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Toni Redmen, Director of SDR’s – Okta – Your Title Is Not Important – Sales Confidence

Gosh seven minutes. Well good evening everyone as James said my name is Toni Redmen. I run the SRD and BDR organization here at Okta. I’ve been here for 15 months and I come from a company called Adobe, where I was there 17 years, so it was a big decision for me to made, but had an amazing time in the last 15 months. So BDRs, SDRs, MDRs, AEMs, ISRs. These are all the titles that we’ve known for, you know how many here are ADMs? No one? I ran an organization of ADMs, that was so yesterday, but the point is it doesn’t matter what your title is. The actual objective is the same, we’re all here to prospect, we’re here to cold call, we’re here to follow-up on leads, we’re here to book meetings, and generate pipeline for our sales organization. And even if you’re inside sales rep, which is where I started many years ago you might be closing deals but ultimately you’ve still got a prospect, you’ve still got to book those meetings, you’ve still got to book to do the cold call.

So I started life many years ago in inside sales, and in those days there was no internet, no mobile phones, and my very first day I was given a desk phone, and I was given yellow pages. And probably you lot don’t know what the yellow pages are, but it’s basically that’s what I used to prospect I would have to go through the yellow pages, find a company, ring the switchboard, get through the gate keeper, qualify and see if that company needed our solution our product. Today you guys have got LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, the website, you can do the research, and at the end of the day the question is is it easier. I don’t think actually is because with new technology we get new regulations, so we’ve got the telephone preferential service, people registering that we can’t call them, we’ve got people opting in and opting out, and of course GDPR. And in three years time or four years or ten years time, what new technology will come out, will it help us will it hinder us? We don’t know, but the role itself is the same, so whether it was three years ago, ten years ago, twenty years ago, whether it was five months time, there will still be somebody who needs to prospect he needs to make that cold call, he needs to get hold of that key stakeholder, he needs to qualify and he book the meeting. So it’s irrelevant whether it was then or now the future we’re still going to have to do that role.

When I interview individuals, I look for individuals who wants a career. That’s not to say SDRs or inside sales or Arms or BDRs or whatever we’re known for isn’t a career, because I know quite a few people who have been doing an SDR of ten or fifteen years. They enjoy it they are very successful and they are don’t want to move, but they are the minority. Most people use this role as a platform; platform to start of their career, to kick off their career and what other people who are hungry, who want a career we want to be successful, wait for this, who are patient. So I’ve got a 24 year old daughter and she is not patient! But if you are, and if you’re successful and if you stick at it, you will have an excellent fruitful career, and it doesn’t have to be in sales, although the majority are sales, but in my past life we’ve had SDRs that have gone into marketing, customer success, deal desk, renewals, as well as inside sales and AEs. And until you actually start doing the role and start shadowing people you really don’t know where your skill sets are and where you really want to go. 

When you are looking for a role and when you go to a company, this is your job do your research, you should be looking at companies that are growing, you should be looking at companies, should look at the share price, you should be looking at the founders, look at the mission, look at their values, do their values match your values, what they do about diversity, do you support charities. One of the great things here at Okta, is that each employee has three days a year that they can take to do voluntary work, which is great. You need to look and see what their enablement program’s like, not just when you start, but throughout your time, you don’t want somebody to train you up to do the job and then there’s nothing. Look and see do they have a mentoring program that’s really key. One of my successes I feel that very very early on in my career I found a mentor that I trusted 100%, who is very honest and guided me, and I can honestly say if it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be here today and it was his knowledge in the industry, is was his networking and his guidance that allowed me to progress and make some of the rights decisions that I made. When you go for that interview, and you’ve done all your research you’re interviewing that individual as much as they’re interviewing you. So you need to ask those questions because you need to make sure that when you join that company it’s the right move for you. You don’t want to join a company and move and move and move, because that’s something that people look and want to know why, so make sure that when you do your research and make sure that when you’re sitting in front of somebody you’re interviewing them as much as they’re interviewing you. Well thank you very much your time I have found that interesting and useful.

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