What Tech Sales Job Descriptions Are REALLY Telling You

tech sales job description for sales development and account executives

In this article, you’ll learn what tech sales job descriptions are really telling you, along with a breakdown of the different types of sales positions that exist in tech.

Before we dive into how companies advertise sales positions (and what that means for you, the job seeker), it’s good to have a basic understanding of the possible types of tech sales jobs that exist.

In a certain sense it’s quite simple. Excluding managerial roles there are two types of tech sales jobs, those related to sales development (it’s possible to get sales development jobs with minimal experience) and those related to actual sales, closing deals, etc (typically known as an Account Executive).

But within these two categories there is a great amount of variety.

Different companies have different needs, and therefore being an SDR/AE at one company is likely quite different than having the same job title at another company.

Let’s first consider SDR’s and the types of roles that there are.

Types Of SDR Jobs

1. Outbound SDR:

This is a labor intensive role, often best suited for people fresh out of college beginning a career in tech sales. It involves a lot of cold calling (80 – 100/day), mass emailing, leaving voicemails — it’s the epitome of grunt work. Companies that lack a great deal of marketing leads will often compensate by using teams of outbound SDR’s to generate opportunities manually.

2. Inbound SDR:

This is a much ‘chiller’ job compared to an outbound role, available at companies with a significant amount of interest in their product. The Inbound SDR will qualify various inquiries and decide which ones are worth passing along to the sales team. These are great jobs to look for because any company with enough interest in their product to need Inbound SDR’s likely has substantial product market fit.

3. Enterprise/Strategic SDR:

This is a role where an SDR works closely within a team or directly with an Account Executive to open up important business opportunities. It will still involve cold calling, but will require more strategy than a normal Outbound role. Often Enterprise SDRs will have to map out the various people in an account and create personalized emails based on their LinkedIn profiles.

Of course, most SDR roles will not be one of these three types exclusively, and will be more of a hybrid of several. Let’s now look at some SDR job descriptions and see what one can gather from the description.

SDR Job Descriptions: Decoded

Example 1: Diffbot

Account Development Representative (ADR)

The Account Development Representative (ADR) at Diffbot is the first line of customer identification and qualification for the Data Solutions team. This role helps qualify inbound and prospect outbound leads for the company’s sales process — ADRs are innately curious about how AI will revolutionize the nature of information processing across all industries in the future. They are comfortable speaking the language of all of the various stakeholders in a large organization: ranging from the developer up to the CEO, to learn about how they use data and educate them about how our technology can make their workflows more efficient.

Core Responsibilities:

– Lead prospecting targeted outbound accounts for new opportunities; respond to and qualify inbound leads for potential customers

– Meet and exceed set monthly opportunity generation goals

– Communicate professionally and build relationships with C-level and VP level contacts at companies across various industries

What Does This Actually Mean?

From this description, we know that the ‘Account Development Representative’ role at Diffbot is really a hybrid of an Inbound SDR and Enterprise SDR. We know that there is an Inbound competent to the job because it says so plainly. We know that there is an Enterprise SDR component to the role because of the bit about being ‘comfortable speaking the language of all the various stakeholders in a large organization.

What this translates to, roughly, is that the ADR will have to interface with several people within an organization. This could be to book a meeting for an account executive, but it could also be do some detective work and find out who the decision maker/makers are. The ‘Account’ Development Representative has to think about entire accounts strategically, rather than just throwing out blind repetitive cold calls.

Example 2: Apptimize

Sales development is the life blood of Apptimize. The CEO loves sales development and in the early days manually sent 500 emails per day. The sense of accomplishment when you go through the prospect responses, the rapid iteration through different combinations of target profiles and pitches- maybe we’re weird but we find it satisfying and fun. Business development is how we get our best customers.

This role is ideal for someone who wants to live at the the front line of our go to market strategy and figure out what works with what audience and what’s going to come up during the sales process.

What Does This Actually Mean?

While it doesn’t say so specifically, from the second sentence it’s quite clear that this is a job description for an Outbound Sales development role. Here’s how you can tell. First and foremost, Apptimize gloats about and admires the manual outbound sales process that the CEO went through in its early days. Secondly, the description specifies that this role is for someone who wants to be on the ‘front line’.

