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No. 812 / Thank you note example: Great talking with you

Good afternoon, Ryan,

Thank you for taking the time to speak with me yesterday about the [x] position with Behavox.

It was a pleasure meeting with you, and I truly enjoyed learning more about the role and the company. I especially loved hearing how passionate everyone at Behavox is about books and reading!

After hearing more about the role, I am confident that my skills in [y] and experience as a [z] are a great match for this opportunity. I am very enthusiastic about the possibility of joining your team and would greatly appreciate a follow-up as you move forward with the hiring process.

If you need any further information, please do not hesitate to contact me by email or phone. Thanks again, and I hope to hear from you soon.

Best,

[name]

No. 811 / How to write a memorable thank you note

First things first, send a note (email or LinkedIn message) within 24 hours of your conversation. This isn’t just some unspoken rule to check off the box, it will still make you stand out. In fact, I’m starting to notice that thank you notes and follow-ups are actually becoming less common.

Next, send a note to everyone you met with. Don’t merely cc everyone on the same email—take the extra few minutes to write to each person individually.

Finally, personalize. Recall something specific the interviewer mentioned. Express your gratitude for their time and show enthusiasm for the role. Close with why your experience, interests, and aptitudes align with the company’s vision.

This may sound routine and generic but again, a small percentage of candidates do it right. A strong follow-up will always get remembered.

In the coming days, I’ll share examples of thank you notes that particularly caught my attention.

No. 810 / The long game

When it comes to your career, it’s easy to think about things on a micro level. That extra 5k feels like a lot right now. Those benefits seem important. You situation might not be ideal.

But is “ideal” what you are looking for? At this stage in your career, what is most important? Look at it this way, for the first 50-70% of your career, you’re laying the foundation. You’re working with mentors who have accomplished what you would like you. You’re working in an environment where you are pushed and supported and challenged. You’re building your reputation, establishing your tribe, laying the groundwork.

Sure, you have to take care of bare necessities for the time being. But don’t let those stand in the way of the big picture. Things might seem tough now but, who knows, what if it’s a crucial step that propels you to where you want to go?

All I’m saying is to keep the long game in mind. It’s not necessarily about winning today but rather, staying relevant forever.

No. 809 / What's your job?

Not your title, but your job. What were you hired to do? When you are doing ‘work’ what is it you are doing? What change are you making? What do you do that is worth paying for?

“I recruit people.”

“I make my boss and those with whom I work more successful.”

“I turn visitors into customers” or “I turn customers into fans.”

“I close deals.”

Showing up is always the first step but you become an asset when you execute well on your core job. People will value the other things you bring to the table but your ability to make a difference will be measured by what you were hired to do and how well you are able to perform those duties.

No. 808 / It's not you, it's the opportunity

Sometimes.

Because sometimes, it is you. In fact, most of the time, it’s in your best interest to stick it out, see it through, and turn your obstacle into an opportunity.

But then there are those times when it’s not you, it’s the opportunity. There may come a time when you have to call it what it is and find a different way because the obstacle isn’t worth your effort.

Again, this is usually the exception.

So how do you tell whether it’s you or the opportunity? Look for patterns. Are you constantly unsatisfied? Have you felt undervalued in other places? Were you not a culture fit before? It’s probably you. Do they have turnover issues? Are they constantly overpromising and under-delivering? Are they ‘hiring for culture fit’ as a means to discriminate? It’s likely the opportunity.

No. 807 / Reasons to work

1) For the money

2) To grow and be challenged

3) To fulfill your vocation/calling

4) For the impact you can make

5) For the reputation

6) To be recognized

7) To be part of something bigger than yourself

8) To solve interesting problems

9) For the joy/pleasure of doing the work

Instructure calls these Career Drivers. They are why we do what we do. Every time you think about work, these are, most likely, the factors at work. The first point gets all the attention, but it’s the other items on this list that explain why people quit, get let go, start something on their own, feel satisfied or frustrated at work.

Understand what’s driving your career. #1 won’t mean much to you if you are missing out on #2 through #9.

No. 806 / Not a great fit

Don’t be so hard on yourself and don’t take things personally.

You did your best to find a place to work that matched your belief system. After three conversations, you had a good feeling that you had found the right fit. But things change. At large and small organizations. You change, too. You learn things about yourself and discover other paths that look more promising. Companies do the same thing.

It could be the timing. It might be that you’re in the wrong position. It’s possible that it’s a combination of both. Regardless, don’t let it get you down. Building a career is about applying your particular skill set in the right setting, at the right time, with the right people. Some people knock it out of the park or get lucky early in their career. For others, it takes a few trys.

Whatever your situation is, be patient. Keep focusing on learning and adding value. Your time will come.

