Sales Development Representatives
Exploring this Job
Read books and magazines about sales to learn more about the field. One useful book is Sales 101: From Finding Leads and Closing Techniques to Retaining Customers and Growing Your Business, an Essential Primer on How to Sell, by Wendy Connick. Some high schools have sales or marketing clubs you can join, and you should take as many classes in these fields as possible.
Develop a real or imaginary product or service, and create a pitch that explains what it is, what it does, and how it could help a customer save time or money. Present this pitch to your marketing teacher, your parents, or friends who are interested in marketing and sales. Ask them to grade your presentation and to tell you what made them want to or not want to purchase your product or service.
Participate in internships, volunteerships, and part-time positions in sales and marketing to build your skills, learn about careers in the field, and build your network.
Sales development representatives are responsible for the initial steps in the sales process. They conduct research to identify sales prospects, contact promising prospects to convince them to purchase their company’s products and services, and pass along qualified prospects to account executives, who complete the sales process. Sales development representatives typically report to the sales or marketing departments at their companies.
The first step in the sales process is sales prospecting. The SDR conducts research to identify promising candidates who may purchase their company’s products or services. Sales development representatives use social media (especially LinkedIn), Web searches, trade publications, visits to a company’s Web site, and other sources to gather information about prospects. They carefully review the information to determine if the business, other organization, or individual would be a good fit for their company’s products or services. Sales development representatives also learn about potential customers via sales leads that have been initiated (e.g., filling out a request for more information, signing up for a webinar) by people who are interested in their company’s products or services.
Once they have identified sales prospects, the sales development representative reaches out to the prospect via e-mail, telephone calls, social media, LinkedIn connections, direct mail, in-person events, and other methods. These activities take up a lot of their time. In 2018, SDRs conducted an average of 108 prospecting activities per day (with most occurring on the phone or via e-mail, but also through social media, postal mailings, text messages, and online chats), according to the State of Sales Development study of 320 companies by InsideSales.com. These activities resulted in an average of 11 conversations with sales prospects a day.
During the sales prospecting phase, SDRs follow a sales cadence, a repeatable sequence of communication steps (e-mail, social media, calls/phone messages, etc.) that gives them an organizational framework to follow with each prospect. The sales cadence is especially important when the SDR is managing a large number of sales prospects. They adjust the sales cadence periodically to reflect the most-successful methods of reaching prospects.
Once they have made contact with a sales prospect or lead, the SDR learns about his or her company’s needs, project budget, and other details that will help them provide more information to the prospect. Then they educate the prospect about their company’s products or services. They answer questions about the capabilities of their company’s products or services, their features and benefits, the similarities and differences with competing products or services, the experiences of current or past customers, pricing, and the next steps in the purchase process. They use their sales acumen, power of persuasion, expertise, and enthusiasm to encourage the prospect to purchase their company’s products or services.
During these conversations, the SDR seeks to determine if the prospect is qualified to be passed along to the account executive. They assess the prospect’s fit with their company’s products or services based on budget, timeline, customer needs, and other criteria. If the sales development representative has concerns regarding any of these criteria, he or she will work with the prospect until they meet the qualification criteria (or determines that they are not qualified to be passed along to the account executive). When the criteria has been met, the SDR connects the prospect with the account executive, who works to close the deal.
Sales development representatives meet frequently with account executives to discuss their ongoing efforts to attract potential customers and pass along hot prospects. In 2018, 68.6 percent of SDRs met with accounts executives at least once a week, according to the State of Sales Development study by InsideSales.com. About 20 percent met with them daily.