Note: If you read this article and retain anything, remember that in sales being on the ‘front line’ is code for an extensive amount of cold calling, cold emailing — manual sales work. From this job description, it seems likely that Apptimize’s SDR role is almost purely outbound.

Example 3: Airtable

Core Responsibilities:

  • Strategize around sales inquiries with other members of the sales team.

  • Educate existing free Airtable users about the value of our premium product.

  • Coordinate users’ product exploration journeys, each tailored to the specific organization at hand, to convert budding interest into commercial action.

  • Rapidly learn how to model a wide range of use cases across different industries and the key dynamics that affect those use cases.

  • Actively deploy these modeling capabilities in highly targeted customer situations.

  • Conduct high-leverage, in-depth research to find new sales leads and enable success with the newly identified leads.

  • As an early team member, be energized by the opportunity to help build a process from the ground up.

  • Use data to problem-solve around the sales process and generate force-multiplying changes.

What Does This Actually Mean?

This role is an Inbound SDR role. Their Sales Development Associates are expected to work only with current customers using the Airtable product and warm leads who have inquired about the product. There is some strategic work in attempting to find new business opportunities, but because there’s no reference to working with VP’s or CEO’s the work is likely much less about strategizing careful outreach and more about generating interest with inbound leads to pass along to the sales team. You’ll need an intermediate level of sales skills and experience to perform well in this type of role.

Types of Account Executive (AE) Jobs

As An Account Executive selling SaaS, there are three basic categories that your job can fall under. Here’s what we’ve come up with:

1. Transactional Selling:

In this role, an Account Executive will meet with many clients for a short amount of time (often only one phone call). There is not an incredible amount of strategy involved with this sort of sale, and successful AE’s focus on securing ‘one call closes’ through persuasion and hustling to get more leads.

2. Enterprise (Complex) Sales:

In this role, an Account Executive will have to go through several meetings with various stakeholders, and strategically align various interests of multiple parties to close large six to seven figure deals. It’s the classic definition of a complex sale.

3. Everything In-Between:

Mid-market sales, which leans towards medium sized businesses or small departments within large corporations, is the most common type of software selling. AE’s will usually have 2-5 meetings with 1-3 parties to close these deals, which require more patience than transactional selling but move faster than large enterprise deals.

4. Full Cycle Sales:

Full cycle AE’s lack the support of SDR’s to book meetings and generate opportunities. This means they must foster their client relationships from start to finish, and focus a decent amount of time not on selling but on generating opportunities. On the other hand pure Sales AE’s spend all day closing marketing and sales qualified leads without working on Business Development at all. You won’t become a Rainmaker in one day in this type of role. Big deals take time to close, but they’re worth it!

Account Executive (AE) Job Descriptions: Decoded

Example 4: Freshdesk

In this hunter, quota-carrying sales role, we’re seeking passionate and highly driven professionals with prior software / SaaS sales experience. The Account Executive will play a leading role in accelerating Freshdesk’s revenue growth in the U.S.

Specifically, the Account Executive will:

  • Generate pipeline for Freshdesk’s Mid-Market business
  • Prospect, manage the sales process, and close new accounts in rapid cycles, in primarily insides sales environment
  • Work closely with Freshdesk teams to quickly learn and communicate Freshdesk’s value proposition clearly and effectively
  • Sell multiple product-lines: Freshdesk (customer facing, multi-channel online helpdesk) and/or Freshservice (employee-facing, online IT service desk)
  • Be part of the core U.S. team to represent Freshdesk at industry events

What Does This Actually Mean?

Though the job title says ‘Enterprise Account Executive’ the job description is telling us something much different. First and foremost, ‘mid-market’ businesses are specified in the description rather than Fortune 500 companies. Also the sentence ‘close new accounts in rapid cycles’ indicates that the selling is likely transactional in nature. Finally there are several indications that the Account Executive is responsible for generating his or her own pipeline. Thus despite the job title the job description is indicating a full cycle, transactional Account Executive position.


Also published on Medium.