Sales Development Representative (SDR) – The New “it” Job In Startups?

business ideas

Google trends definitely seems to think so. But what is a sales development representative?

Listen to this article for free by clicking on the SoundCloud widget below:

If you run to google, SDR stands for either special drawing rights, or software defined radio. So that’s definitely not it!

But there’s another meaning and it’s growing like crazy. An SDR is a job title and if you spend a bit of time around SAAS startups, that’s all you ever hear about. 

What is an SDR?

It’s all about converting clients. There used to be 2 types of client acquisition for software products: 

A - Outbound: you would call businesses to try and sell them your product

B - Inbound: a client calls you because he wants to buy your product.

The SAAS startup model has created a 3rd type which is somewhere in the middle. Their business acquisition funnel looks like this :

1 - Generate Leads > 2 - Nurture Leads > 3 - Convert Leads

Somebody showing interest in your product by filling in a form, or exchanging with your chatbot is generally considered a warm lead. And a warm lead is a great start, however the competition and the growing deficit of attention p has now made nurturing a lead more important than the initial contact. 

That’s where an SDR comes in! A sales development representative will contact a warm lead to educate this potential client with demos, webinars and general Q+A sessions. An SDR will need to be trained on the product to be able to answer mosts questions but they will also have a good level of empathy, always putting themselves in the clients shoes.

What’s the difference between a sales development representative and a business developer?

They sound similar, but a business developer will mainly be outgoing. Their job is to discover new markets and develop a portfolio of new relationships. It’s a very outbound position.

A sales development representative will mainly be inbound. They will not be hunting for new clients, but they will be making sure that potential clients understand how the product can work for them.

Why were SDRs not more popular before?

In the past, most software startups came out of Silicon Valley where the average salary for tech developers is over 150K$/year. That has driven up property prices and general living costs, so basing your growth on the number of salespeople that you can hire was not really a strategy. 

You had to use as much tech as possible to automate your client acquisition funnel. And if you didn’t, you wouldn’t get funded by that VC you wanted.


What’s changed?

Obviously, you don’t have to be in the Silicon Valley to launch a business anymore. And the advent of remote working now allows your tech team to be in Ukraine, your sales time to be in the UK, and your CEO can be in Los Angeles.

Remote working enables lower recruitment costs and more flexible contracts. So talking to a client to help them make a decision has now become a cost effective way of growing a business. It’s a new version of a technical sales and we will be seeing a lot more of these SDR jobs around. 

Actually, a new software category has already emerged to help you manage your remote SDRs. So we now have SDRs that sells software to help you manage SDRs.