How to hire your first Outbound SDR/BDA

by Whitney Sales

When, Creating a Job Rec, and How to Evaluate Resumes

If you’re thinking about hiring an SDR/BDA, this article is the first in a series that will walk you through the end-to-end process to set you and your new SDR/BDA hire up for success.


  1. When: Only hire an SDR/BDA when you know how to set them up for success.
  2. Job Rec: Your job rec should include a company overview, compensation, expectations, description of day-to-day responsibilities
  3. Resumes: Evaluate resumes based on the competencies and skills you know are necessary for success in the role.

Demand generation (ie. the process of generating leads) can be intimidating for anyone without sales experience. Reaching out to your network, cold emailing, tweeting, and cold calling can be uncomfortable, to put it mildly.

As a founder, the temptation to hire a Sales Development Representative (SDR/BDA) to do your lead generation out of the gate is high. I get it! Lead generation is frustrating and time consuming. But here’s the thing… SDRs and BDAs are usually the most junior people at a new company. Using logic, why would you put the most junior person in your company on solving a problem that is one of the most important for the success of your business. If you don’t have leads, you don’t have customers. This doesn’t mean you have to do it forever, but take the time to figure out how to do demand generation, don’t just try to hand it off to someone else to solve.

So, when should you hire your first Outbound SDR/BDA?

You should only hire an SDR/BDA when:

  1. You know how to set them up for success because you’ve done the work yourself and you’ve developed a repeatable process you can train them on.
  2. You need them to be successful, so you’ll put in the work to make sure they are.

If you can confidently check both these boxes, you’re ready to make the hire.

How to Write an Outbound SDR/BDA Job Rec

An effective job rec includes:

  • An overview of your company and the job
  • Compensation
  • What you’re looking for
  • A description of the day to day (make it fun!)

Company Description:

Take some time to think through the questions below and write out your answers.

  • What do you do?
  • What problem do you solve in the market?
  • What makes your company cool? Why should someone choose to work at your company?
  • What makes the job interesting?
  • Who will the SDR/BDA be selling to?
  • List 5 words to describe your company culture.
  • How would you describe the person you’re looking to hire?

Other things that might be helpful to include:

  • Do your founder’s backgrounds make your company somewhere someone should want to work?
  • Do you have brand name VCs on your cap table?

Once you’ve answered these questions, you have what you need to write the 2-3 paragraph overview section of your job description.


Typical compensation for an SDR/BDA role is broken down into two categories – base salary and commission. More often than not, companies offer SDR/BDAs between 60-65% base salary and 35-40% commission.

For total on target earnings (OTE) in your market, or the base plus commission combined, you’ll want to look up what other companies in your area are paying via Angellist and Indeed.

Commission structure isn’t typically included in the job rec, but as soon as you start interviewing candidates you’ll need an answer to this question. Commission is typically structured in one of three ways:

    1. Quantitative: Set a target amount of sales-qualified leads an SDR/BDA would need to generate each month (SQL)
    2. Qualitative: Pay commission to the SDR/BDA on leads they create that are then sold by the Account Executive (AE) they passed the lead to.
    3. Tiered: Establish a tiered system in which your SDR/BDA’s compensation gets bumped each time they hit a specified target in a month.

Any of these compensation structures is viable and can be combined. I’ll leave it to you to choose the structure that best fits your company.

What you’re looking for:

The next part of your prep will be determining what competencies and skills are absolutely essential to success in the role. Think through 2-3 competencies and 2-3 skills that you’d like to see on a resume.

Example Competencies/Traits:

Are you looking for someone with resilience or grit? Perhaps the candidate for you went to community college before transferring to a university or worked in a blue collar job. They may have started a company in college or worked on an ambiguous project.

Example Skills:

Are you selling to developers? You might want a hobby coder. Are you selling to VPs and CXOs of mid-market+ companies? You may want someone with industry experience as an SDR/BDA at the mid-market+ level. An SDR/BDA is inevitably going to be writing a lot. Is their resume in a tone, language, and style that will resonate with your target market?

