The Importance of the SDR with Emanuel Carpenter

About This Episode

Emanuel Carpenter has spent much of his sales life in Sales and Business Development, either as a rep or as the head of the SDR team. With his most recent book, “Now That’s How You Lead an SDR Team” Emanuel has gone on to share his keys to success as an SDR, and a leader of the SDR teams.

Emanuel sits down with Brad for the first part of his two-part interview for Decision Point. As he imparts the importance of an SDR and the need to have them be able to develop their own path in the role.

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The Importance of the SDR with Emanuel Carpenter

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Emanuel Carpenter has spent much of his sales life in Sales and Business Development, either as a rep or as the head of the SDR team. With his most recent book, “Now That’s How You Lead an SDR Team” Emanuel has gone on to share his keys to success as an SDR, and a leader of the SDR teams.

Emanuel sits down with Brad for the first part of his two-part interview for Decision Point. As he imparts the importance of an SDR and the need to have them be able to develop their own path in the role.

Emanuel Carpenter

[00:00:00] Brad Seaman: So I’ll just go ahead and step aside and let you tell us kind of how you got to where you’re at today.

[00:00:06] Emanuel Carpenter: So my name is Emmanuel carpenter. Uh, I’ve been in business development for over 17 years now. I would say that my career really started, in the air. I joined the air force after getting kicked out of Michigan state university for about a year.

And all I did was party and drank and, and didn’t go to class at all, doing talent shows and things like that. A year later, I find myself in the basement, uh, on my mom’s couch and working for in retail for a couple of years, I decided, no, this is not what I wanted to do with. So I joined the air force. I spent five years in the air force, took advantage of the GI bill for education and buying a home and all those things got great work experience.

And then I dealt into customer service for a little while I was working for as a buyer and office max for a while. But as I was working those day jobs, I was going to school the night and weekend. And I finally got my degree in marketing management, and that’s what I made that transition into sales. I started selling orthopedic shoes, at four to a health care facilities.

And then someone reached out to me about business development telling me that. I can make way more money just prospecting on behalf of brands like Amazon and Salesforce, and not have to worry about closing deals. And so I joined an outsource business development firm and I was hooked. I was like, this is great.

I don’t have to worry about closing deals or a number of my head. And I stayed with that for 13 years. I was a BDR outbound BDR for 13 years at various organizations. And then I made the leap into leadership. And so I’ve been in the leadership for about five. Managing either BDRs directly or managing the managers of the BDR teams.

Now, are

[00:01:52] Brad Seaman: you in, where are you? Where do you live?

[00:01:54] Emanuel Carpenter: So I live in greater Atlanta, Georgia,

[00:01:56] Brad Seaman: and it’s okay. Yeah. How’d you get how’d you get, cause it looks like how’d you get from Ohio to Atlanta is a frontline.

[00:02:02] Emanuel Carpenter: Oh yeah, absolutely. It sure was. Yeah. So frontline made me an offer and I decided to take that offer and make the move from Ohio to, to Alpharetta.

Yeah. And I’ve been here ever since.

[00:02:13] Brad Seaman: Okay. Awesome. Awesome. Yeah, no, I was, as I was going through the LinkedIn profile and like you said, there’s a, obviously a big change, right. Ohio, Ohio, Ohio, and then bam. You show up on the map and in Atlanta or greater Atlanta, right? You’re right. Awesome. Well, well, the, the, you know, it appears that the business development career has been really good to you.

And you really figured out, you know, craft that you sort of found a strong niche in the space for yourself. So tell me a little bit about like, you know, why, why, why the front end of the sales cycle, why not the full cause that’s kind of your claim to fame right there. The top, the top of the.

[00:02:51] Emanuel Carpenter: Yeah, absolutely.

So I just found that I was really good at doing a research, finding those people and creating interest within those organizations to have conversations. I delve a little bit into closing deals as I was working for tech firms. And it just wasn’t for me. I just, I didn’t have that. It’s a different

[00:03:10] Brad Seaman: personality type.

Like, like, is it a different person?

[00:03:14] Emanuel Carpenter: Yeah, I think so. Yeah. I think, I mean, you, you just have to be on all the time. You have to be resilient. You have to show that grit as a, as an outbound BDR, where, and, and sales, when you’re actually closing deals, you have to be a better negotiator, uh, you know, making sure that you fully understand the entire cycle.

