Software Sales

Sales Development Rep Ultimate Guide | 10 Tips to Become a Top Performing SDR

Sales Development Rep (SDR) and Business Development Rep (BDR) are both well-paying, entry-level tech sales jobs. They’re entryways into the top software companies and the lucrative and exciting career as a software salesperson.

In this article, we’ll break down everything you need to know about becoming an SDR and succeeding at the job so that you can decide if it’s the right job for you. This is your Sales Development Rep ultimate guide.

What is a Sales Development Representative (SDR)?

A Sales Development Representative is an entry-level salesperson whose main purpose is to book sales meetings with qualified leads for an Account Executive (AE). They spend most of their time cold calling and emailing, responding to inbound leads, and holding short qualification calls to see if leads are worth passing to the AE.

What is a Business Development Representative (BDR)?

In most cases, Business Development Representative and Sales Development Representative are interchangeable terms.

However, some businesses make a distinction between the two job titles and have both types of reps on their sales team. In that case, the SDRs handle the inbound leads who come to them through marketing forms, inbound phone calls, etc. BDRs do the outbound prospecting, making cold calls, and sending cold emails.

But, this specialization is becoming increasingly less common. For the sake of consistency, throughout this article, we’ll use the term SDR. Everything we write also applies to the average BDR.

What Do Sales Development Representatives Do? 

Sales Development Representatives spend most of their time on the hunt trying to get the attention of potential leads on their prospecting lists. They’re researching leads, cold calling, cold emailing, social networking, and responding to inbound queries and demo requests. They dedicate a lot of energy to trying to book meetings with qualified buyers so they can hit quota.

Here’s an example of the average day of an SDR:

  • 9:00 AM - 9:30 AM: Read industry news, plan your day, and set up your area.
  • 9:30 AM - 11:30 AM: Cold calling block: Make at least 30 cold calls to leads on your prospecting list.
  • 11:30 AM - 12 PM: Record notes in CRM, open opportunities booked, and reflect on calls that went well.
  • 12 PM - 1 PM: Lunchtime. Try to avoid a big bowl of pasta if you want to nail your next cold call block (I speak from experience).
  • 1 PM - 2:30 PM: Cold calling block: Make at least 30 cold calls to leads on your prospecting list.
  • 2:30 PM - 3:30 PM: Cold emailing block: Send out 25 personalized cold emails.
  • 3:30 PM - 5:00 PM: Update your CRM and do research on your leads and their companies for tomorrow’s calls.

Of course, each day will differ slightly, even with a tight schedule. Leads will randomly call in or submit forms that you have to respond to quickly if you want to get them while they’re hot.

You’ll also have team meetings and training sessions thrown onto your calendar. Plus, you’ll have short discovery phone calls scheduled with interested leads.

The day of an SDR is pretty taxing. Many make between 40-60 cold calls a day and send at least 30 personalized cold emails.

However, the experience you gain from the experience, not to mention the commission, is often well worth it.

After 6 months of grinding it out, you’ll have mastered the arts of getting people’s attention, persistence, and overcoming rejection, among other sales skills like sparking desire. Those three will help you in any area of life.

How Much Money Do Sales Development Reps Make?

Sales development reps earn an average of $72,771 per year, $49,000 of which is a base salary, the rest being commission. Business development reps earn an average of $77,334 per year with a base salary of $52,000. This makes these two positions some of the highest-earning entry-level jobs you can have. Plus, when you get promoted to AE, you’ll be making six figures.

Sales Development Representative Jobs

There is a surplus of Sales Development Rep jobs. Software companies need people to help them generate leads, and they’re happy to hire people without sales experience as long as they have solid people skills.

Here are some reputable software companies that always seem to be hiring SDRs or BDRs:

  • Workday
  • IBM
  • Dell
  • Salesforce
  • Ultimate Software (UKG)
  • Oracle

We have an entire list of the high-paying companies to work for in software sales. Most hire SDRs. Or you can check out the Tech Sales Jobs board and filter by SDR jobs.

And don’t let a lack of a college degree keep you from pursuing tech sales. This Sales Development Rep Ultimate Guide will teach you everything you need to know. Plus, just look at Workday’s job posting under Qualification:

Are There Remote SDR Jobs?

Yes, there are a bunch of remote SDR jobs out there. Ever since the pandemic software companies have become extremely open to the idea of having their employees work from home. The job doesn’t require too much collaboration. And you can strategize with your AE and talk to your manager through video conferencing software anyway. Check out our article on the best companies hiring remote SDRs to start planning your attack.

How Do You Get an Entry-Level Job as an SDR?

The best way to get an SDR job is by tapping into your network and seeing if any of your peers know of job openings at any software company. But, you can also apply to job postings on job boards with your resume and cover letter. There are so many SDR jobs out there you shouldn’t have too much trouble going this route, especially if you have any customer service experience. Below are some best practices for landing an SDR job.

Create a Resume That Works for an SDR Job

When building out your SDR resume it’s important to make it reflect the job posting and use its keywords. That way if they’re using HR software to scan resumes it’ll tag yours as a priority since you’re a good fit.

 It’s also critical that you highlight any sales or customer service experience you’ve had, as well as any entrepreneurial endeavors, for employers often want reps to have strong business acumen.

Write a Strong SDR Cover Letter

If you have no experience, your cover letter for an SDR job should be short and demonstrate your hunger to succeed and learn in this role. Employers want a hunter who won’t give up when faced with adversity. You can prove this with many of your life experiences. Talk about difficult achievements that took a lot of hard work and perseverance. Also, make a point to highlight any business, customer service, or sales experiences.