Now take these competencies and skills and think of a way to describe them indirectly. Remove requirements like degrees if they don’t apply.

Example Competency: Persistence

Example Descriptions:

You are the type of person who will ask for something in 5 different ways. Being told, “No, you can’t” or “That’s really hard” motivates you even more.

Here are some sample SDR/BDA Recs you might check out as you begin thinking about your own:

What their day to day will be like:

This should be fairly straightforward since you’ve been doing the job. The day to day may include:

  • Identifying potential target customers
  • Writing emails
  • Cold calling
  • Testing messaging and channels
  • Documenting best practices for future hires
  • Weekly meetings with the CEO to optimize processes and share ideas for improvements and best practices

Now dress these up! Use action words and language that highlights the personality of your company. If you’re not a great writer, find one on Upwork to quickly and cheaply craft something for you.

Pro tip: It’s always beneficial to have a good writer on staff.

Finally, run your job rec through Gender Decoder to ensure the language you use is gender neutral.

Where to Post the Job Rec

Finding prime talent begins with effective research and preparation, but like any good marketing campaign, it also requires you to hang out where your target audience hangs out. You’ll want to be strategic about where you post your job rec to give yourself the best chance of having a high-caliber crop of candidates to choose from. Since you’re a startup, you want to go where people looking for startup jobs are. We recommend Angellist, community Slack channels, and if you’re looking to hire a college student, Handshake. You’ll also want to post the job on Linkedin (but I don’t recommend paying for promotions), and Twitter so anyone following you or your company can help spread the word and refer candidates.

Evaluating Resumes

When it comes to evaluating resumes, you’ve already done the heavy lifting by understanding the requirements for success in the role. Now it’s time to think a bit outside the box to find potential candidates.

You may have listed “tech savvy” and “strong writer” as two desirable skills. You can learn a lot from a candidate’s area of study. For instance, if the candidate lists a STEM/Quant-heavy degree you’re likely to be getting an analytical and detail-oriented candidate who had to use software in school. On the other hand, if you’re looking at someone who majored in the social sciences, political science, economics, sociology, etc., you’re likely getting someone who spent time acquiring persuasive writing skills for their degree. Any and all of these are valuable in sales and won’t make or break any candidate so you’ll want to continue digging a bit deeper.

For instance, you should be interested in their prior experience.

Prior work as a waiter or waitress in college might have helped the candidate acquire and develop excellent people skills, humility, and an ability to upsell.

Certain jobs, anything in fundraising or volunteer recruitment, require a candidate to constantly ask things of and from people. These experiences can indicate grit and persuasive ability. Students who engage in university government groups or debate teams tend to show these qualities as well.

Candidates who played team sports tend to have a healthy balance of competitiveness and cooperativity, as do candidates who were actively involved in a sorority or fraternity.

All of these can be relevant experience for an SDR/BDA role, depending on what you’re looking for, and most startups don’t think of them. You’ll have access to high-quality candidates interested in working at a startup that most don’t think to consider.

Next Steps

Complete these steps and you’ll be well on your way to interviewing qualified candidates. Checkout the next article in the series Interviewing your First Sales Development Representative .


Interested in learning more about Fundraising, Entrepreneurial Sales, and Leadership from Pre-Seed to Series A? Check out Whitney’s blog, sign-up for my newsletter, and follow me on Twitter @thesalesmethod.

Whitney Sales is the creator of The Sales Method and a General Partner at Forum Ventures Venture’s Seed fund. Prior to The Sales Method and Forum Ventures, Whitney helped four companies gain entry to the Inc. 500 Fastest Growing Companies list, including LoopNet (IPO), Joby (acquired), Meltwater (acquired), and Tallie (acquired). The Sales Method is Whitney’s winning analytical process that looks at Sales-Market fit to align to a target market’s buying process, to ultimately help companies scale to market faster.

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