If you have an interest in sales and impressive interpersonal skills, you should definitely consider becoming a sales development representative. This is a very exciting career where you’ll get to meet industry leaders and develop long-term relationships.
If you want to learn how to become a sales development representative, this comprehensive guide will show you everything you need to know about this career. We cover the most common education pathways, average salaries, job outlook, and common job requirements.
What Is a Sales Development Representative?
A sales development representative (SDR) is an entry-level job in the sales team where you will be in charge of finding potential customers and arranging appointments with them in the hopes of generating leads. If your meeting turns out to be successful, you will redirect them to the account executive, who is the professional responsible for closing deals.
Sales Development Representative Job Description
A sales rep’s role is to set up appointments with prospective clients. This includes doing cold emailing, cold calling, LinkedIn research, and more. You will have to do some research to find these prospective clients and might need to meet up with them multiple times to determine their interest in the company.
You will also be in charge of educating potential clients about your products to ensure they are fully informed while they make their decisions. Yet, this is a junior sales role, so you must hand them off to the account executive once you’ve noticed some interest in them.
Sales Development Representative Salary and Job Outlook
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average salary of a sales representative is $65,420. Meanwhile, ZipRecruiter puts the average salary for a technology sales representative at $49,680. The number of job openings for these professionals in manufacturing and wholesale is expected to grow by five percent in the upcoming years, BLS estimates.
Top Reasons to Become a Sales Development Representative in 2021
A sales development rep’s role is a great way to start a career in the sales industry. It will help you develop your network and start building your sales skills. We take a look at these and other benefits of the job below.
- You’ll develop long-term relationships with prospective clients. One of the best aspects of becoming a sales rep is that you’ll practice networking. Even if you don’t want to stay in this role forever, this is a very transferable skill that will help you in other industries.
- You’ll build important skills. Becoming a business development representative will help you develop the skills you need to succeed in the sales world. It is an entry-level position, but you’ll get to practice fundamental sales tasks like research, sending cold emails, and talking to prospective clients.
- It has a good salary for a beginner position. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median wage for all occupations is $56,310, while the average sales rep earns above $65,000.
Sales Development Representative Job Requirements
There aren’t very strict job requirements to enter the sales team as a sales development representative. However, some companies look for candidates with have a college degree, sales experience, and fundamental soft skills like emotional intelligence and good communication.
- Bachelor’s degree. A college degree isn’t always necessary for this role, however, some companies will require you to have a Bachelor’s Degree in Business, Marketing, Economics, or a related field.
- Communication skills. Soft skills might be the most important aspect of this role. To become a sales development representative, you will need to be good at communication, active listening, and logical thinking. You will also need to have high emotional intelligence and a strong sense of discipline.
- Experience. Having a couple of years of experience in the sales process will help you start a career as a sales development representative, but previous experience isn’t a requirement for every company.
Types of Sales Development Representative Careers
Once you have gained experience and sufficiently developed the necessary skills, there are a number of job opportunities that will be available to you. Below, we’ll give details about some of the most common sales-related jobs.
Outbound Sales Development Representative
Sales development representatives can specialize in outbound or inbound sales. Outbound sales refers to reaching out to potential customers by cold emailing or cold calling, with the goal of establishing a conversation with them.
Inbound Sales Development Representative
Inbound sales are the opposite of outbound sales: instead of the company reaching out to potential clients, it is the prospect that establishes contact. Inbound sales representatives develop strategies to attract prospective clients through branding and content.
An account executive finds prospective clients and works to close a deal with them. To do this they must have an ongoing relationship with these clients, negotiate with them, and brainstorm creative ideas with the sales team.
The sales engineer meets up with customers and potential clients to discuss the technical specifications of the product or services. Once they reach the negotiation phase, they discuss the clients’ needs with the development or manufacturing team to see how the product can be improved to satisfy the customer.
Sales management plays a leading role in an organization. The responsibilities of a sales manager can include everything from motivating the sales team and evaluating the group’s performance to creating new strategies to improve client satisfaction.
Sales Development Representative Meaning: What Does a Sales Development Representative Do?
There is a lot of work involved in getting prospective clients. The duties of a sales development representative (SDR) can include everything from researching market trends to writing cold emails. These professionals may also be charged with having conversations with prospective clients until they can be handed over to the account executive.
Cold Calls and Emails
Cold calling and emailing is the act of directly calling multiple people or sending unsolicited messages to generate sales leads. The process of sending a cold email starts with developing a catchy email template that will get the client’s attention, while people engaging in cold calling usually have a script prepared. Both practices are pretty effective. Cold emailing is faster and easier, but cold calling will result in a faster response.
Educate Prospective Clients
Another duty that sales development reps have is educating prospective clients about the product or service they are trying to sell. To answer any question the customer may have, SDRs must constantly communicate with the manufacturing or development team.
Research is a crucial aspect of sales operations. It consists of investigating potential clients to identify sales opportunities. This research can involve analyzing a competitor’s clients or finding prospective customers in LinkedIn, among other practices.
Essential Sales Development Representative Skills
To become a sales development representative (SDR), you need to focus on soft skills like communication, logical thinking, and resilience. Sales people must also have some fundamental hard skills to help them succeed in this process. Below, we take a close look at the most important skills to be a successful sales development representative.
Communication is essential for a career in sales. These professionals need to be able to have effective and engaging interactions with prospects. SDRs must be able to educate prospective clients about the company’s products without losing their interest.
Outbound prospecting is the process of identifying your target clients and contacting them directly to introduce your company and its products and services. This is often done by dividing potential customers into different categories and creating email templates for each group.
As a sales development representative, you may also be in charge of inbound prospects. Inbound prospecting consists of creating engaging content for prospective customers, such as personalized videos.