No. 805 / Where should you work?

One of the best things you can do when you are trying to find out where you should work is to learn about the leadership team. Specifically the CEO. The company culture always takes on the identity of the leadership team. It’s a trickle-down effect. Even if your direct manager is great and the kind of person you would love to work for, if they are under a certain pressure from their superiors to do things contradictory to their values, you’re going to feel the effects.

Next, and this still has to do with my first point, discover what the company cares about, does it align with your attitude toward work? Some companies are into hyper-growth, they’re numbers-driven and fast-moving. Does that sound interesting? Or, there are some that put other priorities above that like merely being profitable and creating a great place to work. These are probably less stressful, but also potentially more low-key and boring.

To each his own. But it’s up to you to first find your “own” then put in the research to make sure there is alignment.

No. 804 / The perfect job

I love this quote by Adam Grant: “The perfect job is a mirage. From a distance, it looks real. But up close, you see that a role designed by someone else can’t be everything you want. Don’t search for your dream job. Craft your existing job to better fit your values, interests, and skills.”

Every job is hard. Being a basketball coach is hard. Being a writer is hard. Being in sales is hard. And where there is an organization, there will be people who have a problem with it. So there comes a point when you have to figure out what you love and find that love in whatever it is you do. Because it’s probably there, standing right in front of you. But making a living doing what you love does require you to first find a personal belief system. Discover that, and the rest will take care of itself, no matter the circumstance.

No. 803 / How to get promoted from SDR to AE

Step 1. Stop thinking about the promotion and instead make focus on making your team lead, manager, and team successful.

Step 2. Other supporting principles include positivity, accountability, open-mindedness, and inquisitiveness.

Step 3. Shadow and find a mentor (within your organization).

Step 4. After delivering on your promises, have an open discussion about what it will take to become an AE.

Step 4a. If you’re not confident there are growth opportunities in your current organization even when you do delivery on your commitments, skip the line and switch companies.

No. 802 / Avoiding burnout as an SDR

Avoiding burnout as an SDR doesn’t look that much different from avoiding burnout in any other position. It comes down to one of my favorite cliches: be comfortable with being uncomfortable.

But beyond this notion, there are some other things you can do that will help you thrive during your time as an SDR:

  • Manage your energy, not your time. Time management only helps us become aware of how much time we are wasting in the day. Instead, manage your priorities, the attention you give to certain people and projects. In short, your energy. As Adam Grant recently wrote: “attention management is the art of focusing on getting things done for the right reasons, in the right places and at the right moments.”

  • Find out what motivates you. It might be money. It could be the competition. Whatever it is, start there and create your goals accordingly.

  • Be positive. Make optimism part of your identity. I say “make it part of your identity” because being positive is a skill. It’s something you can learn and work on. Pay attention to your body language and the words you use. Sometimes, a simple smile (even when you don’t mean it) can spread and get the good vibes rolling in the office.

No. 801 / On becoming a high-performing SDR

In every sales organization, there is a basic bell curve of performers. About 20% of the reps will enjoy the fruits of their full commission checks, 60% will be close and still do moderately well, and 20% will struggle. It’s strange that it works out this way but you see this same distribution of performance everywhere.

So, is it just chance? Or is there something the top 20% do that the rest don’t? Turns out (at least for SDRs), there is (I’m sure the following principles apply to other roles as well).

  1. High performers focus on quality over quantity. The best don’t always make the most phone calls or send the most emails. But they do get the best response rates and have the most meetings. It’s because they do things to stand out from the crowd. They add some personal touches and flashes of personality. They learn about their prospects and treat them like humans.

  2. High performers measure their performance. They listen to their calls. They track opens and clicks. They find insights in all data-types.

  3. High performers are learn-it-alls. You get a lot of arrogant people in sales. But the best are confident, yes, but also humble and willing to learn something from every interaction. They seek mentors. They don’t bad-mouth prospects. They show respect to everyone they work with.

  4. High performers give back. They share what they learn. They know that there is enough room at the top for everyone. And they also understand that the best way to learn something is to teach it.

These are all things you already know. The difference with high performers, however, is that they know that just knowing something isn’t enough.

No. 800 / Why being an SDR is so rewarding

Every job is hard. But being an SDR requires a certain kind of grit.

Yes, it is difficult dealing with rejection, but SDRs deal with so much more than that. They experience the highest of highs and the lowest of lows—I guess this partially explains the higher-than-usual sports analogies during meetings. They also face a new mountain each and every day on the job. Which is why so many quit, become contextually blinded, or lose sight of what’s ahead. But it’s also why the role and the day-to-day responsibilities that go along with it can be so rewarding.