You’re working with various teams like legal and finance internally. And then you’re talking to multiple stakeholders on the external side. And this is a lot different than being a BDR or managing a BDR team.

[00:03:44] Brad Seaman: So one of the things I want to talk about is making the tr at some point, you’re making the transition from being a business development rep to managing business development reps.

And when you think about the role, do you think about it as sales development, or do you think about business development or do you think about it as entertainment?

[00:04:03] Emanuel Carpenter: And business development tend to be interchangeable. A lot of people use those titles, at the same, um, essentially it’s the business development and sales development is essentially responsible for building pipeline, creating qualified opportunities. And then from there, they’re handing off those opportunities to someone who’s going to close the deal.

It’s kind of like an assembly line where BDRs are responsible for one wing and then the closer ups are responsible for the. And then even further then when they’re done closing it, they hand it off to maybe a customer success manager, and then they’re managing like upsales and expansions.

[00:04:38] Brad Seaman: But in your mind, you are those interchangeable.

So if I call them sales development reps, or I call them business development reps, you respond the same. You’ll respond in the same way.

[00:04:46] Emanuel Carpenter: Absolutely. Awesome. We are. When I first started, we were called lead generation rep. Yeah,

[00:04:55] Brad Seaman: absolutely. Okay, awesome. So it, wasn’t what I want to talk about making the switch from B and being a sales development rep to manage the sales development reps or business belt reps, however you want, however you want to say it.

but let’s, let’s talk first about the, kind of the person that like, I want to ask you this question, how what’s the balance between knowing everything about the product. And selling the sizzle over the steak, like, let’s talk about the sales development role, kind of how that, how’s that fit in the whole sales cycle.

And then what, what specific characteristics do you think are important in that sales development position and are those same things that make you a good SDR, make you a good sales person? I’m dumping a bunch of stuff on you and then should it be, should that be the site? Like you see the sales development?

Uh, role really being, kind of a training ground for developing people into salespeople and should it, so let’s just, let’s just unpack, let’s unpack all that. Let’s talk about you pick one of those things

[00:06:03] Emanuel Carpenter: and we’ll go. So first let’s talk about what makes up a really good BDR. I think a really good BDR.

It’s just naturally cure. They want to know everything that’s going on in an account. Uh, they have that grit and resilience, meaning that. They’re going to get people who tell them to get lost, or they’re not interested. And they have to keep going. They have to not let that hold them back because they have to understand that it only takes a small percentage of people to say yes, to be successful as a BDR.

And then they have to be able to follow a plan. So they have to be structured strict schedule their day, specifically on what they want to do. And as you know, very structured way from nine to 10, I’m doing my research from 10 to 11. I’m making calls from 11 to 12. I’m sending. Very structured. Uh, and then, um, also they just have to be optimistic as well.

I think that they have to understand that, you know, things will always get better and they have to not feel pessimistic thinking that, you know, this job sucks and there’s no way I can be successful. You can have success in, in a BDR role. So those are some of the main things that I look for as well as I definitely look for that confidence and enthusiasm that, you know, they have to, they have to convey that over the phone when they’re talking to prospects, ’cause, you know, one of my friends were getting him, said that that’s just sales is like the transfer of enthusiasm.

And I really believe in that. Yeah. So definitely, you know, share that. Why you’re enthused about a product or about a solution to help an organization with a problem or pain. Yeah. And so, so when you make that transition from BDR to BDR lead, So now you have to like reset. Now you definitely understand what makes a good BDR, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that makes a good leader.

A good leader really has to be one, you know, a really good coach. So they have to understand the weaknesses of a BDR. What’s going to make them successful and how the coach them. And they have to really have a solid coaching framework. I’ve worked with a lot of BDR managers who they would do their normal one-on-ones every week.

And we’ll talk about KPIs. It will talk about, career progression. And then in a little sliver of time, they would maybe add on 10 minutes for coaching. But what I had suggested they do is that instead of doing that. I suggested that they dedicate an entire 30 to 45 minutes on nothing but coaching.

They spend 30 to 40 minutes on whatever that is. If it’s a weakness of that identified with the BDR, or if the BDR has self identified a weak. Cover that one subject per week. And then the very next week, have the BDR demonstrate what they learned in that coaching session, because they have to get better at what they’re doing.

So you have to be a great coach. That’s like one of the main things, a trainer you have to really get good at marketing and leveraging the tools in place. Like for example, you have to know how to write a sequence. So, you know, after knowing the editor. Or a cadence using outreach or sales law. there’s so many other things you have to do.

