Is a Sales Development Representative (or Business Development Representative) job the best place to start a career in software sales? I get asked this question all the time and the short answer is, it depends.
Where are you in your career currently, experience wise? Do you have numerous years of experience in a different industry and you’re looking to transition into the software sales space? Or are you a current college student or recent graduate.
If your response is the later and you’re a current college student or recent graduate, then ABSOLUTELY, a Sales Development Representative position is, in my opinion, the best place to begin a career in software sales.
Let’s go over the reasons why I think a Sales Development Representative (SDR or BDR position for short) is the best place for young professionals to kick of a career in software sales.
The naming conventions for “Sales Development Representatives” or “Business Development Representatives” isn’t always the same at every company. Some companies refer to these positions as their “Recent Graduate Sales Academy” or “Class Of Sales”, it could really be all over the map. For the purpose of this discussion though, SDR and BDR’s are the most common name for entry level sales professionals and will be the most common positions you’ll find during a job search.
Why a Sales Development role is the best place to start in Software Sales
Let’s kick off this discussion by saying that I started by career in Software Sales as a Business Development Representative at a company called NetSuite. I didn’t know it at the time, but the experience of working as a BDR was a career altering one for me, due to the connections I made and the knowledge I took in.
Low Pressure Learning/Sales Environment
In my opinion, a Sales Development program is fantastic because you are in a role where there isn’t a ton of pressure to hit revenue metrics. The majority of SDR/BDR programs I’ve seen, the main responsibility of the rep is to set qualified meetings for Account Executives, not to influence revenue. As someone who currently “carries a quota”, I can definitely speak to the high pressure of having a real revenue number floating above your head on a daily basis.
For an SDR, that simply isn’t the case. You’re really in the program to set meetings for Account Executives, learn as much about the product as you can and prepare yourself for your next role (promotion). Sure, some companies probably put a lot of pressure on their SDRs to hit goals, but it’s still better than starting in a hard-core sales position on day one where you’re carrying a legitimate quota.
Ability to make Connections and Network
Throughout many companies I’ve seen, a Sales Development program has a high degree of visibility internally. You, quite literally, are the next generation of sales talent at the company, and there are many opportunities to build your network at the company.
In a Sales Development program, you often have the opportunity to work with senior sales reps and leadership throughout the organization, providing you with a chance to learn from the best and showcase your abilities. In my time as a BDR, I had the opportunity to work with NetSuite’s Global Enterprise team, working under three Global Enterprise Account Executives who sold into Fortune 500 accounts.
Maybe you’re thinking, ehhhh, I get to work with senior people? Wrong, don’t think like that.
In my time as a BDR, I supported one of the largest deals ever closed at the company (an 8-figure deal), which seriously built up my internal brand. The experience I had as a BDR directly led to my promotion internally (duh) as well as multiple job offers externally as well from people I interacted with as a BDR.