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Ham and pineapple — a polarizing but surprisingly appetizing pairing.

Sales development representatives (SDRs) spend their days scoring meetings with promising leads so that account executives (AEs) can close some sweet deals with them. Some friction is bound to happen if they work isolated from each other.

But great things happen if SDRs and AEs are paired together. When pulled off successfully, AE/SDR pairings lead to more closed deals, fuller pipelines, and more effective outreach. 

Our dynamic sales duo here at ZoomInfo not only crushes the sales cycle, but they have their own fun. Manager of Customer Development Nick Johnston and Director of Sales Mason Neely share how successful their partnership is.

Forming an SDR AE Relationship in the Sales Thunderdome

“How would the other AEs and SDRs describe us? I honestly would say the dream team, because they say teamwork makes the dream work, and we’ve been making the dream work each and every single day,” Johnston explains.

“I think how other account executives and SDRs would describe or look at Mason and me, it’s kind of like a brotherhood because we’ve really grown to be great friends. I can look to him for anything inside work and almost anything outside of work. He just has really grown to be a great friend of mine, and that really has helped us in our professional relationship and really kind of contributed to our success as well.”

A brotherhood in a non-frat house way though — beer pong is not guaranteed for deal close celebrations (most days).

This friendship has gone both ways.

“ One thing that I’ve always looked forward to with Nick is, on a Friday morning he’s talking about how his Thursday night indoor soccer game went, and on Monday morning he’s talking about how my soccer game went,” explains Neely

“I think that that’s something rare where AEs and SDRs are so close that they would consider driving four hours to go play on each other’s soccer team for a night.”

“Literally the first conversation, we just clicked. And that’s where I had a really good feeling that this was a match made in heaven and there [were] a lot of great things to come … We found a lot of common ground and that’s where it just really felt like we could hit the ground running,” Johnston says.

Aside from personal interests, where can common ground be found amongst a sales team? Sales professionals typically have common traits: competitiveness, ambition, and drive.

So how does this dynamic duo describe each other? Loud and competitive? Comical? How would you describe individuals in your sales team?

“ I think three words to describe Nick would be professional, intelligent, and hungry,” Neely states. 

Johnston? Well, here’s what he answers back with:

“It’s hard to put it just in three words, but if I had to pick three words to describe Mason, it would be professional, loyal, and helpful. Always there to lend a hand.”

Birds of a Feather Flock to… Revenue

Having different responsibilities doesn’t mean you can’t learn from each other. Through the challenges of putting leads through the buyer’s journey, Neely and Johnston have learned plenty from one another.

“I’ve learned a lot from Mason throughout our pairing, but one of the things that really stands out to me, is what I’ve learned from him is how to push and how to dig deeper than the surface level to identify some key pieces of information that are going to really help the deal move forward,” Johnston explains.

“Pieces of information,” referring to valuable sales intelligence and intent. And you can also use intent data to precisely find your perfect lead.

But of course, there’s more to selling than initial prospecting:

“ … I think that one of the biggest things that Nick improved on and I don’t think it’s from me necessarily, but his confidence over the past year and a half,”

“I’ve watched Nick go from being an SDR who was picking up the phone and calling through with the script that he was suggested to utilize, to Nick who can call up the CEO, speak on the fly and be able to push back on the executive and in a polite manner, letting them know where they’re missing value by not taking the time to come join us for a conversation,” Neely explains.

Cold calling is one of the worst (if not THE worst) part of a sales job — especially with c-suite contacts. In fact, about half of sales professionals fear making cold calls.

Johnston goes into how he gets the most out of his workday with these words of wisdom:

“My process is each and every single morning, I ask myself three questions. What am I grateful for? What do I want to focus on today? And what do I want to accomplish? 

“Those three questions really help me set the stage each and every single day, get my mind straight and narrow so I can just go along that path and know exactly what I want to accomplish throughout the day. And what the goal is at hand so I can focus on that and do everything I can to achieve that and nothing less.”

So how does your sales team keep focus? How can coming together strengthen your sales strategy?

SDRs Can’t Live Without AEs, Who Can’t Live Without SDRs

One common factor in SDR AE relationships that can’t be ignored is the focus on meaningful conversations with prospects — and turning them into valuable customers. To get there, sales strategies need alignment, no matter how different reps’ roles are.

We’re all hams and pineapples in some capacity — a lot of people initially turn away when combined, but it’s really a great combo.

Learn about sales prospecting

About the author

Rayana Barnes

Rayana Barnes is the Creative Content Specialist at ZoomInfo, the leading B2B contact database and sales intelligence solution for go-to-market teams.

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