As a manager of a SDR team and a former SDR myself, I am quite familiar with the question, “What do you want to do next?” It’s an inquiry often asked of SDRs but rarely asked of account executives, pre-sales consultants, or even SDR managers. It’s a question people interviewing for an SDR role feel compelled to answer. Why is that?

I have a theory.

The future professional outlook of an SDR from the outside, comes from a negative bias of what the SDR role is.

Let’s start with the misunderstanding of the SDR role. Many assume that an SDR is a telemarketer. Does the phrase “smile and dial” sound familiar? I hate this phrase. Embedded in it, is the assumption that an SDR is a mindless robot who relies on the law of averages and their given ability to handle rejection.  “Did they say “no” and hang up?, auto-dial the next name on the list and see what happens.”

A professional SDR is cut from a different cloth, and their day is anything but robotic. I manage a team of SDRs who look for companies with very complex technical needs that we can fulfill. These SDRs probe senior directors for details about their technical environment and even internal politics. They monitor social channels for buying behaviors, they develop professional relationships, and share relevant and timely info-graphics and eBooks.

They listen very carefully to what a prospect says—or doesn’t say, and make strategic decisions about how to respond on the fly.

They craft personalized, detailed, powerful communications.

They deliver messages to a prospect over email, text, inMail, phone—whatever method the prospect prefers at exactly the right moment to be heard.

They are savvy with a CRM, spreadsheets, marketing automation tools, internet searches, Outlook, the list goes on!

In short, it’s the furthest thing from smiling and dialing and it is not mastered in weeks, or months, by someone fresh out of college.

This is a job for a professional, and professionals get paid. A skilled, successful SDR can make a good living.

There are other things to consider too. Do you like to work from home?  You can do that as an SDR. Do you like to turn your computer/phone off at the end of the day occasionally, and on the weekends? You can do that as an SDR. 

If you see your life including the freedom to go to a show at night—your kid’s play or your friend’s dinner party—without the anxiety of a last minute cancellation because you have to fly somewhere, an SDR role might be a good fit.

If you are smart, like to solve puzzles, brave, process information quickly, have a strong EQ and understand technology; you might have what it takes to be a professional SDR.

-Kristie Willis-

Kristie Willis is a global SDR manager for WorkForce Software, a company that provides cloud-based workforce management solutions for the connected workforce. After finding success as an SDR, she went on to manage the team. In her free time, she ditches her devices and plays at the beach with her family. Connect on LinkedIn to stay in touch.