Hi, I’m Alex! I’ve been working in sales for innovative startups like SoftBank Robotics and large corporations like NBC Universal for years. Now, I work as an industry mentor at Pathrise. I help people land great sales jobs through workshops and 1-on-1 mentorship. Check out my article to learn how to find sales development representative jobs.
A great sales career has to start somewhere. Despite huge growth in the tech sales field and many positions going unfilled, recent grads with little experience still struggle to find their first development representative (SDR) job. Even entry level job listings seem to require experience these days. But where else can applicants get experience except an entry level job? This paradox can make finding your first SDR job tricky, especially for recent grads. Worse, other university grads may already have summer internships and established relationships with employers. How can you find a sales development representative job without work history or connections?
Based on our experience helping 1,000+ students land their dream job in tech, we have compiled a list of top tips and strategies to help you find sales development representative jobs, stand out from other applicants, and ace your interview.
1. Find the right sales development representative role for you
Entry level sales jobs are not created equal. While some sales skills are universal, each SDR role requires a very special set of skills. Luckily for you, you can see what companies want by reading the job description carefully. Identify sales development representative roles that match your abilities. When you apply for positions that fit your background, you Improve your chances of getting the job.
In general, sales development representative jobs fall into 3 categories: outbound SDR, inbound SDR, and enterprise SDR. Outbound SDRs tend to be recent grads because employers emphasize hustle over job history for these positions. Duties include outreach, mass emailing, and making colds calls. Apply for outbound SDR roles if you are a high-energy sales professional who excels at tireless outreach.
Inbound sales development representatives work with warm leads such as contact form submissions, email subscriptions, and phone call inquiries. Inbound SDRs should be persuasive and compelling, with strong communication skills. Apply for these roles if you’re a wiz with words and excel at pitching.
Enterprise SDRs, or strategic SDRs, map out potential customers to create personalized cold emails, usually based on their LinkedIn profiles. These roles involve cold calling and many of the job duties of outbound SDR, but often require more strategy and finesse. Apply for these roles if analytical skills are your strong suit. If you’d rather work with data to craft a few thoughtful email strategies rather than a flurry of individual emails, enterprise SDR roles may be for you.
2. Study technical skills and concepts
While different roles require different sales skills, sales knowledge is universal. All good sales development representatives must understand lead generation, prospecting, and lead qualification. SDRs capture and assess leads to pass down the pipeline. This means that SDRs need to be masters of the sales pipeline, understanding each step in the funnel. While SDRs don’t necessarily have to be amazing closers, they should be highly persuasive, able to write a good cold email, and make strong cold calls on a daily basis. Prepare for more technical questions at your sales interviews by reviewing the following:
- Sales pipelines
- Cold lead strategies
- Warm lead strategies
- Needs assessments
- Rapport building strategies
- Sales pitching language
- Calls to action
Carefully study these fundamentals so that you can comfortably explain how you approach each one.
3. Represent yourself with a compelling sales rep resume and online profile
Recruiters only see your resume, not your actual experience. Crafting a compelling sales resume with a strong LinkedIn profile that shows off your skills can help you stand out from other applicants. After all, great sales experience isn’t great if recruiters can’t get through the resume.
Instead of using passive statements that explain grunt work in your resume, try impact statements. Use exact numbers and percentages to quantify your accomplishments and explain how they made a difference to your employer. Did you close any big deals? How many clients have you acquired? By what percentage did you grow accounts? Using concrete figures and facts on your resume shows attention to detail as well as an understanding of how your work actually made a difference.
Consider listing the scale of your sales and the specific strategies that you used to grow accounts. Even if your sales weren’t massive, quantification paints a vivid picture for employers. Experience means very little if you don’t take the time to explain what the experience actually meant for the company. A well-written resume with well-explained sales impact statements can help you stand out and give you a major edge in the job search.
To paint a fuller picture of your previous work experiences and skills, optimize your LinkedIn profile with links to past projects, endorsements, and detailed explanations of past sales work. Online profiles give you more space to flesh out past experiences with links and more in depth explanations since you do not have to keep it to 1 page. Online profiles can also humanize you to recruiters and put all your work in one place.
4. Sell yourself directly to recruiters, hiring managers, and fellow grads
Sales development representatives persuade strangers with cold calls and emails every single day. Writing a strong cold email to recruiters, hiring managers, and fellow grads can not only show you have initiative, but also prove you have the persuasion skills to make a great SDR. You can use LinkedIn to find the recruiters and hiring managers who will be evaluating your resume and portfolio, just like you would conduct customer research as a sales development rep.
Utilize warm leads by reaching out to recruiters and hiring managers with whom you have a connection. Do you have a shared interest? A common city or school? Personalizing your pitch will grab the recruiter’s attention and prove you took the time to do your research. Just like a sales development rep can find an email address using tools like Clearbit and Leadfinder, you can use these tools to find recruiters and reach out directly. Or, use our guide to learn how to reach out to recruiters, which includes contact information for many team members at top tech companies, including Google recruiters, Facebook recruiters, Stripe recruiters, and more.
Another option for recent grads is networking with your fellow alumni. If your university or sales bootcamp offered career services, try reaching out and introducing yourself again as a recent grad. Explain that you are actively looking for a job and don’t be afraid to follow up. In both your job search and career as an SDR, following up is key. In addition, many universities and sales bootcamps have alumni groups on Facebook, Slack, and LinkedIn. Try connecting with potential employers on these Linkedin groups, stressing any personal connections you may have as well.
5. Research the company to stand out in behavioral interviews
While your skills and attitude are important for behavioral interviews, understanding the company’s culture, values, mission, and needs can be just as critical to landing the job. You should research the company mission, history, culture, values, and, of course, products to explain how your skills and goals fit the company. For example, as a sales rep you may be tempted to talk about being knowledgeable in many different areas to connect with many different kinds of customers. Having a broad range of experiences and skills may seem like the perfect value to mention at a knowledge-based company like Google.
However, one of Google’s key values is actually “It’s best to do one thing really, really well” than to be competent at many different things. This means stressing a skillset like “deep focus” or “attention to detail” will be especially valuable as it matches their job listing and company values. Not only will understanding that Google values specialization help you stand out, but it helps you understand their other values such as focusing on the user. Be sure to conduct thorough research so your elevator pitch doesn’t contradict their values before you even get into the behavioral interview questions.
Check out our list of 47 behavioral questions from real tech companies to get a sense of common question types and how you can personalize the answers for your next sales interview.
6. Brainstorm smart questions for your interviewer
While preparing for a recruiter’s questions can make a world of difference, it’s impossible to predict exactly what you will be asked. However, the questions you ask at the end of an interview are entirely within your control. Asking thoughtful questions can demonstrate your interest and show off your knowledge of the company. Plus, you know you will end the interview on the right foot. While your questions should be tailored to the role and company, check out these questions to ask in a sales interview for some suggestions.
With these strategies and suggestions, you’re ready to find sales development representative jobs, stand out in the application process, and ace interviews. If you would like to further optimize your job search by working 1-on-1 with a mentor at each step of the process, join Pathrise.