There is a lot more to being hired for an SDR role than just submitting applications and hoping for the best. You need to stand out!

This week on INSIDE Inside Sales, Darryl welcomes Vendition’s Head of Partnerships and sales hiring rockstar, Brian Smith. Darryl gets Brian to share his insights and opinions as to what makes an SDR candidate stand out from among the crowd, as well as what hiring managers are prioritizing these days. They share extremely valuable tips such as how you need to be a storyteller, the importance of finding a sponsor, and how to maintain the right attitude to navigate the hills and valleys of sales. Learn how to avoid your CV landing on the “No” pile of applicants on this episode of INSIDE Inside Sales!




SDR interview


When Hiring Sales Reps: Here’s What Hiring Managers Are Really Looking For

  • Breaking into sales with zero background is difficult, but not impossible. The best way to do so is to learn from the experts –– and develop the skills hiring managers want in candidates.
  • Sales hiring expert Brian Smith has worked as an SDR, AE, trainer, and everything in between. He says the best sales development reps (SDRs) are great storytellers and approach the inevitable ups and downs of sales with resilience.
  • Brian shares tips on resumes, interviewing, and making an indelible impression on hiring managers, as well as insights for hiring managers on finding quality candidates.

 Whether you’re a fresh-out-of-college grad or you’re switching careers later in life, breaking into sales can feel like navigating uncharted waters. It’s a competitive, dynamic business that requires a set of skills that is difficult to quantify.

Even seasoned salespeople weather the occasional wild storm. What sets the most successful of them apart is their willingness to learn –– and pay it forward by “sharing the journey, utilizing what happened to teach others how to not make the same mistakes,” says sales hiring expert Brian Smith, head of partnerships at Vendition.

If you haven’t heard of Vendition, take note. It’s a free training, job placement, and mentorship program geared specifically for tech sales.

“Ultimately, we want to be an educational resource for SDRs,” says Brian.

Vendition also aims to change how companies hire them, too, by preparing the next generation of sales teams to hit the ground running when they join an organization.

Over the course of his career, Brian has been on all sides of the desk –– SDR, full-cycle AE, and sales leader. So he knows what it takes to build a good team.

On this episode of INSIDE Inside Sales, he shares insights on what makes an SDR candidate stand out, what hiring managers look for (and what they should), as well as tips on how to avoid having your resume land in the circular file and how to position the most important thing you’ll ever sell: yourself.

Hired for story

A popular notion among hiring managers right now, says Brian, is to look for signs of ambition and purpose: Are they hungry? Are they money-motivated?

“To me, those things can come crashing down pretty quickly. I think they should be looking for a person who can be a great storyteller,” he says.

Regular listeners might recall another episode of INSIDE Inside Sales focused solely on the art of telling a story. A quick cheat sheet: Storytelling improves your relational intelligence, establishes rapport, and gives you the opportunity to address pains, obstacles, and challenges your prospects may be facing by talking about how you helped other clients with similar issues.

Most importantly, crafting a narrative keeps them engaged and actively listening. So if you’re hiring, look for the skill of storytelling –– and if you’re seeking work, develop it by learning to tell your own story.

Diversity first

Brian thinks diversity should be a primary concern for all teams in all its facets: race, ethnicity, work experience, as well as educational, cultural, and geographic backgrounds –– and skill sets.

“The sales role is typically a lone wolf,” he says. It’s a performance-based role. But at the end of the day, your team has to rely on each other. And there’s nothing worse than having a team where everyone has the same skills and experience, because typically they can’t teach anything new to each other.”

Likewise, the way one team member communicates –– again, back to storytelling –– is probably different than their colleague who grew up in a culture other than their own. Plus, most salespeople need to reach out to clients and prospects from many different backgrounds.

The more points of view, the better. That’s why diversity in every form “helps elevate your team,” Brian adds.

The takeaway for job hunters? What makes you different makes you unique, so embrace opportunities to highlight whatever experience or identity has shaped your career and/or your approach to selling.

Do call it a comeback

Now that Brian is out there recruiting and evaluating talent, what does he look for in an SDR candidate?

“I’m looking for someone who considers themselves the comeback kid –– someone who has been knocked on their butt, has been beaten up, but has found a way to get back to winning,” he says.

In essence, he’s looking for someone much like himself.

“From my own personal experience, the sales world is a grind. I’m going to go on record and say you can’t consistently win. There’s hills and valleys.”

He’s right: You’re not going to win every deal. Sometimes you’ll do everything perfectly, but someone will make a decision to buy elsewhere. You’ll be upset, maybe even angry and bitter. Your boss will grill you: What did you miss? But if you have the “comeback-kid” mentality, you’ll rebound even stronger.

That’s why he looks for someone with resilience, who can learn from their mistakes as well as share how they did it. After all, selling products means communicating value and empowering the buyer.

“Don’t just tell me you found a way to find success. Tell me how you did it. Give me the formula.”

Three cheers

What does Brian wish SDR candidates knew when preparing for an interview?

“This may not be a traditional answer, but I gotta give credit to [sales leadership coach] Roderick Jefferson, who shared this with me,” Brian says. “Your resume needs to be able to tell a story but leave out enough information for the person to say, hmm, I want to hear more about his experience.”

To stand out in an interview, he recommends that candidates put together a presentation that builds a use case for the product you’d be selling. It’s one way to show things sales leaders and hiring managers look for that may not show up on a resume, like creativity, storytelling, and the ability to communicate value.

It will also provide a window into your thought process and, most importantly, that you’re willing to go that extra mile. Your interviewer will think: What will they do for a prospect to get the deal?

And Brian has an awesome way for you to answer the inevitable prompt: Do you have any questions for me?

“Let’s say I have this job and we’re out having our favorite drink. We’re toasting to my success. What three things are we toasting to?”