Like you have to be, you have to be able to leverage the business partners within the organization. So you’re working with marketing, you’re working with sales enablement, you’re working with the AEs and the, their managers who close deals. So you have to be able to park it with all these people because they all work interchangeably.

They all work together for one goal and that’s to get close deals. The several other things that a BDR manager has to do. In fact, that was the whole purpose of me writing the book. Now that’s how you lead STR teams is because, you know, I did, denify like 16 different things that you have to do as a BDR manager outside of the coaching and working with other partners and training people that just so many things that you do.


[00:09:52] Brad Seaman: do you think so, so do you feel why the SDR training ground was, so I’m going to call it should be the springboard to get in to a sales role, or do you feel like, do you feel, or what, what are your thoughts on that? Cause it’s typically you. As an onboarding process, right? We, we hire, we’re going to hire some SDRs.

We’re going to pick them out. We’re going to move them into AEs. What do you think

[00:10:17] Emanuel Carpenter: about that? It’s funny because when I first started as a BDR, that wasn’t the situation where the majority of BDRs that were working. Then I worked with, or either former AEs who were just, you know, tired of carrying the bag and tired of doing that role.

And they became BDRs or they were just new to sales and they wanted to try their hand at sales without necessarily closing deals. But now I think SAS organizations have kind of made that. kind of an apprenticeship for the sales role, so that in order to get an AA job in a SAS organization, you first have to be a BDR, have to learn about the products kind of cause you’re, you’re like it’s really surface levels.

But you also have to learn about, you know, buyer personas and, you know, what’s the difference between all the buyer personas that you sell to. And then you have to truly understand how to create interest, how to book a meeting, how to follow your pipeline. So there’s some things that you do in a BDR role that are like sales motions, but there’s also some marketing motions in there as well.

So it doesn’t necessarily 100% prepare you for a cold. I think once you establish yourself as a BDR, you can do, like, you can be a fantastic BDR. You can hit a hundred percent or more of quota. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re going to be a great agent. but it does prepare you for some basic things.

Like if you’re going to continue to be prospecting, if you got to be reaching out to the same personas as an a E, if you’re getting an understanding of the basis of those products and services that you sell, then that kind of prepares you for it. But then those, those other things that you still have to learn, like you have to learn how to negotiate.

You have to learn how to work with multiple stakeholders. You have to learn how to work with your internal team to get a deal with. And you have to learn how to execute a demo and execute a discovery call. So there’s a lot of things that you do as an a E that you don’t do as a BDR, which is wisely. It doesn’t necessarily predict that you’ll be a good

[00:12:24] Brad Seaman: aide.

That you’ll be a good a, well, I, you know, I find that, you know, a lot of this, so a lot of the skills that make you a good pro for example, if you’re familiar with, most of the personality profiles. So whether you’re looking at like a predictive index or a. Uh, you know, you’ve got the four quadrants and, compliance, actually, if you’re high in compliance, can make you a really efficient SDR because you’re just fall.

You can follow the rules, you can come up with a plan. you know, I call it like hitting balls, right? If you’re a golfer, you’re you come up with a plan, you go out and you just are, you’re hitting balls and you’re PR you’re perfecting it. Well, that makes you a really good STD. It could make your really bad salesperson if you can’t deal with the friction because sales cycle, the sale is full of complications.

And like, if there’s, I always say, if there’s no heat, there’s no deal. Like, have you ever closed the deal? It didn’t have a little, like little something on it. You know, like if you’re involved in the sales cycle, you know, there’s a little, there’s something on a deal that closes if they go through all the stages and there’s no pushback, no friction, no, there’s no indication that there’s any.

like heat on the deal. It’s not going down. That’s a deal. That’s not, that’s a deal. It’s not going down. So when the sales guy says, Hey, they’d gone through all the processes and they’re going to sign. And you’re like, man, they’re moving every once in a while, I got, I got one to our sales guy closed like really quick.

And there was no friction. It was a really big deal. I was like, oh, this is not going to close because it was, it’s a big county. And usually when they come in really fast and they’re like, they come in and they want, they’re like, Hey, we’re ready to move. Right. They never close. And so comes in, skips all the stages, no friction that closes.

