From Acronym to Sales Career

SDR Insider #2

SDR: From Acronym to Sales Career is an episode that walks you through the journey of starting as a new SDR with little-to-no sales knowledge, to cultivating relationships, honing in on networking skills, and eventually, creating a career path for yourself.

This episode is a great listen for both new and tenured reps, showing how even though it might have just sounded like a funny acronym, being an SDR helps build foundational skills for a future career in sales or marketing.

For the second episode of SDR Insider I’m joined by Pat Burns – former SDR at demandDrive and now a Business Development Manager for the same client he once worked with as a Sales Rep at dD.

He shares his best tips for moving up the figurative corporate ladder while also creating meaningful connections along the way. His success is inspirational for those interested in moving up into a manager-level role, yet he reminds us he started in your shoes (yes, you!).

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Key Takeaways

Conversations Spark Ideas and Open Doors

Not every sales career starts with a background in sales; it’s often the opposite, which was Pat’s experience shifting from the real estate world to an SDR position. 

At the beginning of our conversation, Pat shared key advice to anyone looking to network or further their career, whether in sales or another industry. He explained that after connecting with a new contact, he would finish the conversation by asking a question. 

“Are there two other people you recommend I connect with?”

Although this tactic specifically is how Pat became an SDR, it can also be beneficial advice when discussing your future and next steps as a Sales Rep looking to advance. 

💡 Editor’s Note: Leveraging referrals is a key tenant of account mapping, one of the core skills required for success in sales. Not only will adopting this referral-based mindset help you in your overall career, but it will also help you in your day-to-day.


Advocate for Yourself and Communicate Effectively 

“For anyone that’s moving from (an) SDR and wants to continue their role in sales, I think clear communication (is key).”

Although sometimes your intentions with your career may seem apparent, it is essential, just like in any relationship, to be clear about your intentions. 

If you are interested in the prospect of expanding your horizons in your sales career, it is important to voice that and advocate for yourself. 

“It’s okay to let them know that being upfront. And then also, I think just finding different ways to add value. So thinking outside the box, you know, showing that you’re interested.”

💡 Editor’s Note: Your manager knows that you don’t want to be an SDR forever – almost nobody does (or expects it from you). Proactively thinking about your next steps is never a bad thing, and it saves you from that dreaded “oh wow, I’m sick of this” moment.


Show You’re Ready to Grow

From that last point, there’s a difference between saying you are ready to be challenged and grow in your career and showing that you are ready. 

Feedback is a large piece of that, “asking for formal feedback and if there’s anything that you can be doing better. I think those are maybe just a few ways that if you’re interested in transitioning to your client might be good to keep in mind.”

Feedback and information are key, so as well as asking for feedback on your current wheelhouse, demonstrate you are willing to expand that knowledge as well. 

“Read articles that your prospects might be reading. Think about… what resources they’re reading to stay up to date in the industry. So I think just making sure that you’re demonstrating a genuine interest.”

💡 Editor’s Note: Don’t just ‘talk the talk’ – if you want to demonstrate your ready to move up in your role, you have to ‘walk the walk’ as well. We talked about the mindset required for success and growth in a previous event – the onus is on you.


Prospecting Never Ends!

I wrapped up our conversation by asking Pat a little about what has stuck with him since he left his SDR position and moved into a manager role. 

He said it’s his prospecting skills.

“Keeping the mindset that you’re calling someone based on the research you’ve done. And then you have something that could genuinely help them” is a crucial takeaway from his time as an SDR that he still uses today.

💡 Editor’s Note: Glengarry Glen Ross popularized the ABC acronym – Always Be Closing. I believe that you should also ABP – Always Be Prospecting. It’s a skill that will serve you forever, and it helps contribute to the cause (even if it’s not your ‘job’ anymore). Plus, one of the best ways to rally your team is by jumping into the bullpen with them and making dials.


Sales Rep new or old, we hope you found this episode and post helpful. We are looking forward to sharing more insights from top performers through the SDR Insider, a new monthly initiative from demandDrive. 

