Software Sales

Sales Development Representative Jobs (Ultimate Guide)

So, you’re thinking about getting Sales Development Representative Jobs at tech companies? I completely understand the struggle. I was in the exact same spot not so long ago.

Fresh out of college I spent months hunting for the perfect SDR job before landing one at a real estate software company in NYC. My two years in the role were fun and lucrative, but also quite challenging.

And that was a good thing, for going out of my comfort zone and facing failure’s ugly face each day fueled both my personal development and my professional growth as a salesperson. It was like a college education in sales.

In this guide, I’ll help you get a job as a sales development representative, regardless of your current sales experience level.

I’ll start by telling you a bit about the job, its pay, and the work it entails, and then share some tips for resume and cover letter writing, interviews, and reading materials that can give you the knowledge you need to impress hiring managers and excel at the job once it’s yours.

A Day in the Life of a Sales Development Representative

SDRs focus on the early part of the sales process. They take a lead from cold to sales-qualified (SQL). Their goal is to book meetings with qualified sales leads, thereby filling Account Executives’ pipelines.

They do this using the following outbound sales process:

  • Find potential buyers for a software product.
  • Get their (typically a decision-maker at the company) attention using cold outreach.
  • Spark their interest with an elevator pitch that includes relevant pain points.
  • Qualify them to make sure they’re a good fit for the software. 
  • Schedule an appointment for them and the Account Executive.

At this point, the SDR has done its job, and it’s their AE, the next rung up the sales ladder, who will guide the prospect to a close.

Now, you know an SDR’s process, but let’s go over what activities actually fill their days:

  • Cold Calling: Reps typically spend about 2-3 hours cold calling potential leads to try to book meetings.
  • Cold Emailing: This form of cold outreach is growing increasingly popular, and Reps typically spend about 1.5-2 hours crafting and sending these emails.
  • Social Selling: Sales reps dedicate anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour to interacting with leads over LinkedIn or other social platforms.
  • Follow-ups: Reps have to consistently follow up with leads. Rarely are any sold on taking a meeting after just one interaction.
  • CRM Updating: After lead interactions, SDRs have to update the notes and record any pertinent information that can help them or their teammates sell to the lead.
  • Research: To personalize their cold outreach and pre-qualify leads, SDRs conduct research online to learn about a lead’s job, company, and needs. They may also have to build their own prospecting lists. Often, though, their manager gives them a list.

SDRs typically work between 8-10 hours a day in order to hit their quotas. But, the nice thing about sales is that if you are past your quota and you feel out of it one day, you can often ask to work from home, put in a 7-hour day, or take the day off. Your manager cuts you a bit more slack when you’re providing so much value. They don’t want to lose skilled salespeople.

Throughout your time as an SDR, you’ll also spend a decent amount of time training under experienced Account Executives and sales managers. You’ll shadow their calls and web demos, and also participate in mock cold calls or sales meetings with your peers. It’s like a crash course in tech sales.

Most high-level salespeople in the field, like the Enterprise Account Executives, started in the SDR role, where they learned the ropes. For a closer look at the life of an SDR, check out our article on the 8 most common SDR job responsibilities.

Sales Development Representative Salary

An SDR’s compensation consists primarily of a base salary and commission, a variable payout relative to their performance against quota. Typically SaaS companies aim to create compensation plans for their sales reps that are a 50:50 split between salary and quota-level commission.

So an SDR with a base salary of 45k per year who hits their quarterly quota of 40 booked meetings should ideally earn 45k in annual commission.

That said, the average annual earnings for an SDR is $74,665 per year, according to Glassdoor’s data. And that number includes $49,174 in base pay and $25,491 in commission, hence undermining the universality of the 50:50 rule.

This gap between base pay and commission could be for two reasons: because the majority (52%) of SDRs fail to hit their quota, or because companies don’t typically follow the 50:50 best practice.

Regardless, if you’re good at the sales development representative jobs, your earnings will far exceed the earnings of the majority of other entry-level positions, and it’s not uncommon to meet SDRs earnings over 100k in their second year.

For more on SDR compensation, and to see how much the top SaaS companies are paying their reps, check out our guide on SDR salaries.

Creating SDR Cover Letters and Resumes

Creating cover letters and resumes that are personalized to each job and company is an essential step in landing a job as a sales development rep.

The keyword there is personalized. Your resume and cover letter should express skills and experiences that are relevant to what is asked for on the job posting, and they should both be tailored to the particular company that sent out that job posting.

For example, if a company emphasized that they want someone with lots of experience on the phone, it’d be a good idea for a former customer service representative to highlight their experiences assisting customers over phone calls in their previous job. 

