorous, “hard-working,” or entrepreneurial, etc. The list could go on and on. Regardless of which attributes you decide to place the most emphasis on, it’s key to identify these characteristics in reps from the initial interview, be completely transparent with them regarding what you expect of them, and work very hard to instill these traits when all is well and especially when the going gets tough.