If you are interested in being included in a future episode or have an idea for a conversation, feel free to reach out to Madi at

(00:00) hey everyone and welcome to another episode of s strr Insider insights from Top performers in this episode I’ll be sitting down with Pat Burns who started his sales career at demand Drive in 2019 and a couple of years later was able to transition to his client’s full-time team where he’s now a business

(00:17) development manager this is a great episode that is helpful for anyone looking to move up into a manager level role in the future I’m super excited to talk with Pat and learn from his experience as his career continues upward so let’s get [Music] started hi Pat welcome to SC Insider thank you for being here today hey

(00:43) Maddie appreciate you uh inviting me on the show happy to be here yeah I’m really excited obviously we don’t know each other so this is me getting to know you as well as anyone listening so I think it’ll be a fun experience for everyone yeah like was yeah so I would love to start with um you just telling

(01:02) everyone a little bit more about yourself you know I know you were previously at demand drive as an SDR we’ll get into that in a second but yeah just a little bit about yourself where you’re from I would love to hear just like a little more about you yeah yeah absolutely um so for for everyone I don’t know my name is is Pat Burns um

(01:22) from Marblehead Mass originally um so a couple miles north of Boston uh I was at demand drive from October 2019 um until about I think I left in January 2021 um but yeah so I’ve been living in Boston um for my whole life and went to school in West Virginia uh and then have been back up this way living living in

(01:46) Salem now yeah I mean I love the Boston area it’s such a great spot I was up in Vermont for a little bit of 2021 won into 2022 and it was just so great like we went into the city a lot and it’s just a great area especially this time of year yeah absolutely yeah um and yeah Salem is interesting it’s uh coming up

(02:11) on tourist season so sure as soon as October first hits people are dressed up and the traffic is just off the charts oh my gosh I can’t even imagine yeah it’s it’s it’s a cool place to people watch uh so it keeps it interesting for sure yeah no definitely I wish I got up there around this time I feel like that

(02:31) would be fun um but I would love to hear just a little bit about how you got interested in sales was it something that was always on your radar when you were in school or did it kind of just pop up post scrad would love to kind of just hear about your experience with getting into it just initially yeah um so I think what I

(02:51) first thing I’ll say is that it wasn’t my my kind of first thought of where I was going to be um after I graduated school um you know so I got into another industry I was I was in real estate doing property management for a little bit uh did that for a few years found out you know that’s that’s really not where I wanted

(03:11) to be long term um and so I think this is something that I did getting into commercial real estate and something that I did to get into sales as well so I think it’s kind of applicable uh to a wide range of industries that you want to get into um but what I started to do is just have conversations with

(03:30) Professionals in the industry um so at the time I had some roommates that were a few years older than me uh so I met with a friend of theirs he interestingly enough was in Property Management didn’t like it moved into sales um so to picked his brain and really got his two cents for what he likes about it uh what his

(03:47) path was and then having those conversations um what in my opinion what you’re doing is you’re building your knowledge of the industry um and you’re also building out contacts in the industry um and and chances are I think by and large people want to help other people getting into a new industry um so

(04:06) in those conversations I would just be like hey I appreciate your time uh can you give me two more people that I could I could reach out to and set up a similar conversation um and so in doing that I found out hey I think this is an industry direction that I want to go um and like I said then you you built out a

(04:23) few folks um that you can talk to ideally long term if you have more questions right off the bat that’s such a good advice to ask for two other people who you can talk to after that initial conversation I haven’t done that and I think that’s really good advice for anyone looking to make a career shift or

(04:42) just Network in general because after that initial conversation sometimes it’s there’s not much to follow up with it’s a little awkward so that having that as an option to connect with other people afterwards that they recommend that’s a really good f for sure yeah and like I said people are like by and large willing to help um and

(05:05) especially if you’re just showing a genuine interest you’re not really asking them for anything else other than um what their experience was you know people are usually willing to share uh about themselves um so typically they’re really easy conversations to have and um and people appreciate being able to help

