From Sales Development to SMB Sales in 9 Months

This piece is part of our series on modern sales reps, by sales reps. 

from sales development to smbIn our world of predictable revenue, many college grads wanting a career in tech sales start as a sales development rep.

The SDR role provides a crash course in prospecting skills, the buying process and the general ups and downs of sales.

Still, there’s a lot to learn before taking the next step.

Personally, I had no idea how to manage the sales process, negotiate or even send a proposal within our CRM. And opportunity for promotion can be scarce, especially in a startup environment. Good SDR’s are tough to find, and most companies aren’t exactly eager to lose the one’s they have, even to promotion.

So my advice to SDR’s looking to move up: Manage your promotion like a sales process.

That’s right, treat it like you are selling your talents to your employer. Aside from being great practice for you personally, you can demonstrate to your boss that you are serious and know how to keep a deal moving.

Note that before you attempt to seek upward trajectory, you must exceed the expectations for your SDR role. Spend a good amount of time in sales development to learn as much as possible, constantly hit your metrics to demonstrate your skills and even take on responsibilities outside your role to build an internal brand.

In my journey from SDR to small business account executive, there were five critical steps that mirrored our internal sales process:

5 Steps To Go From Sales Development to SMB Sales
  1. Prospect your way into initial conversations. This is the easy part. It’s what you do as an SDR every day. Gain a formal meeting with the necessary stakeholders to talk about your goals. Book a meeting room, put time on their calendar, block out distractions for 30 minutes to talk about your future. For me personally, by the end of this meeting, our SDR leader, our VP of Sales, and even our CEO knew exactly where I wanted to go.
  2. Find your internal champion. Much like closing a complex sale, promotion is tough to conquer alone. Finding someone to promote your cause when you’re not in the room is absolutely essential. This should be someone you really trust and can ask questions to when you are frustrated or out of your depth. I’m lucky to be surrounded by a great group of people, so I truly had champions crawling out of the woodwork. They gave me advice, support and helped drive the process to completion.
  3. Gain commitment on a timeline. After laying out why you want to move to an AE position, building out a timeline will crystalize your goals and help hold both parties accountable. As you hit the goals associated with your timeline, you can let your excitement build and really enjoy the process. Checking off small goals along the way makes the process feel more attainable, concrete and most importantly fun!
  4. Drive the process forward. ALWAYS HAVE A NEXT STEP. This is the most important piece of advice I can give.  It builds and maintains momentum. Going hand-in-hand with your timeline, it also removes ambiguity from the process. Plus it’s just generally good sales strategy.
  5. Close. When all the boxes are checked and the timeline is met, your job is not over. Be proactive when holding stakeholders accountable and really drive to getting the paperwork signed. And when you get the signature, consider it your first closed deal!

This worked for me in 9 months. As for you? Congrats in advance.

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