Why becoming an SDR is the start of a great career

Mar 12, 2021

SDR is traditionally the first job you do in a SaaS sales team. But, you won’t be an SDR forever. What can you do after that? Well, just about anything! Let’s find out more.

Sales Development Reps (or SDRs as we’ll call them from now on) are usually the newest starters in a SaaS sales team. The SDR’s seats are where you go to learn the trade, talking to dozens of prospects a day, building relationships and connecting your product to their pain points. The thing about being an SDR is that it doesn’t last forever – most SDRs stay in their position for between one and two years. So, what happens next?

In this article, we’ll look at the doors that open if you succeed in your SDR role. You’ll see that becoming an SDR is the start of a great career. Let’s go.

Account Executives

The most common career move after achieving success as an SDR is becoming an AE, either in the same company or moving on somewhere else.

AEs work further down the sales funnel than SDRs. After SDRs have started the relationship with the prospect and made them consider their product could be the solution to their problems, they hand the prospect over to the AE, who takes things up a level. The AE takes the prospect through a product demo and answers all of their questions. Then, they will negotiate with the prospect and close the deal, turning them into a customer.

This is an attractive career move because you’re at the business end of the sales funnel as an AE. There is also the opportunity to earn commission if you hit your sales targets. After you make it as an AE, your next move could be into sales leadership.

SDR Manager

If you’re a successful SDR and interested in leadership, many sales teams will have an SDR Manager position, or maybe they’ll create one just for you.

SDR Managers manage the SDR team on a day-to-day basis. They act as a bridge between the SDR team and the VP of Sales, who may be too busy to look after SDRs’ unique needs.

SDR Managers help their team improve with coaching, also by going through calls and getting granular with how they can do better. They may also help with hiring.

The SDR Manager position is also a foot on the leadership ladder. If you believe you have what it takes to be an inspiring leader, it’s a great place to start.

Outside of sales

As you get to know your company as an SDR, you might decide that you would prefer to take on a role outside of sales. If you prove that you can be a success as an SDR, there’s no reason that you couldn’t be a success in another department:

  • Customer success – helping customers gain all the benefits your product offers, essential when it comes round to renewal time
  • Marketing – the stage before SDRs on the funnel, marketers create content and run campaigns that educate the marketplace about the benefits of your product

While these are the most common inter-department moves, you could also easily move into the product team, finance or anywhere else.

You may also decide that you want a move away from SaaS sales (I don’t know why, but you might!). As a successful SDR, you now have excellent communication skills, you know how to build trust and have a strong work ethic. With those skills, you can do anything.

What you need to demonstrate

If you want to be a success as an SDR and take the next step on your career path, here are the traits you need to demonstrate:

  • Consistent results – whatever metrics you are targeted on as an SDR, you must consistently exceed them
  • Knowledge – you must have an in-depth understanding of your industry and the product you sell as you want to be seen as a consultant by your prospects, not a salesperson
  • Skill with prospects – as an AE, you need to negotiate and close deals, this means you must be an expert at selling value to your prospects
  • The right behaviours – you should stand out amongst your peers as a hard-worker and an achiever
  • Eagerness to learn – you’ve made it as an SDR, but the next step is a different matter. You must be excited to learn more and be reactive to feedback


Will Koning

He has worked in some of the UK’s most successful start-ups in the UK over the last 10 years.

He is passionate about Sales and disruptive Technology. In particular, elevating the Sales development industry in the UK to new levels.

Outside of work, Will spends his time split between London and Folkestone in Kent where you’re likely to find him sampling English beers and walking his dog by the sea,

Follow him on LinkedIn here

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