(05:22) someone else out oh for sure and would you say during that time period you were using like in a lot or was it mostly people that you knew personally or maybe connections through friends and family um yes I think I maybe used LinkedIn um to follow some thought leaders uh to maybe get myself more familiar um with some of the the folks

(05:43) that are like I said thought leaders in the industry but the conversations I was using uh more just word of mouth and going off the the people that I’d already spoken with um so I think it was it was kind of a mixture really yeah no I definitely think people are more willing to talk than you would expect especially as someone who’s right

(06:06) out of school it’s a little intimidating to reach out to professionals who might have been in the industry for decades but like I just said I think people are a lot more apt to talk to you than you would initially think yeah and then the other thing is when you’re if you ask someone that you’ve already met with to

(06:25) make an introduction for you that’s a that’s already warmed up person you’re not um necessarily reaching out to someone cold on LinkedIn um that might be a little tougher road to Ho uh but yeah going off people that you’ve already met with uh it turns that into a warm handshake and then connecting and

(06:40) and growing that Network just becomes that much easier yeah and that kind of goes off of what we learn as sdrs and sales is to use the people who you get in contact with and use that as your first step of connection and to understand from there who is the decision maker who do you need to be talking with cuz it’s not

(07:02) always that first person but n9ine times out of 10 that first person can at least get your foot in the door to someone else who might be the right yeah ex so I guess that’s a good pivot into your time as an SDR at demand drive and would love to hear more about that experience um and then we can get into where you are

(07:24) now because I know that you transitioned to to work with your client and I know that that is something that a lot of people aspire to do especially if they have a project they like a client they like uh it’s something that you know is a goal so would love to hear about your time as an strr and then we can kind of

(07:42) get into current role yeah yeah absolutely um so I mean my time is an S strr um feels like starting out it was basically about four years ago now um but yeah I jumped in demand drive like I said didn’t have any prior experience um doing sales elsewhere uh so really everything that they gave me was um put

(08:02) that in my SDR kind of tool belt they gave me all those resources to really get get started and and jump in um I was in the office full-time when we started and I definitely enjoyed that um just having the ability to hear other people’s conversations um you can hear what kind of tactics they’re using um

(08:22) and then just the camaraderie of like Hey we’re all going to jump in and and make 50 60 70 dials today uh so really enjoyed the office environment at demand Drive um and then there’s definitely a sense of of community um for like hey like if you’re new asking like hey how did I sound on that call um any any

(08:40) advice for me any feedback for maybe what I can do differently next time um and so that’s great that’s great feedback to have from I think your your colleagues at demand Drive um and then also uh great to have from your your client as well I think they can give you more specific feedback for how to pivot

(08:57) and objections but I think looking to your colleagues at demand drive for different um strategies in Broad Strokes uh was something that I I really liked and um I guess as a way of saying I I would recommend getting in the office or at least being in the the same room as as other uh sdrs at any point that you

(09:14) can I think that’s it’s invaluable to be able to do that yeah and I mean for me personally like I started during coid so I haven’t had that experience and you know I think that I really have tried to call Shadow as much as I can with people who have been here longer than me and there’s definitely ways around it especially

(09:38) people who are still remote but if you are in the area of wherever you’re working if it’s demand driver somewhere else I think it really is invaluable to get in there and just hear other people have conversations because even if it’s not just a tactic it might be a wording or it might be something very small that

(09:57) you can Implement into your own yeah yeah exactly um and even just like timing like little very little things that um that it’s you really wouldn’t be able to pick up on unless you’re hearing someone else do them um and also like you said there are ways around it um I’ve definitely done call shadowing sessions over a zoom call um

(10:17) so there’s there’s ways to make it work if you don’t have access to to the demand Drive office or or somewhere where you can get together with other sdrs for sure and I think it’s also just reaching out to your team members too and people who aren’t even on your team but that you just know are successful

