Sales Development Representatives

Everything you need to know about a career as a Sales Development Representative

What are Sales Development Representatives (SDRs)?

The main goal for Sales Development Representatives (i.e., SDRs) is to qualify leads for account executives (i.e., closers).

 

They are responsible for keeping the sales pipeline full of qualified leads. To do this, they spend their days talking to potential customers through social media, email (both 1:1 and drip campaigns), phone calls, and increasingly video messages. Then, once a lead is qualified, they pass it over to an experienced account executive to close the sale.


Salesforce initially pioneered this role to maximize efficiency within their sales organization. They even went as far as to call them the “superheroes of your sales team.

 

As you can see from Google Trends, searches for sales development representatives has grown exponentially over the last decade. This is especially true in B2B and enterprise sales teams.

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In fact, in a survey from Bridge Group, 6 out of 10 SaaS Companies have at least one SDR on staff.

Most SDR positions are entry-level roles. This role is ideal for someone looking to break into sales or marketing. It can also be an excellent role for someone who is entrepreneurial and wants to develop their sales chops so they can start their own business someday.

 

Depending on the company, the prospecting that SDRs do can be either cold or warm outreach. Often, it is a mix of the two.

 

For warm outreach, marketing has already supplied and qualified the lead list, so they are dealing with marketing-qualified leads (MQLs). These leads come from social media, blog posts, whitepapers, and online advertising (i.e., Facebook ads, Google Ads, etc.). These leads are often easier to move through the sales funnel because they have already opted into learning more. It is now the SDR’s job to figure out if they are a qualified buyer or simply browsing.

 

Cold outreach works the same way except you have the added burden of generating awareness and educating them about your company.

Why do you need an SDR team?

To run a successful sales department, it is all about having solid systems and sales processes in place.

 

When it is just the founder(s) and a couple of individual salespeople, having a robust CRM software (such as Salesforce, Hubspot CRM, or Pipedrive), a sales playbook and much energy can go a long way.

However, as your business scales, you need to build out more systems. It is no longer efficient to have salespeople do all of the tasks.

You need to divide up the roles and responsibilities into prospecting, closing, and management.

This typically means having a VP of Sales, a handful of sales managers, account executives (i.e., closers) and SDRs (i.e., prospectors).

 

Here are some signs that it is time to hire SDRs:

  • Volume of inbound leads has increased significantly
  • Your salespeople aren’t following up with leads regularly or at all
  • Your sales pipeline is full of unqualified leads
  • Your top salespeople are spending all of their time closing and not prospecting
  • Your sales cycle is long and requires multiple “touches”

 

When you do hire an SDR, it can be helpful to hire two or more at a time.  There are many advantages including:

 

  • Efficient onboarding and training
  • Easier to set realistic KPIs and metrics
  • Provide instant camaraderie for new SDR hires
  • Protect against the downsides if a new hire doesn’t perform well, decides the role isn’t for them or burns out.

SDR Compensation

The starting annual salary ranges from $40,000 - $70,000 USD with performance bonuses typically on the number of sales-qualified leads or sales-qualified appointments.

San Francisco, CANew York, NYAustin, TXChicago, ILLos Angeles, CA
Base | OTEBase | OTEBase | OTEBase | OTEBase | OTE
$50-65K | $75-95K$50-70K | $70-100K$40-60K | $50-70K$40-55K | $55-75K$45-65K | $60-90K

What are a SDRs responsibilities?

A Sales Development Reps’ core responsibilities include:

 

  • Research, identify and develop relationships with key decision makers
  • Qualify leads from inbound marketing campaigns primarily through social media, phone, and email
  • Follow up with leads promptly
    Understand the features and benefits of the product or service that they are selling
  • Build trust and rapport with leads by identifying their pain points and helping them find an appropriate solution
  • Schedule sales qualified calls and meetings with account executives (i.e., closers)

What the Hiring Manager is looking for in a SDR

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What does success look like for a SDR?

Most sales organizations measure their SDRs based on a combination of output and performance-based metrics.

Here are some examples of output metrics. These metrics are tied to effort.  

  • Number of emails sent in a given day/week/month
  • Number of calls on a given day/week/month
  • Number of follow-up attempts


Here are some examples of performance metrics. These are the metrics that you should tie any performance bonuses to.

  • Number of sales qualified leads identified (SQLs)
  • Number of sales qualified appointments set with account executives
  • Open rates for sales emails
  • Response rates for sales emails
  • Average deal size
  • Number of SQLs in the pipeline sourced by each SDR

Selling Tools for SDRs

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What skills do SDRs need to possess?

In our experience, it is better to hire for attitude instead of amplitude, especially for an entry-level SDR position. You can teach a new hire how to use your CRM software, strategies for writing great cold emails, or specific product information within a few weeks on the job. It is much harder to change a candidate’s attitude or coach them on improving personality traits.

Here are the key traits and skills we look for when hiring SDRs:

 

  • Possess a growth mindset - Do they believe that with hard work and perseverance they can improve at anything they do or are they quick to give up?

 

  • Process-driven - A SDR’s job can be repetitive as they are on lots of calls and sending tons of emails. Someone who is organized and builds systems for all of their tasks will be more likely to thrive in this role.

 

  • Resilient - You are going to encounter rude prospects and hear a lot of “Nos.” Are they going to immediately shake it off and move on to their next call or sulk in the corner?

 

  • Naturally curious - Do they stay on top of industry trends, read sales books and run experiments?

 

  • Self-confident  - This goes hand in hand with resilience. You need to have the confidence to be able to chat with founders and c-level executives even if you are 30+ years younger.

 

  • Self-motivated - Sales is a tough job. You need to be able to motivate yourself through the ups and downs.  

 

  • Self-aware - Having a high emotional intelligence (EQ) and being realistic about your strengths and weaknesses is what separates the best salespeople from everyone else.

 

  • Empathetic - An SDR’s success relies on how well they are going to put themselves in their prospect’s shoes.  

 

  • Great listener - The best salespeople ask great questions to understand their prospects’ needs and then help them find the right solution.

 

  • Talented communicator - You should be a great communicator - both verbal and written.

 

  • Coachable - Do they seek out advice to get better at their job? Do they openly accept constructive criticism and use that to improve or do they get defensive?

 

  • Team player - Do they work well in a team environment?

Here are a few resources to help you nail that interview:

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5 Steps to Getting a New Job

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How Betts can help you land a SDR role

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