Landing a job as a Sales Development Representative (SDR) is an incredibly exciting launching pad into the tech industry. With the average tenure for an SDR is 12 to 18 months, there are many potential career paths to take if you aspire to move up the sales ranks. But promotions don’t just happen by chance, it takes preparation, execution, and follow through.
Tech companies can hire you as an SDR today, but do you have potential for tomorrow? When it comes to climbing the sales ladder, it’s important to know your options as you aspire to what’s next in your career. Let’s walk through a hierarchy of common career tracks you can take within the sales role, including details on core job responsibilities and activities for each.
When you set goals and put in work, the possibilities are endless! Get excited about your future.
Job 1: Sales Development Representative (SDR)
Almost everyone in sales begins their career as an SDR, which is interchangeably known as a Business Development Representative (BDR) as well, depending on the company. Prior sales experience is not required to succeed in this role, but motivation and strong work ethic are.
As an SDR, you serve as a prospect’s first point of contact with your company’s product, which is an incredibly important role. You set the stage for the success of the entire sales cycle.
The core job responsibilities for SDRs are:
- Generating new leads
- Creating and qualifying opportunities
- Building relationships and pipeline
Top job activities include researching a list of prospects, writing emails, making cold calls, setting meetings, video prospecting, and leaning into more creative ways to prospect online.
Job 2: Account Executive (AE)
SDRs work closely with Account Executives (AEs), so the progression to this role is common for a lot of sales professionals.
As an AE, your primary function is to turn warm leads into sales, using the meetings that the SDRs have set up between you and prospective customers. This is what grows business.
The core job responsibilities for AEs are:
- Closing deals tee’d up by the SDRs
- Creating and qualifying opportunities
- Building relationships and pipeline
Top job activities include running product demos and walkthroughs to help showcase the value of your solution, negotiating contracts, discussing services, and nurturing the relationship.
Like SDRs, AEs have quotas to meet each month, quarter, and year that will determine your success and commissions.
Job 3: Sales Engineer (SE)
A Sales Engineer is a sales professional who specializes in understanding all of the technical aspects of a product or solution and can clearly explain the technical ins and outs of a product to qualified leads. Easier said than done, but people who love problem solving are great at this!
As a Sales Engineer, you are the ever-so-essential technical guru on the team. When AEs and others are asked technical questions, they lean on your clarity to drive decision makers forward.
The core job responsibilities for Sales Engineers are:
- Understanding all technical aspects of a product or solution
- Clearly explaining the ins and outs of a product to a qualified lead
Top job activities include leading virtual demos, explaining product features during live demos, and communicating with sales to understand prospect needs and provide technical support.
Job 4: Customer Success Manager (CSM)
A Customer Success Manager (CSM) is working in a hybrid role between customer service and sales. The CSM role is an integral part of the customer journey. It is vital for companies to not only focus on new customers, but to take care of and support their existing customers.
As a CSM, taking care of customers is what you’re all about. Your business depends on them.
The core job responsibilities for CSMs are:
- Building bridges between customer service and sales teams
- Supporting customers as they transition from pre-sale to post-sale in the pipeline
Top job activities include running support calls and walkthroughs, upselling or reselling to current customers, providing enablement to sales and marketing teams, and contract renewals.
Job 5: Sales Manager
Behind every successful sales team is a Sales Manager rallying the crew to achieve their goals. Becoming a Sales Manager means shifting from working directly with customers in your past sales roles to leading and managing a sales team. This is a rewarding progression for many.
As a Sales Manager, your job success comes down to enabling your sales team effectively.
The core job responsibilities for Sales Managers are:
- Leading and managing a team of salespeople
- Executing plans provided by the Director or VP of Sales
Top job activities include performance management, recruiting and hiring SDRs and AEs, removing barriers for sales reps to overcome challenges, and driving your team to meet quota.
Sales Manager positions often require experience with people and account management, a proven skill for meeting quotas, and a track record of closing significant deals. Get after it!
Job 6: Sales Director
In a Sales Director role, you’ll be moving from managing a sales team to managing multiple teams or departments. Sales Directors work closely with executive and upper management to exceed revenue growth goals, so strong communication and unwavering drive are important.
As a Sales Director, you’ll enable your sales team and collaborate on a more senior level.
The core job responsibilities for Sales Directors are:
- Leading and managing sales teams from multiple departments
- Working with executive and upper management to hit revenue goals
Top job activities include performance management across sales roles, recruiting and hiring, creating commission plans, developing career pathways for your team, and removing barriers.
Like Sales Managers, Sales Director positions often require a proven track record of success for meeting quotas and closing deals, with the added experience of managing sales teams.
Job 7: VP of Sales or Revenue
Moving on up… let’s discuss becoming the Vice President of Sales or Revenue next. This senior title comes with a lot of hard earned work and responsibilities, as you play an integral role in the development of your sales team in order to have the best talent possible at your company.
As the VP of Sales, you’re responsible for enabling the sales growth of the entire company.
The core job responsibilities for VPs of Sales are:
- Leading and managing overall company sales growth
- Working with stakeholders to create and approve the entire company sales strategy
- Expansion into newer markets and creating the go-to-market plan
Top job activities include hiring and firing personnel to uphold the quality of your sales team and goals, communicating with stakeholders to create strategic plans, and nurturing growth.
Job 8: Chief Revenue Officer (CRO)
Did someone say C-Suite!? Moving from SDR to Chief Revenue Officer (CRO) is possible, because remember, most people in sales leadership roles today got their start as SDRs! CROs are usually present in larger corporations as a position you can aspire to at the highest level.
As a CRO, you are the head honcho when it comes to enabling all other sales team members.
The core job responsibilities for CROs are:
- Being 100% responsible for revenue of entire organization
- Working with board members and other executives to make critical financial decisions
- Setting revenue performance goals
Top job activities include identifying goals such as KPIs or OKRs, monitoring and tracking the entire sales pipeline, and hiring or firing sales talent as deemed necessary for success.
Get on Track to Launch a Fulfilling Career in Sales with Vendition
Oh, the places you’ll go! Wherever you are on your sales career track, it’s important to stay balanced, organized, and focused on the goals in front of you. Work with your manager and share your career goals so you can develop a plan that will help you succeed in your current role, while preparing you to take on future responsibilities.
If you’re interested in breaking into tech sales and need help getting your foot in the door to land your first SDR role, Vendition can help! We are a 12-week Sales Apprenticeship Program for motivated individuals from all backgrounds who have a passion and desire to pursue tech sales. We help you find a job, support you through mock interview coaching, train you, AND pay you!
For expert help developing your career, apply to become a Vendition Sales Apprentice.