If it’s obvious on their website that the company is trying to push a new software product, it’d be smart to share a time when you pioneered some venture, whether that means starting a new club or actually taking a new product to market.

Hiring managers also generally want people with a specific set of traits. They want people who are entrepreneurial, persistent, hardworking, sociable, intelligent, and resilient in the face of failure.

If by writing about previous experiences, you can demonstrate that you have these qualities, you’ll stand out from the crowd of aspiring SDRs applying for the job.

As a disclaimer, you don’t need sales experience to land a job as an SDR. You can show you have the above set of traits in other ways.

For instance, you can show you’re intelligent with a good GPA. You can show your entrepreneurial spirit with a short blurb about a business you tried to start in college. You can show you’re sociable by listing that you were in Greek life or part of a club. I like to think that my summer exterior house painting job showed I was hardworking on my resume.

That said, we’ve covered this process of writing SDR cover letters and resumes in greater detail in our article titled SDR cover letter and resume best practices. Head there if you feel you need some more guidance on this part of the SDR job application process. 

The Most Common SDR Interview Questions

To nail your Sales Development Representative jobs interview you must prepare, and the best way to prepare is by writing out and practicing saying answers to the questions your hiring managers will likely ask you.

This way, you have solid, impressive answers up your sleeve before you even sit down in the interview. And you’re more likely to come across as confident and articulate when giving your answers.

Even if the manager asks you a question that wasn’t on your preparation list, there’s a high chance that it’s at least slightly related to one of the questions you practiced answering.

For example, tell me about a time you failed is similar to how do you overcome adversity? If you answered the first question in prep, use that same story to answer the new question.

This brings up a powerful point: use stories whenever you can. Specific stories about your work and life are extremely engaging, and they inspire emotions in your interviewer.

That said, here are a few questions SDRs should be able to answer in an interview:

  • Why Do You Want to Work Here?: Bring up something you learned about the company in your research (culture, mission, software) and explain why the company seems like a perfect fit for you based on your own experiences and goals. 
  • What Got You Interested in Sales?: Tell a story about when you found you realized you wanted to become an SDR. 
  • How Do You Deal with Failure?: Share a time when you failed and explain how you overcame it and changed for the better.
  • Why Should We Hire You?: Sell them why you’d be the perfect SDR for their needs (on the job posting). Also, share a differentiating factor.

Another tip is to research the company and product before the interview. That way, when you answer questions you can easily bring up information about the company in your answers.

This shows that you’re truly interested in this job, which is an indicator of future success for the company. We try hard for things we care about. It also shows you’re skilled in research, something you must do well to succeed as an SDR.

You have to know how to personalize your outreach to each lead. Relevance is one of the main determinants of whether they choose to reply positively to your outreach.

If you want to become a master of the SDR interview process, head over to our guide on the ten most common SDR interview questions, where we expand the above list and give you techniques for effectively answering each question.

3 Books That All Aspiring SDRs Should Read

Reading books about sales, the SDR role and prospecting not only helps you decide whether the SDR job is right for you. It also arms you with the knowledge you can use to impress your hiring manager and also shine at your new company.

Here are a few books to get you started:

  • How to Win Friends and Influence People: Learn how to charm, influence, and deal with people. Principles include “showing genuine interest in the person” and “thinking in terms of what the other person wants.”
  • New Sales. Simplified: This was the first SDR-focused book I read. It gave me a process I could follow for my cold calling and emailing, and that process worked wonders. Mike Weinberg teaches you how to use a lead’s pain points to book meetings.
  • Sales Development: Cracking the Code of Outbound Sales: If you want to get a deep dive into the sales development career and what it entails, read this book.

Whenever you read a sales book, it’s important to mark practices and techniques that you think will work and then apply them to your role. If you follow this procedure, you’ll be on your way to Account Executive in no time, where earnings average out at around $125,000 per year.

For further studies, check out our curated list of the 7 best SDR books to read. If you read all of them, you’ll be more knowledgeable about the SDR role than 95% of new salespeople applying for jobs as SDRs. To your benefit, this understanding will definitely show in your interviews.

Bottom Line: Sales Development Representative Jobs

Landing Sales Development Representative jobs requires some work upfront. You have to prepare for interviews, understand the role, and create resumes and cover letters. But it’s an effort worth doing, as high-performing SDRs can earn upwards of 6-figures during just their first year on the job.

If you’re excited about your new career, head over to the Sales Trax job board, a job board dedicated to helping aspiring software salespeople find the right job for them. A

And if you want to know what your future holds if you get a job as an SDR, read our ultimate guide on the software sales career path.