When I was 26 years old, I had two college degrees and 5 years of experience as an aircraft mechanic for the Air Force. The jobs I was qualified for on paper were not high-paying jobs. The pond I was fishing in was small, local, and the fish were small.
I spent quite a bit of time searching for different industries (ponds) that I could work within. I wanted the ability to earn as much money as I could as quickly as possible (I had one kid with another on the way). My dad and aunt have spent most of their careers in sales and earn deep six figures. This led me to search the internet for the highest-paying sales jobs.
It was obvious to me that the most potential for a career opportunity and income growth was to work for companies that are growing at a significant pace. I didn’t just want a sales job, but rather a sales job with a hyper-growth company that had a scalable product without geographical limitations.
I interviewed for both medical device sales and Software as a Service (SaaS) sales. It was evident that I wasn’t ready for medical device sales and to me, it wasn’t nearly as scalable as SaaS. To me, SaaS allows you to sell to the masses from a computer. Travel is minimal and time isn’t wasted visiting in person, etc. I could effectively turn and burn all day every day and generate significant sums of income.
SaaS Sales Career Pathway
I landed a job as a Business Development Representative (BDR). This is the entry-level position of most SaaS companies (also called SDR). The job was less than glamourous. In just 10 months, I made over 8,500 phone calls and sent tens of thousands of emails. This is the right of passage for most SaaS companies today. Cutting your teeth on the phone and working through 99 no’s to get to the 1 yes.
The carrot at the end of the stick was that there’s a direct pathway to Account Executive or Account Management where the big money is made. I realized that if I did my time and outperformed my peers, I could promote quickly.
Keep in mind, if you promote quickly, you likely won’t realize the OTE for that position. Once you get to Account Executive or Account Manager or Customer Success Manager your income will level off. You’re more likely to spend the most time in those positions. Then, the only way to continue to grow your income is to find a new company offering a higher base salary and OTE.
This has been my career path to date:
I recommend looking up the salary for each job role to get an idea of the income trajectory. Simply Google; “SaaS BDR Salary.” Remember, each of these positions typically has a salary + commission component.
Business Development Representative
Employment Duration: 10 months
Transactional Sales Representative
Employment Duration: 7 months
Account Manager I
Employment Duration: 1 yr 9 months
Customer Success Manager II
Employment Duration: 2 months
Regional Sales Manager (New Company)
Employment Duration: New Hire
Go Get Your Income
The average individual income in the United States is $36,000. I was able to earn that with no relevant job experience, no college degree required, and without having to relocate by getting a job as a SaaS BDR. In 1-year, I was earning double the average income and above the average household income in the United States and now I stand to make 3x - 5x the average income. No prerequisites required.
Anytime I meet a young person that expresses a desire to change their current status, I always recommend they learn about SaaS. It’s a great place to get thousands of repetitions, it’s a high failure job and that’s not easy for people to endure day in and day out, but being a BDR or SDR isn’t forever. The typical tenure is about 14 months before being promoted.
At any given time, there are thousands of entry-level BDR/SDR positions available. Nowadays, most of them start with a higher base salary than I did and earn a higher OTE.
In fact, I ran a job search on Linkedin for all of the remote BDR job postings over the past week. This is what I found:
There are over 1,500 remote jobs for BDR. If you searched for Sales Development Representative (SDR) I bet you can find more.
All too often I hear people claim they’re unable to find a good-paying job/career. If this is you, ask yourself if you’re capable of picking up a phone, calling a business, and setting an appointment to demonstrate your product/service. That’s the entire job description of a BDR/SDR. “To sell time with an expert.” If you can do that 50-100 times per day, every day, you can earn a liveable wage with an opportunity to earn so much more.
It’s simply a matter of having the information, setting your intentions, crafting a competitive resume, and improving your interviewing skills. Most people I talk to have never heard of the BDR/SDR or SaaS industry, yet we use their products and services each and every day.
No Prerequisites Required
The majority of BDR/SDR positions will say that a college degree is required/preferred (ours did too), but the reality is that I worked with a diverse group of individuals. Men, women, many nationalities, early 20’s, mid-30s, some were married, some had kids, some were single. Some had degrees while others didn’t.
Some of the most successful salespeople at our company didn’t hold a degree nor did they need one to be successful. Degrees are an industry mirage and often the result of the hiring manager simply copying and pasting a job description from a template. Degrees are useful in determining someone’s ability to grind it out and see a task to the end but offer little indication of someone’s aptitude towards being a successful salesperson.
Having a degree(s) makes it easier to get your foot in the door, there’s no doubt about that, but it shouldn’t be a ceiling for you. I have 3 degrees including an MBA, but I choose to work in this industry because it’s the most money I can make remotely from my home office without owning my own business and I have a natural skillset and temperament for it.
Time to Perform
It’s not enough to simply land a job in SaaS. You’re in the sales department, you must deliver value to the company in order to keep your job, promote and earn the higher tier income.
The majority of SaaS companies will train you on what you need to know to be successful, after that, it’s up to you to continue to improve, to be coachable, and to show up every day.
If you can show performance metrics that illustrate your ability to meet and exceed quota, then you can write your own ticket in this industry. I know people making $150k + per year as a software salesperson, I know people making $150k+ per year selling copiers, and people making $150k per year selling semi-trucks. Sales is one of the most valuable skillsets you can learn and are transferrable from industry to industry.
One of the reasons I left the military is because I was surrounded by people working half as hard as me and enjoying all of the benefits and pay that I was. It never sat well with me. In sales, you are an individual contributor and capable of earning as much as you’re able to earn within your companies sales environment. I prefer the challenge, the competitiveness, and the fruits of my labor.