And I’m like, all right, you got one, but we’ve been doing this for a long time. And that’s like, one of the, that’s like one a hundreds, you know? So there’s got, so the point is, you know, an SDR. Can be a real, a personality that could be really good in this. Your role is one that has a high compliance and can follow the steps and the rules super organized.

but if you put that person in a sales role, there could be a lot of, um, there could be a challenge in closing because they can’t deal with, they can’t deal with the intensity of a sale.

[00:14:38] Emanuel Carpenter: Yeah, I think if they are able to establish that they can follow a process. And so they go through the whole training of becoming an ag from an SDR BDR role.

There’s a better chance of them being good AEs. If they could follow that process, they can learn from the experience of the AEs already on the team or the managers on the team. And they can follow that process.

[00:15:00] Brad Seaman: so let me ask you this. You made a real wa fair to say you’ve had a long career. Hold it like being an SDR, correct?

Correct. Okay. And then you make the transition into, into management. What’s the like, do how, when they talk about SDR or let me back up, you mentioned the SAS guys really turning this into a training ground for executives and I’m laughing because I think the SAS, SAS, as a, as a marketplace has really done a lot of damage.

Um, to sales reps, they’ve taken them, you know, for example, you get a sales rep and they go through, Sandler and then you get them on their phone. They’re just like jerks. And you’re just like, why? Like asking questions. They know the answer to, and they’re just antagonize. Like it’s like bloodsport.

Like if I get a Sandler, I just mentioned this on the podcast button. If I get into a say in their sales funnel, like if I feel that coming on me, you get all freaked out. Like I just like started shutting the boat all down my hands, go up my feet, go, I start like fighting it. I hate to say their sales funnel.

Like when I feel like I’m going in the paper.

[00:16:04] Emanuel Carpenter: Blacked out thought about what to go with because you’re, you’re used to it because you’re, you know, you’re a sales person, whereas opposed to someone who may not be, you know, coming up from a sales role, they may not even recognize that they are. Yeah.

[00:16:20] Brad Seaman: Especially if the, so the point of this story is, Hey, um, SAS is a space, has taken people, they’ve run them through significant training programs like Sandler. They’d put them on the phone. And they’ve been tagged Tonies buyers under three circumstances, young, young people asking questions, um, that they don’t have context around, which I think as a buyer is just generally insulting.

Um, and there’s been a lot of damage done, I think, to brands and to, by not training people appropriately or not getting the right people in the, in, in the cause. Like you can’t, you mentioned curiosity. I think that’s super important as an S. Yes. And as a Salesforce, and I don’t know that you can teach it.

Like, I, I would argue like, listen, if we go to, if we go somewhere and in, and in, like, I don’t know that that’s something you can teach. I don’t think you can teach curiosity or they got something somebody either has. And, and you say something, I keep poking you or I don’t have it. I don’t, I don’t. I mean, we might have, I would love to have a counter argument to that, but I feel like.

You there curious or inaccurate? I don’t know how to get around.

[00:17:34] Emanuel Carpenter: you’re at least someone how to be more investigative, but not necessarily curious that, just doing it because they’ve been taught how to be more investigative. And if they’re not naturally curious, there’s some things that might not come out

[00:17:45] Brad Seaman: well.

And I think curiosity is a combination of two traits. I think it’s interest and empathy, so you have to be interested and then you have to be empathetic. And those two things make up. Curiosity. I don’t think curiosity by itself as a blended it’s two characteristics. I, in my, my observation is two characteristics combined.

so, okay, so you made the, you made the transition. What do you, how do you, when you think about the role of sales development, do you feel like the sales development rep a job role? Is it something people should aspire to be like, honestly, like it probably doesn’t get the respect. It deserves. But what do you think?

Yeah. Talk

[00:18:27] Emanuel Carpenter: about that. Like, there was a time where it was totally fine to be a career STR career BDR, but now folks kind of push you to get out of that BDR SDR world because they see it as an apprenticeship. They expect those folks to most likely move us into ag role. I would say maybe 70, 75% of those folks should move into an eight year old with an 18 month.

Otherwise, they need to be doing something else. So I found that when BDR started an organization, they’re already looking at the grass on the other side where they’re looking at, we come in and they eat or doing something else, like becoming a marketer or being in customer success or something like that.

[00:19:07] Brad Seaman: Um, now it’s so, so how do we change? So I’m going to say some contradicting things. So, I’m going to say, I want to talk about both sides. At some level. I do think that the S I would agree. I do think the SDR role is a good place to get started, but I think there’s some skills you’re gonna learn. Right.

