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3 career tips for SDRs who want to become AEs

Account Executive, Intercom

Kate O'Hanlon

@kateeohanlon

For many Sales Development Representatives, the natural next step in your career is to move into an Account Executive role. But bridging the gap from SDR to AE and proving you’re ready to take the next step isn’t always straightforward.

The skills and mindset required to be an AE are quite different from that required of an SDR. While SDRs play an important role in acquiring and qualifying new sales opportunities, AEs are tasked with taking that initial interest from a prospect and turning it into a closed deal. AEs have to take nurturing approach with prospects – building rapport with decision makers, handling objections, negotiating contracts and more.

“The skills and mindset required to be an AE are quite different from that required of an SDR”

When the opportunity arises for you to apply for an AE role, you want to make sure you have done everything in your power to set yourself up for success and win the promotion. Exceeding your quota and working hard are a given. Excluding these factors, I wanted to share how I personally prepared and moved to an Account Executive position at Intercom.

3 tips for moving from SDR to AE

  1. Pursue every opportunity to run a deal. It’s a great way to get practical experience and demonstrate that you’re ready for the move by managing a sales opportunity yourself. Partner with an experienced colleague or mentor who can guide you through the process and whom you can lean on for advice.
  2. Make it known that you’re keen to take the next step. Be sure to tell your manager that you’re hoping to take a step up. That way they can advise on your skill development, provide ongoing feedback and alert you to upcoming job openings.
  3. Shadow, shadow, shadow. One of the best things I did in preparing for the Account Executive role was familiarizing myself with the types of discussions that our AEs were having. Take every chance you get to shadow them, whether that’s on discovery calls, sales demos or pricing discussions.

Don’t be afraid to make the leap

Making any professional transition can be uncomfortable and even a bit intimidating at first. The best way to move from being an SDR to an AE is to focus on learning everything you can – from your colleagues and from your manager. If you can, chat to others on your team who have followed a similar path and see what you can take away from their approach.


Does Intercom sound like a place you’d like to work? You can check out our job openings here

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