Know Common SDR Interview Questions & How to Answer Them

SDR interviewers tend to ask pretty basic interview questions like “why do you want to work here?” and “tell me about a failure you’ve experienced.” You won’t usually get too many technical questions as you would in a consulting or finance interview, aside from maybe “tell me how our product works.” Because these interview questions are rather predictable, you can prepare your answers for them beforehand.

Here's the Sales Development Rep Ultimate Guide list of common SDR interview questions and guidance on how to answer them:

  • Why Do You Want to Work Here?: Bring up something you’ve learned about the company culture or software to prove you’ve done your homework and actually want to work there.
  • Can You Explain Our Software to Me?: Do some research beforehand to grasp the basics of their top software platforms so you can explain it using simple language. They’re testing to see if you’re actually interested and your communication skills.
  • Can You Tell Me About Yourself?: Prepare a 2-3 minute story of the highlights of your career that emphasize your ability to build relationships. It should also explain why you have chosen to pursue an SDR role so the employer empathizes with you.
  • Explain a Time You’ve Had When You Failed: They’re testing your grit. Rejection is frequent as an SDR. Share a story about a time when you faced a failure, what you learned from it, and how you used that knowledge to succeed in the end.
  • Why Should We Hire You?: They’re testing your ability to persuade logically. Prepare a sales pitch that talks about their needs, which they share in the job posting.
  • How Would You Get a Lead’s Attention?: Tell the employer that you’d find their key pain points through research and then bring them up on a cold call or email along with your proposed solution.
  • Why Do You Want to Work in Sales?: Be honest, of course. But, employers tend to like hearing that you enjoy competition, thrive under pressure, and want to learn how to sell.
  • What Motivates You?: This is one of the only job interviews in which saying “money motivates me” is actually preferred by the employer. It implies that you’ll try hard to hit and surpass your quota, and that means they’ll get profitable leads.

The interview will usually end with the interviewer asking you if you have any questions for them. Take advantage of this opportunity. Ask at least five questions. Not only can you use it to learn a bunch about the job and company to see if it’s a good fit for you, but you can also use this time to prove you’re inquisitive and personable — both traits of effective SDRs.

Also, showing interest in others and their group makes them like you more. And lastly, asking questions will prove that you are really considering the job. Read our article to learn some questions to ask the employer at the end of an SDR interview. 

Tips to Become a Top Performing SDR

To become a successful SDR who surpasses their quota consistently you’re going to need to be persistent, curious, and knowledgeable about your software and how it can change businesses for the better. If you have these three virtues you’ll be more likely to pick up the phone and call even when you don’t feel like it, and your calls will generate leads more often because you’ll ask the right questions and pitch the right value proposition.

Sales Development Rep ultimate guide best practices you can follow to master the SDR role:

  • Shadow Successful SDRs: Listen to the best SDRs make their cold calls and pick up tactics you can use during your calls. Also read their highest-converting emails.
  • Practice with Mock Cold Calls: Spend time with a peer alternating between the cold caller and the lead.
  • Read Sales Books: BDRs should read software sales books to learn skills, cold call scripts, and methodologies they can apply to their job.  
  • Make 50+ Cold Calls a Day: The more calls you make the higher chance you have of connecting with someone open to a meeting. Plus, with quantity comes experience. 
  • Send 25+ Cold Emails a Day: Personalize these emails to each individual. Do your research to figure out what challenges they might be having and include a solution to it in your email.
  • Social Sell on LinkedIn: Add social selling to your prospecting routine. Connect with decision-makers, interact with their posts, publish your own insightful posts, and provide them with value. Once they’re familiar with you, DM them for a meeting.
  • Overcome the Fear of Rejection: After weeks of cold calling, you’ll have experienced hundreds of rejections. Soon failure will mean nothing to you. Then there will be nothing holding you back from trying.
  • Follow-Up: Always follow up with leads. Even when you’ve already booked a meeting with them it helps to send a reminder a day before to avoid a no-show.
  • Review Your Calls: Use software like Gong to listen to your calls to see where they went wrong so you can adjust your strategy the next time.
  • Study Your Ideal Customers: Learn what motivates them and their pain points so that you can craft sales language that more effectively interests them.

The key is getting your reps in and learning something new every day. With practice, you’ll start to feel smooth and confident on the phone.

What is the Typical SDR Career Progression?

After 1-2 years in the job, SDRs typically move into Account Executive roles, which are lucrative closing positions. As an AE, you nurture qualified leads to a close-by giving them web demos and presentations, answering their questions, and guiding them through the sales process.

After a few years as an AE, many reps choose to become Enterprise Account Executives to handle bigger accounts and earn more. Some might become Sales Managers or Directors if they want to learn about management and strategy.

However, some SDRs might never choose to become AEs. They might get tired of a quota-carrying position and switch over to Customer Success or Account Management. In those roles, they’ll manage and grow relationships with current clients. Some SDRs switch departments entirely or use their business and sales acumen to start their own businesses.

After working as an SDR, you have plenty of options. Employers from most industries and careers want strong communication skills. Even if they don’t, you’ll be able to sell yourself to them.

Bottom Line: Sales Development Rep Ultimate Guide

SDRs and BDRs can make upwards of 70k and have fun doing it. The software companies they work for usually offer premium benefits and perks, along with fun events, happy hours, game rooms, and all that jazz that comes with the startup life. If becoming an SDR sounds like the next career move for you, head over to the Salestrax job board where you can find numerous software SDR sales jobs.