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The Ultimate Guide to Starting Your Career in Tech Sales | Part 3 - Tech Sales in the organization

Alma Dassa, School Team @ Jolt
|
September 4, 2021
Tech Sales in the organization — what does it look like?

In most studies the job of SDR comes under the sales department — the beating heart of any  company or organization. Indeed, all the company’s other activities are financed by sales profits, as well as by fundraised money. Sales results are those that most influence the company’s profitability. As mentioned above, the job is the first link in the organization’s sales chain, followed by Account Executives, Sales Operations/Enablements, Directors, all under VP Sales.

It is not common for SDRs  to be under the marketing department, but this may occur, especially when the vast majority of incoming leads are generated by the company’s marketing channels, i.e. inbound lead generation.

Note that very often, as is seen in job descriptions, the work week of a sales department in general, including SDRs, is from Monday to Friday (and sometimes the hours are also different from regular working hours in Israel), to adapt activity to the working hours of leads and prospects in different time zones.

In which organizations does the position exist? What is unique about the position in startup and tech organizations?

The position is common in tech companies, particularly in SaaS companies. The differentiation between SDRs active in various tech fields lies mainly in an in-depth understanding of the ecosystem of the sub-field in which they work.

It should be noted that the responsibilities this position entails (such as location of and outreach to cold leads) also exist in non-tech B2B organizations (for example, communication companies), yet is seems that the segmentation of the sales chain as well as the set of responsibilities involved in the start of the sales process in the hands of a single person - the SDR, is typical to both tech and startup companies. 

At what development stage in the organization is this position filled?

With regard to startups, recruitment of SDRs starts when product/market fit is achieved and the sales begins, in about Round A. In this stage the company begins investing money in marketing and selling the product and thus needs to fill several sales chain positions: VP Sales, directors, account executives and SDRs. However, it is important to note that the key two-word phrase from this aspect is “company-dependent”. Some startups, for example Affogata, hired their first SDR after the pre-seed round. In this regard a longitudinal study on Israeli startups conducted by two Israeli researchers indicated “a correlation between the ability to make early-stage sales and the chance of survival and success in the long term. Companies that  produced  sales in its early years reduced the risk of closing within a span of 20 years by 90%, compared to companies that did not do this”.

Note that there are still tech and startup companies in Israel that assume that sales should be conducted abroad, i.e. physically in the product’s target market to facilitate  face-to-face sales processes. This meant that recruiting in Israel was rare, as most position holders in the sales chain were located elsewhere. In recent years this approach changed when it became clear that sales can be conducted remotely by Israelis, and that this would significantly lower costs (salaries as well as the cost of maintaining a sales team abroad). Panaya was one of the pioneers from this aspect.

According to the TOPO report mentioned above, tech companies that maintain a fast growth pace are those that build a strong sales team, and in particular those that maintain a high ratio of SDRs to sales reps (usually account executives, next in the sales chain, who close the deals). Half the organizations in the first growth stages (revenue of less than $25M) maintain a ratio of one SDR to each AE. As the company grows the average ratio drops to one SDR to every 4.4 sales reps. Research shows that the optimal ratio in companies with a revenue higher than $25M is one SDR to every 3 sales reps.

The demand for SDRs changes according to company size and also depends on the number of potential leads the company aims to actively reach out to. Thus for a list of up to 100 leads, one SDR is required to handle 10-15 leads. So a company that defines 80 potential leads needs about four SDRs. In larger companies with longer lead lists, each SDR is expected to handle more leads.

How long is the SDRs first position?

According to the TOPO report, it appears that the average job duration for SDRs (in the companies examined) is 15 months. This marks a trend whereby SDR job durations are lengthening mainly due to the job’s advancement opportunities as well as additional skills acquired in the job. These keep the SDRs involved, highly motivated and more productive.

SDRs themselves, recruiters and senior personnel in the sales world claim that since this is a high-burnout position, SDRs usually remain in the job for one to two years. Indeed, according to 25 LinkedIn profiles of former SDRs in Israel, it appears that the job duration in this position is from just under a year to two and a half years, while the average is 18 months.

Note that today there are SDRs , especially more mature SDRs, who love their jobs, feel that they have become professionals in accordance with the job’s requirements, and are satisfied with their salaries that include bonuses and commissions, and thus they remain in the job for much longer. However, this job is perceived as an “entry into the tech world” (Danielle Pasternak Antebi, SDR at Whisk), or as “the ultimate entry into high tech” (Eli Barenboim, co-founder at FastBreak and Jolter in the field of business development and sales). Hence the natural aspiration is to advance to more senior positions in the sales field or in customer success.

Mapping of SDR advancement opportunities

As mentioned, the position comes with an expectation of advancement and development in the sales or customer-related fields within a year or two. This depends on the structure of each individual company or organization, as well as on the candidate’s personal qualifications. According to PayScale, which specializes in analysing big data on positions, salaries and job satisfaction among employees and their employers, the advancement opportunities open to SDRs (in eight - 20% of the studies on which they based these conclusions) are:

Customer Success Manager 

The function in the company responsible for  ensuring that new and existing customers use the product or service in a way that will give them the value they expected, and more. The CSM is responsible for ongoing engagement with customers, for follow-up on their involvement with the product, and on product adaptation to meet the customers’ specific requirements. These all lead to company profitability and growth. CMSs use tools to analyse data for measuring the extent and the nature of their engagement with each customer, as well as the characteristics of the way each customer uses the product or service.

Account Executive

Usually the next stage in the sales process, following the SDR’s work with leads. In  general the AE is responsible for managing the deal-making processes with prospects and turning them into paying customers.

    For example:

    For example:

Sales Development Team Leader

 Move to a managerial position in sales development.

Senior SDR

Professional advancement within the team, which may include a move to dealing with more significant leads, or to handling a more challenging market with a higher profit potential (e.g. handling a larger geographical area in a smaller region)

Account Manager

As a rule this company function is responsible for increasing the customer’s use of the product or service.

For example:

For example:

For example:


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By taking this 10-min test I can set myself up for success

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