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Pick Your Path: Launching your career in sales

How to get hired as a Sales Development Representative and where this entry level sales role can lead.

Are you wondering if a career in sales is right for you? If you’re looking for entry level sales roles, a sales development representative (SDR) position can get you started on this career path.

Elastic is a Handshake employer partner that is always looking for new SDRs to join their team. Elastic provides search products to companies from Microsoft to NASA, helping them explore and analyze their data. We caught up with Adam Gross, VP of Global Business Development at Elastic, to get an overview of this role, how you can get hired, and where the SDR path can lead.

What does a sales development representative do?

In this entry level sales role, you help the company find customers for their product. This role is a great way to get started in sales: there is often a clear promotion path based on sales quotas, and you can get hired without direct sales experience. It also gives you the chance to hone your communication and persuasion skills.

As an SDR, you are responsible for the first stage of the sales process: prospecting (researching and identifying potential customers for your employer’s product) and qualifying (figuring out whether the potential customer has the need and ability to buy the product). Your day is spent doing research, emailing and calling potential clients, and meeting with internal teams to understand their needs and help them meet their goals.

Typically, once you qualify the lead, you pass it on to a sales representative, who then pitches the client and moves them through the next stages of the sales process. (This would likely be your next role after working as an SDR).

What skills or experience are important in this role?

When hiring for entry level sales roles, Gross looks for candidates who are:

  • Self-motivated and curious
  • Comfortable communicating over phone and email
  • Organized and good at time management
  • Coachable and open to feedback

It helps to have previous experience in customer service, or leadership roles on sports teams or clubs.

"As a leader in the SDR organization, hiring top talent and crafting quality culture are my top priorities," says Gross. To build this culture at Elastic, the hiring team focuses on a learner's mindset, leadership potential, and a positive attitude.

In interviews, Gross looks for active listening skills and comfort communicating your ideas. The way you behave in an interview shows how you would communicate with potential clients, so come prepared with questions, listen carefully, and show your personality.

Where can this job lead?

Successful SDRs learn how to read people quickly, how to communicate effectively, and how to be resilient and resourceful when they hear “no”. The role also teaches you how business decision makers think. All of these are foundational skills for a successful career, whether you continue in sales or not.

Many people who start out as SDRs have a strong desire to continue their career in sales. But Gross told us that at Elastic, SDRs have transitioned to roles in marketing, customer success, operations, management and more.

Since the job is tied to performance quotas, there is a clear path to promotion. If you are skilled at meeting your numbers, and develop a solid understanding of the sales cycle, you may advance within 12-18 months.

About Elastic

Elastic is a search company. Thousands of organizations worldwide, including Cisco, eBay, Goldman Sachs, The Mayo Clinic, The New York Times, Wikipedia, and Verizon, use Elastic to power mission-critical systems. Elastic is committed to providing ongoing, customized training to help its SDRs succeed in their roles and beyond. Currently, many U.S.-based roles are hybrid: Elastic encourages employees to come to the office a few days a week, and work part of the week at home. You can see their open sales roles here.

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