You may also be in charge of content marketing, developing branding strategies, and improving the current communication channels. This will enhance the relationships with prospects and encourage them to buy your products.
How Long Does It Take to Become a Sales Development Representative?
To become a sales development representative (SDR), you don’t necessarily need a college degree. You can become an SDR with your high school diploma or even a GED. This means you could become an SDR in just a couple of months if you want to. If you opt for a college degree, you will need two to four years depending on the type of degree you are after.
Can a Coding Bootcamp Help Me Become a Sales Development Representative?
A coding bootcamp can be an excellent way to get you started in your sales journey. Schools such as Flockjay offer tech sales programs where you can learn the fundamental skills you need for a role like SDR. A bootcamp program will help you learn other technical principles to succeed in a tech career.
Can I Become a Sales Development Representative from Home?
Yes, you can certainly learn sales fundamentals from home and become a sales development rep. Flockjay, for example, offers online tech sales courses that can help you land a job as an SDR. You will also find no shortage of sales techniques courses in online learning platforms like Udemy, edX, or Coursera.
How to Become a Sales Development Representative: A Step-by-Step Guide
There isn’t a pre-ordained set of steps you must follow to become a sales development representative (SDR). The important thing is that you work on your interpersonal skills and learn how to adapt to a fast-paced environment. However, if you’re interested in knowing how most people become an SDR, below we describe the most common path.
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Step 1: Obtain a High School Diploma or Equivalent
Most employers do not require a university education when hiring sales development representatives. However, having a high school diploma or a high school equivalency credential like the GED tends to be a requirement.
Step 2: Get Career Training
The next step you might want to consider is career training to help you develop strong communication skills and a deep understanding of sales activities. You can do this by earning a college degree or by joining a sales course.
Step 3: Start the Job Hunt
Once you are prepared for the sales world, it is time to start submitting your resume. These jobs are entry-level, so most companies won’t require you to have any previous experience. Just make sure to showcase your communication and sales skills.
Best Schools and Education for a Sales Development Representative Career
Getting professional training is a great way to kickstart your career in sales. You can do this by earning a bachelor’s degree, taking an online course, or by getting a technical diploma. Below we will describe some of the education options you have if you want to become a sales development rep.
Sales Development Representative Bootcamps
Many bootcamps out there offer tech sales programs. Some of the best tech sales bootcamps out there are Careerist, Flockjay, and SV Academy. The good thing about bootcamps is that they’re affordable, short, and provide career services to help you find a job easily after graduation.
Vocational schools, also known as technical schools, are mostly for skilled trades training. This doesn’t include sales, so you might struggle with finding a program that suits your needs. If sales if your calling, we recommend other educational avenues like bootcamps, community colleges, or universities.
Sales programs at a community college go beyond sales fundamentals. They teach you all about the financial and legal aspects of the sales process. These programs are also short, so you won’t need to spend more than two years obtaining your degree.
Sales Development Representative Degrees
A college degree in sales or business will open many doors in your career. Even though not many companies require you to have a bachelor’s or associate degree, it can be a great way to stand out among the other candidates. A college degree can open up many opportunities so don’t underestimate its power.
The Most Important Sales Development Representative Certificates
Sales certifications and certificates aren’t a mandatory requirement for most companies. However, having a professional certificate can validate your sales skills and move your resume to the front of the pile. Here are some of the leading certificates for this career.
Certified Sales Development Representative
The Certified Sales Development Representative (CSDR) accreditation is awarded by The American Association of Inside Sales Professionals (AA-ISP). It covers entry-level sales fundamentals and costs $575-$720. This certificate proves that you can generate leads, create sales strategies, and develop long-term communication with clients.
Certified Inside Sales Professional
The AA-ISP also awards the Certified Inside Sales Professional (CISP), a more advanced sales certificate in case you want to advance to a higher position. It covers topics like closing deals and email etiquette. To be eligible for this certificate, you must have some sales experience and pay the fee, $1,020 fee for non-members or $875 for members.
Inbound Sales Certification
As we mentioned earlier, inbound leads are crucial in the sales department. This certification by industry leader HubSpot demonstrates you have a mastery of inbound sales strategies using different techniques like content marketing, conversational growth strategy, and social media management. The course takes only a couple of hours and is completely free.
How to Prepare for Your Sales Development Representative Job Interview
Your interview is the perfect opportunity to demonstrate excellent communication skills, active listening, and attention to detail. This is also a great moment to showcase your abilities by talking about previous challenges you’ve faced in sales and how you were able to overcome them. Practice the following questions to prepare for your next interview.
Sales Development Representative Job Interview Practice Questions
- What is your motivation to be in the tech industry?
- What are your strategies to handle a difficult prospect?
- What would you like to accomplish in this role?
- What do you think is the most difficult challenge that you would face in this role? How would you address it?
Should I Become a Sales Development Representative in 2021?
Yes, you should. A sales development representative role is an excellent way to develop your career in sales and build transferable skills that will come in handy wherever your career takes you. If you have high aspirations and need to build your experience, this role will set you on the path to success in the sales industry.
Sales Development Representative FAQ
Yes, you definitely can become a sales development representative without a degree. It’s not a mandatory requirement in most companies. However, you do need to have a high school diploma and outstanding sales skills.
It’s not hard to become a sales development representative considering you don’t need to have a formal education degree. However, you need to have a talent for sales and a hard work ethic to demonstrate that you can generate leads.
An SDR role can be exhausting and challenging but is very rewarding once you get clients’ attention. It can take hard work, but you will eventually develop persuasion skills and easily generate sales.
The average sales development representative makes 50 to 65 calls to prospective customers every day. The number varies depending on the type of product they are selling.
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