Some days, it’s the mundane tasks and activities that become victories in and of themselves. Even when the results didn’t turn out as you had hoped, you can look back and still determine whether or not you gave it your best. And, the great thing is, “best” can be defined in this role. It’s simply better than your previous “best.” Unlike other roles, this can be measured by your activities, tone, language, talk time, and a plethora of other indicators. Some might look at these metrics as “micromanagement” but the successful SDRs have the big picture in mind and look at these performance measurements as advantages of being an SDR.

Like most jobs, it’s all about how you look at it. For every negative you hear about being an SDR, there are ten positives. Put your own spin on your perspective.

No. 799 / Your first week on the job

Be that annoying kid who won’t stop asking questions.

Say yes.

Say your name and remember theirs.

Make a new friend.

Add value—show why they hired you.

Figure out your new routine.

Define what success looks like for you here.

Be humble.

Smile—more than you’re used to.

No. 798 / Landing a job as an SDR

Landing a job as an SDR boils down to one question—Why?

If you can clearly articulate why you want to be in sales, why at this particular stage in your career, why for this specific company, and why you’re the right fit for the role, then the job is certainly yours.

There ARE correct answers to these questions. And one of them isn’t “I enjoy helping/working with people.”

Dive deeper. Take a few days if you have to and think about your story. What has led you here? What keeps you up at night and wakes you up in the morning? What does that have to do with sales? With this opportunity?

The search to find your why will lead you to do homework on the company, on the interviewers, on the people that work there, on the mission of the business. It will spark creative ideas to help you stand out from other candidates. You’ll be better equipped to deal with objections and concerns throughout the interview process. And, finally, you’ll come up with more thoughtful questions than the other candidates because you are genuinely trying to learn as much as you can about the opportunity as opposed to merely pitching yourself.

As with most things in your career, start with why. Only then will the 'how' and 'what' begin to make sense. 

No. 797 / Best first job out of college

In my opinion (that is, after all, why I’m writing this), the best first job out of college is a sales job.

And not just any sales job. A role as a Sales Development Representative.

There are lots of options for you once you graduate from college. But few open the doors to as many opportunities as becoming an SDR does.

As an SDR, you’ll learn resiliency. Making cold calls is hard. But everyone should get the chance to do them. Even if you want to be a software developer, a marketer, a writer, whatever it is, learning how to formulate a pitch and overcome objections are two of the most valuable skills any professional can develop.

Almost every SDR I’ve known has talked about starting their own business one day. Many of them have gone on to be very successful entrepreneurs. As an SDR, you get to think like an entrepreneur. You learn the value of talking to your prospects and becoming a subject matter expert to serve them better.

You’ll learn first hand the value of hard work and be able to see the fruits of your efforts clearly. You’ll learn why failing can be a good thing. You’ll build up your confidence and grit. And you’ll certainly be around other like-minded people who will push you and teach you things you’ll keep with you the rest of your career—no matter what direction you choose.

Plus, it can be one of the better-paying jobs out of college regardless of industry…

No. 796 / ABR

Always be recruiting.

No matter what line of work you’re in, it probably takes up a majority of your time. Work, after all, is what you do for a living. And, no matter what you do for a living, nobody ever benefited from having fewer connections.

That’s what recruiting essentially is. It’s networking with people. It’s pitching what you do, making a connection, then bridging the gap between what you do and how you can help. And if you can’t help now, you never know what the future holds down the road.

No. 795 / The right recruiter

It can be difficult trying to find the right recruiter to work with. Here are some things to look for:

1) A good recruiter will reach out, saying they like your experience and mention they have a few roles that might be a good fit.

2) Great recruiters will point out some things on your LinkedIn or resume and talk about how they company they are recruiting for would be very interested in having a conversation.

3) The best recruiters get to know you. They listen, keep notes, stay in touch for when the perfect opportunity comes around. Then they make introductions with the candidates’ interest in mind.

Good recruiters talk a lot. Great recruiters listen. The best recruiters challenge and ask questions.

No. 794 / Building a team

Just like the best way to save another is to first put on your own oxygen mask, the best way to get the best talent to join your team is to first create a culture that everyone wants to be part of.

It’s the genuine passion that people are drawn to. The community. The care. The attention to the small things that matter.

Otherwise, it’s false advertising. And news travels fast.

Build something that you’re proud of. Once you have something special, it becomes a lot easier to recruit special people.

No. 793 / Recruiters recruit

Another word for recruiting is persuading.

Persuading is the act of involvement in engaging with someone and causing them to do something through reasoning and argument.

It’s direct marketing.

It’s what recruiters do.

And if you want to build a special team, you’ll first need to become a gifted recruiter.