An interview with Jimmy Comodeca, SDR Manager and publisher of The SDR Newsletter

This week, we wanted to devote some time to entry-level sales roles, so we reached out to Jimmy Comodeca, who was kind enough to answer some of our questions. Jimmy publishes the SDR Newsletter (well worth checking out here) and is an SDR Manager at Previously, he’s worked as an SDR, AE, and SDR Manager at various startups and early-stage tech companies, mostly within the martech industry.

SDR, or Sales Development Representative (similar to BDR – Business Development Representative) roles are considered entry-level positions which primarily involve lots of outreach and qualifying before handing the deal off to an Account Executive (or something similar) to close. With the explosion of technology companies, these roles have grown in popularity and now serve as an entry-point for a career in sales. The following interview has been edited for clarity. 

Q. The SDR/BDR role is an entry level sales role. Who is taking on these roles these days? Is it mostly young people? Are there people from other careers making the switch into these roles? Is a college degree necessary in most cases?

A. Given the high level of demand for SDRs, we’ve seen a shift in the type of people taking these roles.

It’s no longer just college grads taking these roles – instead, we’re seeing workers with a wide variety of backgrounds enter the field. From bartenders to teachers to retail workers, people of all backgrounds are making the switch.

SDR bootcamps are also helping with this transition, aiming to teach the necessary skills to make the transition and help people get their foot in the door.

Is a college degree necessary in most cases? No. The most important aspect of being a successful SDR is having the motivation and persistence to maintain a high level of quality outreach. 

Q. SDR roles require a ton of outreach. What have you found to be the best ways to keep reps motivated to make so many calls/send so many emails?

A. While spliffs and contests are a great way to motivate reps in the short-term, the real motivator comes from enabling SDRs to get to the next level of their careers. 

Working with SDRs and developing a plan to help them get to that next step is the best way to keep reps motivated. 

Q. What does the comp plan look like for SDRs? How is it typically structured? How much money are SDRs making at the low end and at the high end?

A. Comp plans for SDRs are similar to most sales roles and typically consist of two parts: base pay and commission.

While comp plans vary by company and by city, SDRs often earn anywhere from 50k-70k base,  with OTE’s being anywhere from 70k-100k. I suggest SDRs and job seekers check out RepVue to see how their compensation stacks up with others.

Q. For how long can most SDR/BDR reps expect to stay in their role before being promoted? 

A. SDRs typically stay in the role for anywhere from 12-24 months, however, it depends on the company. Some companies promote quickly, some take a bit longer. 

Q. What is the turnover like for these high-activity, entry-level sales roles? Are there a lot of people who crack under the pressure?

A. Turnover in these entry-level sales roles is typically higher than in other jobs.

The reality is that sales isn’t for everyone, and people often crack under the pressure. The good news is that the failure rate significantly decreases for those that develop an action plan and continuously work to improve. Those that put in the work will see their income grow significantly. 

Q. What are some early indicators that an SDR is going to be successful? What are some indicators that they won't be?

A. Successful SDRs are proactive throughout the interview process. They essentially become an SDR to get an offer as an SDR. Reaching out to hiring managers directly, establishing next steps at the end of calls, following up often, and researching companies will set them up to be successful.

Additionally, the first few weeks of a new job are a pivotal time. The best SDRs seek out the top performers and aim to identify what they are doing differently from others. From there, they move fast and aren’t afraid to fail. Hit the phones hard, fail fast, and learn.

The biggest indicator that an SDR won’t be successful is when they have aversion to making cold calls. SDRs need to be utilizing every channel available to them in order to be successful. By eliminating one channel, you put yourself at a significant disadvantage. Hit the phones hard and keep the activity levels high.

Q. What is the one thing that separates great SDRs from average ones?

The top SDRs are continuous learners. They are constantly seeking out new outreach tactics, different cold call strategies, and anything else to improve their outreach skills.

The same outreach strategies that worked 5 years ago will eventually be less effective, which is why it’s so important to keep up to date on innovative tactics.

Whether it’s reading new books, listening to podcasts, or reading a newsletter, great SDRs are always striving to get better.

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