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How long should you be an SDR?

September 25, 2020
by
Kyle Vamvouris
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So, you’ve decided you’d like to become an SDR. Congrats! Welcome to the club. 

Did you know you can (roughly) predict and control how long you’ll be in the role? Well, you can! That’s what we’ll be exploring today, as well as the different paths possible for you to climb.

(To refresh for anyone who needs it, SDR= Sales Direct Representative, or someone who is responsible for reaching out to potential customers and scheduling sales meetings. How? Cold calling, LinkedIn outreach, curating and sending emails to the right recipients.)

How long should you be a Sales Development Representative? 

Let’s start with the market, which can vary pretty broadly. You’ll find opportunities in a plethora of industries (think anything from finance to food and wine) - but once the industry and its corresponding company is chosen, your longevity within it can be roughly predicted.

Before we cover the length of time you can expect to be an SDR I want to define a few company categories for you.

  • Small Business (SMB) - 0-100 employees, $1M-$5M in annual revenue.
  • Mid-Market (SME) - 101-500 employees, $10M-$1B in annual revenue.
  • Enterprise - Over 1000 employees, Over $1B in annual revenue.

Here is the general overview of how long you can expect to be an SDR at a company based on its target market (the type of businesses they are selling to).

  • Small Business (SMB) - 9-15 months.
  • Mid-Market - 12-24 months.
  • Enterprise - 18-48 months.
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SMB SDR

As an SDR selling into SMB, you can expect being promoted faster. This is typically the lowest paying SDR role and requires a high volume of activity. This is because SMB sales follows a more transactional process with less complexity the you’ll normally encounter with a larger company. 9-15 months is typically how long we see SMB SDRs in the role.

Who is the best fit for an SMB SDR role? You if you...

  • Have a high work ethic.
  • Don’t like managing multiple priorities at once. 
  • Want to close deals quickly.

Mid-Market SDR

SDRs who are selling into the Mid-market typically are in the role for longer. This is because mid-market sales cycles tend to be longer with larger deal sizes. As a Mid-market SDR, expect to earn more money but wait longer for commission payouts. You will also be responsible to managing a more complex workflow because you will have to reach out to multiple prospects at each company you are targeting. 12-24 months is typically how long we see Mid-market SDRs in the role.

Who is the best fit for an Mid-Market SDR role? You if you…

  • Are very organized.
  • Comfortable managing multiple decision makers at a company.
  • Want to be involved is more strategic selling. 

Enterprise SDR

SDRs selling into enterprise are both in the role for the longest and the highest paid. Deal sizes are high and sales cycles are long, 12-18 months to close a deal is common. You’re amidst the largest, most profitable companies. Expect a complex and strategic workflow with lots of internal and external stakeholders to manage. When it does come time to get promoted into a closing role, you will be among the highest earning sale people. 18-48 months is typically how long we see Enterprise SDRs in the role.

Who is the best fit for an Enterprise SDR role? You if you...

  • Are incredibly organized.
  • Can keep track of multiple stakeholders within one company.
  • Are good at leveraging internal resources.
  • Are patient.
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The SDR Role is a Journey

The path you will take as an SDR varies from person to person. Some SMB SDRs get promoted to AEs and after a few years transition to an enterprise SDR position. Others start in Mid-market and stay there.

Don't get caught up in creating an exact plan for your career path. Things will always change, so treat your career as a journey!

That being said, make sure you have your direct next step in mind. For example, an SDR in their 7th month prospecting into SMB would ideally be planning possible moves to a closing role or a mid-market SDR position. Growth is vital as an SDR - no matter how long the actual growth takes. Keep your eyes ahead.

Choose your industry

One of the best decisions you can make early in your career is picking an industry you really like and deciding to become an expert. Having a strong track record of success in your role AND expertise in a specific industry will lead to never being out of a job. 

You will earn more, hold jobs longer, and ultimately be more successful faster. 

This is why I always recommend SDRs find an industry they enjoy and go all in!

Sales Development will build a foundation for your future success. 

Being in a sales development role at any company is challenging. You will have to work hard and have a thick skin to be successful in the role. That being said, its very rewarding and will help you build the foundation needed to have a wildly successful career in sales. 

Don't focus too much on “how long” it's going to take for you to get promoted from the SDR role. Instead, fall in love with the process and watch as your career progresses.

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