What Sales Development Job Descriptions Are Really Telling You

If you’re dipping your toe in the water, and want to start a career in tech sales, you will likely begin as a Sales Development Rep (SDR). Companies and hiring managers do a fabulous job telling you precisely what they want in a candidate. But are you listening and watching for the signs?

“Success happens when preparation meets opportunity.” Vince Lombardi, Zig Ziglar, and countless others

Learning to match or complete their “vision” for the role (job description) with your “offering” (qualities, skills, and brand) will separate you from the crowd and likely secure that offer letter.

Fortunately, for SDR candidates, it’s a buyers market. Companies everywhere are scaling their Sales Development teams and recruiting in droves.

Ask yourself:

  • What if the company invites me to interview with them?
  • How prepared am I to crush the interview process?
  • Have I really studied what it is they’re seeking?
  • Is my background and track record appealing at all?
  • Have I put myself in the best possible light?
  • Do I really want to sell to their prospects? Who are their prospects anyway?

A closer look at tech companies currently hiring SDRs will reveal some patterns. They all require similar responsibilities, and search for the same timeless qualities in their salespeople – integrity, passion, positive attitude, work ethic, high energy, sharp intelligence, and hustle, to name a few.

You Won’t Hear This From Hiring Companies but They Also Want to See:

Your Potential

Sales Development leaders are responsible for driving the revenue pipeline, as well as sustaining the talent pipeline. They want SDRs who will grow their careers within the company. When they learn more about you, do they see a future Account Executive?

Consider this: State your goals and objectives. Tell your recruiter and those who interview you, “Two years from now, I intend to be an Account Executive at this company.” Show them (via your resume) how you’ve already gone from a “lower” role to a “higher” role (i.e. you’ve taken on more responsibility) and what it took to get there. Reveal your potential to keep climbing.

Proof of Repeatable Contributions

How often did you produce in school, on the field, at your church, or otherwise? If you have prior sales experience, did you make quota more than once? Can the company rely on you to consistently contribute value vs. consume value?

Consider this: If you have prior sales experience, be specific. In the interview, talk about the ASP (average sales price) at your last company, share exactly what quota was, how it was measured, and how you achieved plan.

If this would be your first company or sales position, talk about how many fundraising calls you had to make for your school, what the demographic was that you called, what the average donation was and how you helped increase it x%. Whatever the previous role, discuss how you drove growth.

A Culture Fit

No company wants to make the wrong sales hire. Will your co-workers get along with you? Are you able to live and work in harmony with colleagues and peers? Will you lift the spirit in every room you enter, or suck the life out of it? Big difference.

Consider this: It’s 2015, for crying out loud. Technology has enabled you to find out anything you need to know about your desired companies. For example, want to learn more about a prospective company’s culture and gauge whether you’re a fit? Maybe they’ve posted a video somewhere. Video is as close as you’ll get to seeing and hearing people in person, so take advantage of it!

What Companies and Hiring Managers Need From SDRs

SDRs are often the first ones on the scene, the first face or voice of the company’s brand. It’s imperative these timeless qualities shine through you. Plus, you’ll rely on them throughout your career. How good you are in these areas and what are ways you can improve them?

Timeless Qualities

Demonstrate and discuss these qualities in your interviews. Make sure your resume and LinkedIn profile show them, too. (It’s important to note that your resume and LinkedIn profile complement each other vs. repeat each other).

Professionalism and Tact

Prove how you hold yourself to high standards. Lead by example. Stay classy: Look and act like a polished professional. Exude self and situational awareness.

Do this: Close your eyes. Visualize living a life of lower standards. Instead of leading, just follow. Graze on the hillside…consuming, consuming, and consuming value, while contributing and sharing nothing in return. Don’t dress sharp. Just wait for things to happen rather than make things happen. Now open your eyes – does it make sense to approach the interview process with that mindset?

Energy and Self-Drive

Prove how you hustle. Show when you’ve taken something from x to y in a given time frame. Bring your A game – every day. Be the best version of yourself, or risk sacrificing your gifts, strengths, and successful career.

Do this: Most of the SDR job descriptions look and ask for the same stuff. And most SDRs bring the same stuff to the table. Not you: you’re the one that’s different from the rest, the one that’s on a mission.

