SDR career path: how to progress through the various career stages

Posted August 15, 2017

By Serena Miller

Editor, Sales Best Practices at Outreach

Today, we're going to talk about SDR career paths, and how they can progress through the different stages of their careers, especially as they're taking on their first or second jobs. In the Bay Area, companies frequently decide to change their sales organizations, which means that SDRs are often at risk of being "fired for no reason." This leads to a choppy or disorganized progression through various companies and can contribute to SDRs feeling displaced and undervalued.

Today, companies are also bringing in SDRs and handling them improperly. In many cases, there is a misunderstanding of how critical an SDR's role is, which undermines everything else as well. Fortunately, there are smart ways for SDRs to overcome these challenges and move toward a stable and upwardly mobile career.

SDRs: A Critical Role In A Company's Growth

At Outreach, we believe that SDRs are the heartbeat of a company. If an SDR sneezes, the entire company gets cancer. It's critical to us that SDRs perform all the time.

As such, we believe that companies need to learn to develop their SDRs to be the people the company wants them to be. What we often see is that SDRs in their mid-twenties or thirties are focusing on this one singular role, and the entire role benefits from an increased focus on its pivotal nature.

How SDRs Can Progress Intelligently: 4 Tips

For best results, SDRs need a stable career path. Unfortunately, this isn't the case for many SDRs who start in the field and rely on their performances to elevate them in the organization.


Today, few SDRs in the first and second part of their jobs are relying solely on their hard work. The times have changed, and companies need to adjust accordingly.

One thing many experts recommend is micro-promotions. Moving SDRs from inbound to outbound sales motions and similar promotions can help SDRs avoid getting stuck on one level for 18 months or more.

This upward mobility can keep SDRs motivated and fresh. This also prevents SDRs from becoming burnt-out because they see other SDRs come in at the same level they've been stuck at, despite all their hard work, for months.


HDFS stands for "human development and family studies," and it's a critical consideration in modern workplaces. In today's fast-paced workforce, SDRs are willing to move faster, and they'll abandon workplaces that don't support their desire to grow and move upward.

In other words, today's SDRs don't want to go the same way as their parents, who often spent decades in a job without moving up. As such, they're creating a force that's requiring employers to change the way they approach SDRs. SDRs don't want to feel stuck, so it's critical for companies to find ways to help them avoid it.


SDR roles are very senior positions, and good SDRs should be treated the same way as people who can close senior deals, instead of treating these varying positions like they're the same as AEs. When companies recognize different roles and different responsibilities, they encourage upward mobility and better performance.


If you're a sales leader, you need to concentrate on three things: training, communication and practice. Here are a few ways to do it:

  • Book club. Every Friday, read a book, read a blog, watch a TED video or whatever. By helping SDRs get educated, you can boost your training.
  • Set the expectations. When you tell SDRs what they can expect, it prevents them from feeling like they're being advanced to the next stop and helps them feel like doors are being opened to help them achieve their goals. It also helps SDRs drive results on a consistent basis. Make SDRs as good as they can be in the role you're in, and you'll benefit hugely.

While some organizations can't afford a trainer, especially if they're dealing with several SDRs at once, these simple steps can help prioritize training on a company-wide basis.

Better SDRs Start Here

Great SDRs are critical to the success of any good company. As such, it's smart for organizations here in the Bay Area and throughout the country to focus intensely on uplifting and supporting their SDRs so they can reach their peak level of performance at all times.

While many companies aren't sure how to do this, simple things like focusing on training and education, setting expectations and providing a path forward for SDRs at various stages can be instrumental. Companies can also benefit from acknowledging the fact that an SDR is as advanced as a senior AE, and should be treated as such.

When the differentiated approach starts to die, companies can help their SDRs be as good as possible at the current iteration of their jobs, which helps prevent burnout, gives the SDRs a path to move up and enjoy access to the whole company, and boosts the company's bottom line and morale all at once, all of which are critical to long-lasting and sustainable success.


Read more

Discover the Sales Execution Platform
See how Outreach helps sellers close over 2 million opportunities every month.