SaaS sales has been an exciting ride for me. Back when I was still pursuing a career in professional soccer, I was the captain of a team in the American Soccer League. I remember thinking that I wanted to start a career in which my intrinsic passion, creativity, communication skills, adaptability, tenacity, and goal-setting mentality would help me see immediate success.
I started my first BDR role through LaunchSource, and more than two years later I’ve refined my craft and I’m proud to be able to say that I’ve become one of the top emerging sales leaders in NYC. Through working for a few different high-growth SaaS companies, I’ve created millions of dollars in the sales pipeline and closed business.
In making the big decision to start a career in sales, I was inspired by seeing the success of other guys who had played soccer at a professional level and had transitioned to software sales, where they quickly started making six-figure earnings. As a result, I learned that the same mindset that drives success in sports will enable you to succeed in sales.
I have now worked at three VC (Venture Capital) backed companies. At each of those companies, I was one of the first hires on a small sales team where I was responsible for expanding growth in the North American and Latin American markets. I achieved this growth through inside sales, doing a mix of both outbound and inbound pipeline generation. This was especially challenging because these companies didn’t have big-name market recognition, so I repeatedly found myself in situations where I was selling products that were new to the market and/or competing against larger, more established companies.
THE ORIGINS OF THE BDR ROLE
Recent college grads or anyone who is looking for a lucrative career path and thinking about getting into software sales usually have to start in an entry-level BDR/SDR/inside sales role. It’s the very same role that some successful VPs, Directors, and CEOs have started in, such as Marc Benioff. Benioff is a former Oracle executive and current CEO of Salesforce.com, both of which are unicorn companies.
By some accounts, the BDR role originated at Salesforce.com, a tech company valued in the billions today. For the first five to six years, they grew their sales rapidly by using the inside sales model. Instead of meeting with clients face to face, reps conducted outreach via cold calls, emails, and social selling strategies to set up sales presentation meetings with prospects via web conference calls. The BDR role evolved out of this model, and today it is vital to a young SaaS company’s success.
BDRs are the first point of contact with prospects, charged with generating pipeline. A pipeline is essential for growth and hitting targets for ARR (annual recurring revenue). BDRs create meetings for AEs to close business, set up demos for Sales Engineers and other pre-sales folks, and are the first impression of a company for future customers long before they sign the contract and are matched with an Account Manager.
GROWTH POTENTIAL AS A BDR
The salaries for a BDR/ SDR role typically start at 35K-50K as a base, with an additional 50% of that on top as your OTE (on-target earnings). For example, if you’re making 50K as your base salary and you’re hitting 100% of your quota, your OTE will be 75K.
The career path for a BDR is typically to move into an Account Executive role, where you could earn anywhere from 75K-130K as your base salary, depending on your level of experience, your track record with hitting goals, and the company size of your prospects. For example, if you’re selling into Enterprise accounts and your company has a high average deal size, your salary will be higher. Additionally, there are many success stories of BDRs getting promoted into marketing, customer success, or product management roles.
ADVICE TO NEW AND FUTURE BDR’S
“Being a BDR is nothing like the typical 9-5 job; your success will be measured by the notable wins you contributed to bringing in and the team-oriented value and energy you bring to the sales floor every day. “
To those just starting, I would say: Brace yourself for an uphill mountain climb. You will walk into work with a different challenge to overcome daily. Being a BDR is nothing like the typical 9-5 job; your success will be measured by the notable wins you contributed to bringing in and the team-oriented value and energy you bring to the sales floor every day. Succeeding as a BDR takes grit, determination, drive, tenacity, resilience, organization, process, consistency, inquisitiveness, active listening, curiosity, and collaboration.
Always remember that personalized outreach is the best form of outreach, even if it takes you longer and you’re reaching out to fewer leads. It’s still worth it because you’ll be more successful with those leads that you took the time to research and understand their potential needs before reaching out.
Read the books The Challenger Sale and Fanatical Prospecting. Listen to Morgan Ingram’s SDR podcasts to learn some basic objection handling, strategic sales concepts, and basic sales processes.
Know that software companies will find it impossible to reach rapid growth without hungry and bright college grads like you out there creating a pipeline. The most culturally and intellectually diverse teams will come up with the most robust and creative solutions to the sales challenges a young, growing SaaS company will inevitably face.
The entry-level inside sales role is an excellent launchpad for those looking to transfer oral and written communication skills from their college education into a lucrative career. It will be a very challenging job, but it’s one of the best paths out there if you’re looking to gain skills, develop your career, and make money!