(10:35) and doing well and not being afraid to do that especially when you’re early on in your career because that’s how you learn and become better MH yeah so yeah and so going off of that would love to kind of hear the process of transitioning from the SDR role to your role with your client and your current

(10:55) role how you got out there um would love to just hear that story and then you know any advice you have for people who are also looking to do the same thing and maybe they’re with a current client they really like and they want to eventually work full-time for this yes so I think um when I started to

(11:13) do to make the transition uh so I’d been working with this client for it was a little over a year uh at that point when they asked me to join them uh directly so effectively the the core respond responsibilities of my role uh stayed the same but I think one of the the bigger things that changed is I was more

(11:34) involved with uh the teams like the marketing team or maybe the operations team uh depending on what it was so a lot of the core responsibilties stayed the same um and then I was really getting exposure to some of the other uh teams and resources uh with my client um and so I think if you’re thinking about

(11:54) making that transition I think a few things to to keep in mind um to to Really advocate for yourself um is you know I’d say just first off be clear if you’re interested in in making that transition to to work for your client I think it’s okay to let them know that uh being upfront um and then also I think

(12:13) just finding different ways to to add value so thinking outside the box you know showing that you’re interested in growing your industry knowledge um as well as as your product knowledge um um so you think about maybe reading articles that your prospects might be reading um think about maybe ask your

(12:32) your your client manager what um what resources they’re reading to to stay up to date in the industry um so I think just making sure that you’re demonstrating a genuine interest um the next part I think is is asking a lot of questions again you’re demonstrating interest in that you want to grow your

(12:55) knowledge Base by doing this um I would always ask a million questions about the conversations that I had so like the weekly one-on ones uh I found to be like a super valuable time uh time spent so basically just saying hey this is what I heard from a prospect I wasn’t able to navigate this objection um what’s your

(13:15) advice for how I can do do that better next time um so I think using that those weekly one-on ones um or those those weekly reporting sessions uh to get feedback for how you can approach situations on the phone better I think that’s huge uh cuz I feel like there’s there’s sometimes where um conversations

(13:36) are presented and not a ton of questions are asked so I think using that time to to get feedback is is really valuable um and then I think also just being just asking for formal feedback from um from your client as well you like hey is there anything that I can be doing better any areas that I can improve upon so just being having some

(13:55) time to maybe maybe it’s like a 30 60 90day review maybe it’s like a monthly review um maybe it’s just like a hey you just ask that question on your on your weekly one-on ones uh but I think just asking for formal feedback and if there’s anything that you can be doing better uh I think those are maybe just a

(14:13) few ways uh that if you’re interested in transitioning to your client um might be good to to keep in mind just in my humble opinion no yeah I think that’s great advice and just to show your interest as well I think it’s hard because sometimes we think that our interest is known especially when it comes to our client or whoever we’re

(14:35) working with but it is really important to just communicate like that is the key key takeaway it sounds like through transitioning for sure um and then also when it comes to transitioning I’m just curious was there anything that stood out as a learning curve for you um so I mean like I said it wasn’t

(14:56) when I made my transition it wasn’t like I was going from SDR to AE um so my transition was largely keeping the same job responsibilities uh but I think if if I had to mention any learning curve specifically it was um how to interact with those broader teams um so for me in my situation I was the only rep at

(15:22) demand Drive um so felt like had support from from my manager on the client side and then obviously my my manager at demand Drive um but just when you make that transition chances are you’ll have access to other teams and just thinking about how to communicate with those teams um how they can be a resource for

(15:42) you how you can be a resource for them um so just learning how to be um a fish in in a bigger Pond um and really just be able to to connect with those other groups in a way that’s meaningful and I don’t think that’s something that’s necessarily going to be laid out black and white I think some of that

(16:03) kind of comes with um with obviously the organization that you’re going to work for um so just really thinking about um meaningful ways to to connect with the broader teams when you do make that switch uh that was something that wasn’t super clear uh but you you you figure it out as as you get connected and as you

