How to Transition From a Business Development Rep to an Account Executive [A Complete Guide]
The transition from a Business or Sales Development Representative (BDR/SDR) to an Account Executive (AE) is very, very common.
However, despite being the most common career transition, there is very little advice on how to actually make it happen.
This guide starts with the basics of the two roles, how they differ and finally, how to get that promotion. Let’s get it going.
- Short Role Descriptions
- Common Career Paths
- How To Get The Promotion (5 Steps)
- Articulate your interest
- Find a mentor
- Follow your leads
- Prepare your numbers
- Make it easy for your manager
Business Development Rep:
Sales rep that finds and books qualified leads.
Sales rep that turns a qualified lead into a sale.
A career transition from Sales or Business Development Representative (SDR/BDR) to Account Executive (AE) is very common.
Generally, once an SDR or BDR has had adequate experience, shown leadership on their team and hit their quota, they are ready to be promoted to Account Executive.
There is no set timeframe or black and white answer to how long this transition takes. Generally between one and two years, but again, this depends on the business, team, management style and your performance as a BDR.
P.S. Curious as to where you’ll be headed after you kill it as an AE? The two most common transitions from Account Executive are to Sales Manager or Channel Account Manager.
Since a transition from BDR is usually considered a promotion, AE’s are paid higher than BDRs in most cases.
As with all sales roles, the average salary can represent a large range of base salaries and on target earnings.
Below are the average US salaries for BDRs and AEs as reported by Payscale on July 8th, 2016.
BDR Average Salary
Account Executive Average Salary
Duties will differ from company to company depending on product, size, business model etc. etc., but let’s keep it simple. Here are the typical differences between BDR’s and AE’s responsibilities.
Being knowledgeable about what an AE actually does will help you make a case for a promotion.
Picture yourself as an AE, how would you begin conversations, how would you identify pain points and close the deal? You’re already a step ahead for doing your research.
Keep an eye out for articles on how to be a successful AE and you will begin to see trends.
Knowing the different activities is step one.
Got it? Cool. Now let’s get that promotion.
Are you looking for an Account Executive role? Browse open sales roles on Ideal.com.
5 Steps To Get That Promotion
Make it clear you would like to transition
It seems too easy, I know. But this step is too often overlooked by candidates. Sure, your manager probably has an idea that you’d like a promotion, but you’re the one that needs to keep on top of it. In your one-on-one meetings, let your manager know that you are looking to learn more about being an AE and that you’ve been teaching yourself a lot of the necessary skills. Show your interest.
If your manager suggests to circle back with them in X months, circle back with them in X months.
You need to advocate for yourself. Reps that wait around for promotions can end up waiting for a long time.
Show your hustle.
Find a mentor AE, take note of AE responsibilities and train yourself
Find someone inside the organization that you want to be like.
Maybe they are a top selling rep, maybe they are a team leader, maybe they are really well respected, hopefully they are all three. Reach out to them as a mentor. They can fill you in on their transition, how they did it, what they’ve learned, how to get it going.
They can also serve as an advocate for you and vouch for you meetings with the Sales Manager.
Keep a pulse on the leads you hand off
As a BDR you were handing off leads all day. As an AE, you’re going to be taking them and following through. A way for you to show interest, or even get a head start, is inquire on how the leads held up. Were they qualified? Did they close? What was the sales cycle?
By asking questions like this you are essentially training yourself.
See how far your leads got. If they fell off, was there a warning sign you could have caught earlier on? If they closed, what pushed them past the line? Showing interest in knowing what happens to your leads shows that you’re looking and able to learn, even before you get the title.
Make data-backed notes about your performance and keep your data clean
The cardinal sin of sales: dirty data. One of the worst things you can do as a salesperson is not stay on top of your leads, especially if you are passing them off to someone else.
If you failed to keep good notes and clean data as a BDR, you’re not going anywhere fast.
As they hand you more responsibility, your boss is looking for attention to detail and organizational skills.
The second thing they’re looking for is your performance metrics. How are your numbers? Be ready to answer any questions they may have. Know your reach rate, lead rate and pipe rate.
Make it easy for your manager to promote you
You need to make it extremely easy for your manager to promote you. Remember, they are busy. They also need to hit their numbers.
Steps 1-4 will help you catch their attention, show your willingness to learn and make sure you’re ready to answer any of their questions with data. Show your manager that you already know how to think like an AE and it will be that much easier for them to promote you. Good luck!
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