Why Sales Development Reps Make Big Impacts At Startups

Posted in: sales, b2b sales

Sales development reps (SDRs) are key members of any sales team, but their impact varies depending on company size.

Sales development reps (SDRs) are the entry level role in any tech sales company. These reps are tasked with understanding the needs of people who signed up for a trial and determining if there’s a potential sales opportunity for an account executive (AE) to run with. The business gets a rep to sort through inbound “warm” interest and SDRs pick up valuable skills toward their progression to a quota-carrying AE role.

At large tech companies, the playbook is already in place - these are your leads, this is the messaging, and here’s who takes them next once you finish with them. Go! Things are very different at a startup, where SDRs pick up a much broader skill set to understand product development, business process, and how to be an AE.

These are the top three areas that sales development reps can expect to develop in a startup, as opposed to larger tech companies:

1) Real, tangible ability to impact the product

At a startup, the sales team works closely with product/engineering teams to own product development. Having 20+ conversations per day with inbound trial sign ups is fertile ground to get to know the customers better, understand their needs, and relay feedback to engineering.

Truly understanding a prospect’s business challenges and its implications for the company's product roadmap takes a high level of intelligence. Noting feature requests doesn’t get you there. Reps who execute well in this role have a huge impact by bringing the customer directly into product development.

2) Get outside of your comfort zone

On July 22nd, we were doing a huge press push to announce product updates and our funding announcement. Our SDR (Pat) knew that the onslaught of trial sign ups would be way more than he could handle, so putting better processes into place was an absolute must.

Our SDR took it on himself to optimize our drip campaign to have varying versions going out depending on the role that the trial signup had. No easy task: Create content, plan frequency, and understand the implementation with our email automation tools.

3) Hone skills early for a quick promotion

Whether you’re Salesforce, LinkedIn, Box, or DataFox the reason you hire sales development reps is because you think they’ll make awesome, revenue-producing AEs down the line. There’s so much to learn as an SDR, but becoming a quota-carrying AE is the next step.

At a startup, sales development reps get involved in the full sales cycle much more quickly than at larger companies. Every customer matters and needs a lot of attention. With the sales team running lean, there are natural opportunities for an SDR to take point running small deals.

We saw this happen in month two with our first SDR hire. Bandwidth was tight, so Pat took the initiative to close two small deals with AE guidance through the entire deal cycle. Great experience for a future AE, happy customer, and new revenue for the startup.

If you want to see how different the sales role looks at a startup, join us!