Tools

How to Pitch an Entry-Level SDR Job at a Startup

Morgan Von Gunten
January 2020

If you’re like me, the job hunt feels a little terrifying. Because who’s going to respond? Does anyone even see my application? What if I don’t have the experience they’re asking for, but I want to do the job because I love the company?

I want to share a secret about winning jobs—a secret I hope many more people discover soon, and it starts with you: you just have to prove you can do the job before you have the job.

That’s it.

No degree, credential, or experience necessary to win an entry-level job at a startup.

And that’s actually not terrifying—it’s a whole lot of fun.

So if you’re thinking about a career in sales (it’s a great place to start your career), here’s how to get a response from the hiring manager, stand out from everyone else applying, and prove you’re awesome enough that they should hire you.

You’ll prove you can do the job before you have the job by combining several tactics—these are to show you understand the company’s product, their market, who their customers are, and that you’ve thought about how to reach out to them.

Then, to wrap it all up, you’ll create a pitch to show you’re willing to go above and beyond the normal application process.

Ready? Let’s dive in.

1. Research

To start, go try the company’s product. Get a sense of how it works and why it’s valuable.

Then spend some time on their website, blog, social media. Get a sense of who their customers are. What problem are they trying to solve?

Lastly, look up competitors in their space. Who else out there is trying to solve the same problem? Try to figure out why someone would choose the company’s product you’re researching above anyone else’s.

Note: it’s good to document this! Maybe with a Google Doc or Google Sheets.

2. The lead list

Using the information you found in the research section above, you’re now going to create a list of leads this company could actually use.

Start with your own personal network on LinkedIn. Make a list of anyone who works in the sector of business this company serves.

You can also use sites like AngelList, Crunchbase, and Yelp to find new customers for this company.

You’re looking for anyone whom you think might be able to benefit from the company’s product.

Then use a tool like Hunter.io, LeadIQ, or ZoomInfo to find the contact information for these potential customers. To make sure these leads are valid leads, run the emails you find through Kickbox.

Once you’ve got thirty to fifty contacts, organize them in a spreadsheet (Google Sheets is a good one). Include the person’s name and their contact info.

P.S. All these tools are free to use! 😉

3. Build a simple sales sequence

You’re now getting to the good stuff.

Come up with a three- to five-step sequence of emails and phone calls you’d use to get in touch with the leads you found. Keep it short, valuable, and make it personalized to the company you’ll send this to.

Google Docs is a good place to house your sequence.

Bonus points: document how you’d go about using your sales sequence. Show how you would do it if you did have the job.

4. Pitch the company

Once you’ve finished the three steps above, you’re ready to bring everything together and pitch the company on why you’re going to crush it on the job.

Start by creating a slide deck in Google Slides or Paste App. Add the company’s logo and colors to the cover slide, and add your name and the role you’re interested in. Something like:

Hey, [insert company name]! I’m [insert your name]. This is why I’ll crush it as an SDR.

Important: To take your pitch to the next level, hop on LinkedIn and try to figure out who the hiring manager at that company might be (even if it’s just your best guess). If you can’t find anyone with the title of Hiring Manager, look for someone whose title is Sales Manager or VP of Sales. In your pitch, address that person by name. It makes everything a whole lot more personal.

Then, for the next few slides on your deck, outline what you like about the company, why what they do matters to you, and how the skills they ask for translate well with your existing skills (even if you don’t have a ton of experience). Try to write this out in the simplest way possible—you want them to be able to see the value instantly, without having to read a lot of text.

Then spend two to three slides showing them you’re taking your pitch to the next level—outline the lead list and sales sequence you put together. Don’t go too into-the-weeds here—you’ll cover this more in a video soon.

On the final slide, add how they can get in touch with you.

Once your deck is finished, use Loom (a great screen-recording tool) and record yourself (make sure they can see your awesome face!) talking through the slides. Explain the content, and go into a little more detail about what you learned through creating the lead list and how you can apply that to be successful in the SDR role at their company.

One last step: to really make your pitch shine, upload your video to a tailored pitch on Crash, add the link to your lead list, and publish it so you have a nice link to send to the hiring manager.

5. Sending the pitch

Then (and this is critical), after you send in your application, go back on LinkedIn. Find the hiring manager you addressed the pitch to, then send them a message. Make sure you send them the link to your tailored pitch. Keep it short and sweet!

While you’re at it, go ahead and send an email, too. Something like this works well:

Hey, [insert their first name]! Just wanted to make sure you saw this. I applied for [insert role], but to go above and beyond, I created a pitch you can view here [hyperlink to your pitch]. Looking forward to hearing from you!

6. Following up

If you don’t hear anything back, follow up every 24 to 72 hours until you hear something.

This is sales—so you’re trying to get a response, even if that response is “no.” If you can prove you’re capable of persevering through rejection until you hear something, that’s a good signal.

Use your judgment, and try not to be annoying. But remember: if you don’t have any experience (which is completely okay), your effort and willingness to work hard are both secret weapons.

Where to find an SDR role at a startup

Companies are hiring all the time for SDRs—and you can run the above process to stand out to them when applying. Here are some of my favorite jobs boards to find openings:


P.S. Huge thank-you to Mitchell Earl for inspiring most of this post.


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