Landing a BDR role without experience

November 13, 2023
min read

If you're here, it's most likely because you're caught in the biggest Catch 22 of our time: you're looking for a first Sales job to gain experience, but you're not getting a first Sales job because you don't have experience.

I know, I know.

Hopefully, this guide offers comprehensive strategies, backed by research and data, to navigate and excel in this journey.

1. Research The Role

A deep understanding of the BDR role is crucial. BDRs focus on:

- prospecting,

- qualifying leads,

- scheduling sales opportunities,

- dealing with their emotions and ego when being told "NO" 100/100 times.

Data Insights:

  • Rejection Rates: BDRs can face rejection in over 90% of cold outreach efforts. That's a made up number, it can be 100% for days :((
  • Success Metrics: Effective BDRs typically achieve a meeting booking rate of 5-10%. A the Enterprise level, some companies are happy with a 0.5% reply rate.


  • Resilience in Rejection: Viewing each rejection as a learning opportunity is vital. The more NOs you're getting, the sooner you'll get a YES.
  • Understanding Buyer Intent: Ask around, why are people buying? When are they buying? What triggered the need? Who pulled the trigger on the budget?

2. Introspection

This is the most important one.

Why do you want to do this? Why would you put yourself in a situation where people tell you to "buzz off" (on a nice day), where success is being insulted by an angry IT Director who's clearly fed up that Zoominfo still hasn't removed his contact info from their database, where I've been told to "get closer to a plant" because I was "wasting air"?

Key Questions:

  • Personal Motivation: Reflect on what draws you to this role – is it the challenge, the rewards, or the growth opportunities?
  • Long-Term Vision: Consider if you are prepared for the long-term commitment and the career trajectory in sales.

3. Read Books

If you've never done it before, learn from the Masters. Prospecting is "the second oldest job in the World" and there's A TON of books out there. IMHO, they're mostly a rehash of any of these:

Recommended Books:

How to Win friends absolutely changed my life and is the reason why I can pay my bills for the past 12 years.

4. Follow the Leaders

Once you've read from the Gods of Sales, time to connect with fellow human beings:

There are legions of people telling you what to do on LinkedIn. As with everything in life, the majority is pretty average and doesn't offer any real substance past the click-bait hooks. But everyone mentioned at the top is legit, is or was in the trenches, and offers practical insights.

5. Badges of Honor

You might not realize it yet, but you may already qualify for a BDR role and already have all the skills necessary to perform. Have you done any of these?

  • door-to-door sales,
  • call centers,
  • Competitive sports,
  • Hospitality,
  • Real Estate,
  • Military.

All of these should be leveraged to showcase grit, determination, GSD attitude, resilience, self-motivation, creativity, managing your emotions, going above & beyond. All important traits of a successful BDR.

6. Free Trial the Tools

Familiarizing yourself with key sales tools is essential in the modern sales process.

Key Tools:

  • Sales Navigator,
  • Dialers (Orum, Salesfinity),
  • Sequencing (, Mailshake),
  • Data (, Lusha),
  • CRM (HubSpot, Zoho)

Mentioning these tools will add to your credibility. By showing you already know, you're anticipating a lot of objections.

- SalesNav is a must, you should play around and get to know it like the back of your hand.

- For Dialers, you should share metric about dials, connect, booking rate, SQL rate, pipeline generated, progress over time.

- For Sequencers, you should talk about copywriting, AB testing your stuff (copy, hours, subject lines), call to actions.

- For Data, how you segment your lists, how you target, the different copies per persona.

- CRM is very basic, no need to expand too much on that one, it's never going to be a deal maker, it's like showing up on the court and bragging about the fact that you brought shoes.

7. Think Local, act Local

See these headline-grabbing, super sexy, glamorous firms on LinkedIn? Yeah, well, they aren't your crowd.

These guys get 100s if not 1000s of applications when posting a job ad for a BDR role. Unless the CRO is your aunt or your dad, your chances are extremely slim. Sure, some of these large firms have New Grads programs etc, but if you decide to pursue, make sure you diversify.

And don't get fooled by the LinkedIn posts from VP Sales saying "they had no experience, I gave them a chance and now they're my top performer". They're exactly that, just LinkedIn posts.

No, you want to join an unsexy, local B2B firm with an already existing Sales team (no Sales team = no training, you're not going to go far).

Think about Manufacturing, Telecom, Medical, Supply Chain/Logistics, Professional Services, Consulting, local SaaS, etc... There's legions of these firms in any part of the globe that are making a killing, very quietly.

And the experience you acquire there as a BDR will be easily transferrable to any other industry and will pave the way for your transition to an AE role (if it's the path you decide to take, which, you should :)

8. Volunteer

Volunteering provides hands-on experience and is a strategic way to build sales skills, example:

  • Engaging in internships,
  • fundraising,
  • working with non-profits,
  • participating in community and industry events.

9. Volunteer part 2 (slightly controversial)

Here, I'm basically suggesting you work for free for a month, so make sure you're comfortable with that. Here's a suggested process to accelerate your job search:

  1. Build a list of 30 local B2B companies (see #7), ideally selling to SMB,
  2. Identify key sales decision-makers (Founder, Sales Director, VP Sales..),
  3. Offer to intern for free for 3 months in exchange for training and commissions (call it $200 per qualified meeting booked)
    • If you can't afford to work for free, do half days and take another job on the side to pay the bills
  4. Update your LinkedIn profile to Business Development Rep and claim it to the Universe
  5. Learn the ropes
  6. Get rejected AF
  7. After 3-months of blood sweat and tears, you should be totally transformed professionally speaking:
    1. knowing how to book meetings
    2. knowing how to cold call
    3. crafting compelling sequences
    4. being uber-organized
    5. master sales engagement tools
    6. dealing with your emotions
    7. dealing with prospects' emotions
    8. understand business outcomes
    9. get rid of your fear of rejection
  8. Feel the rush of talking to a stranger and turning them into a prospect within 4 minutes
  9. Book qualified meetings
  10. PROFIT
  11. Launch your Sales career

This is not for the faint of heart. Look at it as an investment in your career.

Reach out if you need more!

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