Interviewing for an SDR role can be a daunting prospect for applicants looking to establish a foothold in sales. It’s also a tremendous opportunity. Nailing the SDR interview for can be the difference between a 68k base salary with plenty of upward mobility and date nights at McDonald’s.
Bravado sat down with Drew Coryer, Sales Development Manager at Webflow, to get the down-low on how to tackle the interview with confidence and show hiring managers that you’re ready to be their next sales savage.
- Prepping For The Interview
- The First Interview
- Second Interview
- Closing The Deal
Prepping For The Interview
The prep that goes into a successful SDR interview is similar to the prep that goes into a successful cold call. Do your research! Going into an interview with a solid understanding of the following will help set you apart from other candidates and meet interviewers on their level:
- What is the company’s core product and how does it work?
- What is their value proposition? How would you go about selling the product to a prospect?
- What is the company culture and how would you see yourself fitting in?
Having the answers to these questions will allow you to meet the company at their level and speak to the specific needs of the role, rather than just selling yourself generally.
You are also likely to be put through a mock cold call at some point to test your skills, so preparing to sell the product creatively and with an informed pitch is key.
Lastly, it should go without saying, but think about what you bring to the table. Salespeople are storytellers, so how are you going to tell your story to show the value you bring to this specific company? Don’t walk into your interview like a former college football player who’s looking for a job. Walk in a proven winner who’s champing at the bit to put more numbers on the boards. If you can’t tell a compelling story of who you are, your interviewer won’t do it for you.
Ask A Hiring Manager
Bravado: When interviewing new SDRs, what are some of the things you look for? Are you focused on experience, qualifications, or personality, etc?
Drew from Webflow: I am focused on curiosity, grit, and their ability to communicate. We often are speaking with Directors, VP, and C-Level executives, so I am trying to gauge if this person will be able to meet these folks at their level with an executive presence. In addition, will they be able to work through the challenges of this role – rejection being a big challenge.
Bravado: Are there any immediate red/green flags for you when looking at an SDR/BDR candidate?
Drew from Webflow: A red flag would be a complete lack of research. Not worried if they research me or not, but a candidate needs to understand our value prop and what makes us different from the competition. A green flag is if they can tell me a story about their experience or a situation that forced them to rise above what they thought they could accomplish.
The First Interview
Hiring managers are judging countless intangibles in a first interview, but it’s helpful to think of three very important boxes they’re looking to check in hiring.
- Are you competent?
- Are you confident?
- Are you the right fit?
A plus of interviewing for an SDR position is the amount of holistic judgment that goes into evaluating these criteria. Think about it like this: A potential AE will have years of data points to judge them by, but as an SDR, you have a lot of leeway to shape your own narrative. Even if you have no experience, you’ve got to sell something. A confident demeanor, a belief in yourself, a strong understanding of your strengths and weaknesses and pure honest grit can set you apart from countless SDRs with more experience but less of the secret sauce.
If you can allay your interviewers concerns and show them, using whatever creative thinking is required, that you check the three boxes above, you can break through the noise and land yourself a sales role.
Show, Don’t Tell
You wouldn’t set a lot of meetings by saying “Our product is great,” and hoping a prospect will trust you. Back those pitches up!
- I’m really good at selling stuff.
- I can set so many meetings.
- I like sales
- Playing D1 basketball in college gave me grit you can’t fake.
- Despite it being my first SDR position, I was in the top 30th percentile at my last job and I’m gunning for number one.
- I got bought my first car for $3000 in high school and sold it for 10,000. I’m that convincing.
Questions To Ask In First Interview
- What does ramp-up/onboarding look like?
- What does success look like in the first 90 days in this role?
- What does success look like in the first year?
- What are some common reasons a person might fail in this role?
Ask A Hiring Manager
Bravado: How do you recommend SDRs with no experience frame their past experiences to set themselves up for success in the interview?
Drew from Webflow: A significant part of being an SDR is research and breaking through the noise. There are some really smart folks on LinkedIn who often share best practices and if you use their playbook, it can close that gap quickly.
Bravado: What about folks who have previous S/BDR experience but in a different industry?
Drew from Webflow: Lean into the lack of industry experience as a strength. I am building a diverse team with various backgrounds, so use that as a selling point.
It Has To Be A Fit For You, Too
Just because SDR is a junior-level position doesn’t mean you can’t be picky. Asking informed questions to make sure the company is a good fit for your own future success is a win-win: You can go into the job confident in what you’ve signed up for, and you’ll show your interviewer that you know your value in the process. Here are some good questions to start with:
- What’s comp like during onboarding? (If it’s not a non-recoverable draw for the first 1-3 months, you’re going in the deep end without a liferaft)
- If the company is a startup, how much runway do they have? (6 months is a red flag.)
- How often are management trainings? How are managers judged beyond revenue?
It’s no secret that SDR roles can be a grind, but questions like these can ensure you find your way into a workplace where you’re valued as a human being and have an opportunity to thrive and grow within the role.
A second interview will often be with a higher-level figure within the company. On some startup sales teams, you may even be interviewing with the CEO. This gives you a tremendous opportunity to make a first impression and ask bigger picture questions to show you understand the company’s broader mission.
This is not the time to ask how long the ramp is! Think bigger:
- Where do you see this org in 5 years?
- Who was the best SDR you’ve ever hired? Why?
- What sets apart SDRs that become AEs apart from SDRs that don’t, in your view?
Get That Money
SDR jobs are hard, so you shouldn’t be afraid to ask for what you’re worth. Sales roles are in high demand across the board, so if it’s time to negotiate a sales salary, you shouldn’t be afraid to ask for competitive sales comp that’s worth your time and effort.
A lot goes into a salary, and in sales, there are many factors to consider. Is a low base but a high OTE going to work for you? Are you confident you can hit quota or do you want to hedge your bets? Understanding these factors can allow you to become an informed negotiator for yourself.
Salary negotiation can be one of the most stressful points of an interview process, but you don’t have to go it alone. Bravado’s 2022 Sales Comp Guide can allow you to compare average salaries and bring evidence to back you up when you’re offered less than you think is fair.
Closing The Deal
With this advice in your back pocket, you should be ready to ace your SDR interview and ideally, juggle multiple offers and choose a role that’s right for you. Always remember that interviewing is selling, and if you’ve got the skills to pay the bills, managers will notice. Good luck out there.
Special thanks to Drew from Webflow for providing his wisdom and experience in the writing of this article!