You’re going to learn how to be organized. You’re going to learn how to think. You’re going to learn how to interact with people. You know, it’s a, it’s a great place to start if you want to be, in sales, on the flip side, if you decide like, Hey, I’m just really good at. And I’m going to do this the rest of my life.

there’s not really a competence. There’s not really a structured environment for you to stay there. I think there, and I think the question becomes, you know what, what’s the, like, how should it look? I mean, obviously there’s going to be exceptions, right. But do we want people on the phones that have been on the phones for 20 years?

Or do we like, what’s like, how should people think about the SDR role? Like I’m in my career. Um, I love this. I want to be an SDR. Should I, you know what, like, should I stay here? Should I go, should I move? I know I’m throwing a lot at you latch

[00:20:20] Emanuel Carpenter: on to whatever. No, haven’t been a, a career STR for 13 years.

I think that there should be a space for people who are comfortable in the STR role and they don’t want to do anything else. They want. Uh, and I think the way that you create that space as one to create micro promotions. So you can go from STR one to two, three, and four, and every micro promotion you’d get a raise in compensation.

Right? And this, this in the book,

[00:20:48] Brad Seaman: is this in the book? It’s

[00:20:50] Emanuel Carpenter: not as much, it’s not in the book, but yeah. But yeah, that’s just something that I’ve seen in organizations that I’ve worked for those micro promotions help a lot. and then also you have to look at compensation as well. So you have to not treat that role as an entry level position with comp being entry level, you have to start realizing how valuable is it for my BDRs and SDRs to create pipeline and qualified opportunity.

For my AEs long-term because the last time that I was a BDR SDR, I had a six figure OTE. So I was super comfortable in that role, just earning six figures and, you know, being happy and not worrying about closing deals, but that’s not always the situation. Usually they knew they wouldn’t be promoted or they want to get more money.


[00:21:40] Brad Seaman: Yeah, well, I hope it gets, I think, I mean, I would argue that, you know, a lot, it’s a super important role. I mean, and I think it’s a role that’s hard to get people that want to stay in the room. You know, typically just, you know, not only is there pressure for you to move up, so you need advancement phone prospecting can be a very taxing on, on people and, you know, to find somebody that wants to be in that role, um, if you’re successful, then you should be compensated appropriate.

cause it is a hard job. Yeah. now what was the process for you to make the transfer? So what happens for you to say, okay, I’m not, I’m going to, I’m going to start thinking about making a shift from doing to managing.

[00:22:23] Emanuel Carpenter: Yeah. Uh, there’s a couple of things and I did talk about this in the book that as I was fueled by two things, the move from BDR to manager one was.

So I was, I was a 15 year old BDR working in a, in a room full of 20 somethings, been laughing, hip hop over the loudspeaker. I’m a place like I don’t belong here. I’m in the same job as these folks. And my manager’s like half my age, like, yeah. So one BDR had reached out to me and said, Hey, you know, Dude, how old are you like that?

Just like, okay, I get it. Now I’m too old for this role. So that was the first thing. The second thing is that I had written a book called brain dump while I was a, an STR. And when I took a position as an SDR, a new SCR role at age 50, some of the folks on my team had looked me up on LinkedIn. They found that I wrote the book, they got my book, and then they started asking me to coach them and help them.

On the day-to-day. So I was like, Hmm, maybe there’s something there. Maybe I shouldn’t be coaching BDRs, as opposed to, as opposed to just being a BDR, I would love

[00:23:35] Brad Seaman: to hear the, the water cooler. They’re like, Hey, he’s got a book, you guys read his book.

[00:23:41] Emanuel Carpenter: It’s like your bro. I get stuck with as much given all these impromptu session during the lunch like that.

And so, uh, just an opportunity had arisen where one of my old bosses had, had a friend. Who was working for a startup as the VP of sales. And he needed someone to come in as a player coach and eventually just move into a coaching role, a pure BDR manager role. So I took that position and, you know, I’ve been in the management ever.

Emanuel Carpenter has spent much of his sales life in Sales and Business Development, either as a rep or as the head of the SDR team. With his most recent book, “Now That’s How You Lead an SDR Team” Emanuel has gone on to share his keys to success as an SDR, and a leader of the SDR teams.

Emanuel sits down with Brad for the first part of his two-part interview for Decision Point. As he imparts the importance of an SDR and the need to have them be able to develop their own path in the role.

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