You’re a grown up now, and are at the helm of your own career. Get excited. Stand up straight. Walk in looking people in the eyes, being the first to say hello, giving them the benefit of the doubt, being eager to learn and eager to share. That type of attitude is infectious. Hiring managers will embrace that energy and want it around their teams.

Organization and Efficiency

Prove that you’ve got your act together. Do you think about getting things done, or do you just get things done? How well can you discern between what’s urgent and what’s important?

Do this: Provide examples of how you plan (or would plan) your days, weeks, or months. Show the hiring manager how you roll.

Exceptional Communication Skills

Demonstrate your active listening skills. Show how you properly spell words and piece sentences together; and how you’re concise, yet effective, when writing emails and social media posts. Articulate your point when speaking. Prove you’re accessible to people and that you follow-up fast.

Do this: Research the interviewers, the company, the industry, and the competition. Write down key insights, takeaways, and questions you’d want answered in an interview. This will help you formulate thoughts and smooth out the flow of your conversation. Send a brief recap email, plus a handwritten thank you card after each interview.


Talk about why you love sales, technology, and how businesses work. Whether it’s your family, your income, your friends, whatever…you should know your purpose, and know what gets you out of bed every morning.

Do this: Apply for SDR roles at companies you actually want to represent. Then tell them why. If you want to “Change the Way the World Works,” for example, and believe people should work where they’re celebrated, not tolerated.

Sales Development leaders need these qualities the most from their teams. Pay close attention to qualities mentioned in each job description. They are hints to what the company’s most successful SDRs are like.

Required SDR Responsibilities

Find the best ways to handle and model these responsibilities. A good start is to ask about the top SDRs on the team, and ask what it is they do on a consistent basis.

Research, Identify, and Prospect for New Clients

Get familiar with who the company sells to and why the company’s offering helps businesses. Find out how trigger events are uncovered. Ask how the existing SDRs effectively approach prospects today.

Not sure how? Visit the hiring company’s website. Find the “News” or “Press” or “Customers” or “Investor Relations” pages. That’s usually where you’ll locate the company’s press releases, hot customer logos, partners, and common terms. You’ll learn why the company’s offering means something to businesses. Keep in mind: If you investigate well when preparing for your interview, it will transfer well to your job as an SDR.

Make Lots of Phone Calls and Send Lots of Emails

Follow-up promptly when people inquire about your company or offering. Ask if the existing team uses an auto-dialer or an email tracking tool; and if there’s an efficient way to manage the CRM environment (logging tasks, building and running reports, importing or exporting data).

Not sure how? Most Sales Development teams expect you to make 60-80 calls a day or more. If that scares you, then you need to find another profession. However, if you see the call volume as fuel for your revenue pipeline, which fuels your bank account, then proceed.

Schedule Quality Appointments and Meetings

Approach appointments like you own your own business. Every conversation you have will require your full attention. Write down 15 intelligent questions you’ll ask every prospect. Practice incorporating the questions into a conversation.

Not sure how? SDRs sell the meeting, not the product. Prospects agree to meet with you when you can solve their problems and give them answers. It also helps to have credibility and rapport. All of this starts with you asking intelligent questions. One of the best lists of “smart questions” out there is from Jeffrey Gitomer.

Create and Develop New Opportunities (Add Prospects to the Pipeline)

Coach Don Shula said, “Win early and win often.” Walk into your new role with warm leads in-hand, and you’ll set the tone as a fabulous hire. Help your Account Executive convert those leads to new business, and you’ll set the tone as a player. Find the low-hanging fruit and ways to create revenue opportunities from it.

So much we can talk about, but you need to apply for gigs right now. If you have decided to pursue a career in tech sales, develop a student’s mind. Read the SDR job descriptions in their entirety. Learn to fully comprehend the role’s key qualities and essential responsibilities, so you can best position yourself for the opportunity.

Helpful information? If so, share it with people who can benefit from it. Still have questions or need more insight? Leave a comment or find a way to reach me.

Ralph Barsi leads the Senior Director, Global Demand Center at ServiceNow. He was named one the most influential inside sales professionals in the industry two years in a row. Ralph is also a frequent contributor to Sales Hacker, as a writer, speaker, and instructor to salespeople of all levels.

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