(16:21) get more comfortable um in the in the new organization yeah for sure and then I guess going from Str to AE that’s also a transition that people would love to make eventually and I guess specifically when you’re staying with the same company or client what would you say that experience was like transitioning

(16:43) and maybe some of those learning curves going from the SDR to AE position yeah so it’s interesting so mine my position’s a little bit nuanced so it’s not like a formal account executive role um but again so I think as you’re moving up um learning how to delegate I think is super important um so my relationship with with demand

(17:07) Drive I was the person that was managing that role um so I went from really doing a lot of those cold calling cold emailing uh doing that Outreach myself to to then managing that relationship with demand Drive um so really thinking about ways where I think normally you would probably just do those activities

(17:27) yourself um is really thinking about how I can delegate how I can coach how I can pass on what I’ve learned um to to the newer reps that that I’m working with um so it’s that and then also again using the resources at the organization when you’re transitioning into that new role uh so really what I’m doing more of now

(17:49) is managing uh the middle of the funnel conversations um so it’s less uh top of the funnel C Outreach and more talking with the folks that we’ve already engaged with um so it’s delegating those cold calling responsibilities um being purposeful about how you pass on what you know and then also looking for uh

(18:09) coaching opportunities from others when you’re moving into that new role um so again just asking questions communicating and then asking for feedback especially in a new role um because you don’t know what you don’t know necessarily um but yeah there’s just a couple thoughts yeah no I think that’s great and kind of

(18:29) in the same vein I guess uh are there any skills that or lessons that you learned as an SDR that you feel like you still use today in your current role or things that you still do that you’re happy you know you took the time to perfect as an Str strr yes I mean I think one thing I got from demand drive that I still utilize

(18:53) in my Outreach cuz I still do some Prospect expecting still do some cold calling um is keeping the mindset that you’re calling someone based on Research you’ve done um and then you have something that that that could genuinely help them um just knowing that you’re not calling down a list like a tele

(19:12) marketer you know you’re you’ve really done some research you spent the time um and you believe that whatever your solution is your company selling your product uh can genuinely help them so I think that helps to to keep in mind when you’re making these phone calls um because I know sometimes when you’re

(19:31) when you’re doing cold Outreach um it it’s as we all know being as being sdrs it can be tough get a lot of door slammed in your face but just keeping in mind that you have something that uh could genuinely help the person on the other end of the phone um is something that I learned at demand drive and I

(19:47) definitely think about um anytime I’m prospecting it’s um it’s definitely that value ad that is so important and yeah it’s just you learn it as an SDR it’s a man drive but then hearing that it still impacts your work as an account executive it makes it feel very much worth it to do that extra work yeah it’s

(20:08) awesome um okay so going off of that um each episode I’m going to be asking our interviewees just some memories about their early days as an SDR it can be a funny story a crazy story Maybe a good story something that really still sticks with you to this day even as an account executive that you know you think about

(20:34) from time to time I would love to hear if you have any of those stories that you can share with us yeah yeah definitely um so I mean something that came to mind is as again this is going back to kind of like the camaraderie of of being um in the same same boat as other sdrs um and this is Maybe something we

(20:56) were doing on like a Friday or like kind of end of the week sort of thing um but say you’re having a slow day or uh maybe like a slow week and it’s like hey we’re going to stick in the office until either I get a QC till I get a really good connect um or I get an S so like let’s all just like we’re going to jump

(21:14) in here it’s like a boiler room call session like we’re just going to hammer calls until we get a QC or get an S um and just having that mindset of like hey like we’re not going to leave until we get that done um and so I think that’s just something like another mindset to be in is like don’t call to hit a number um call to

(21:34) get a result uh so really just staying in the mindset of like hey like let’s let’s let’s make sure we we’re getting uh getting a result before we we walk out of here and I thought that was just such a great memory that I had from from the time at at demand Drive yeah that sounds really awesome and a really great way to bond with

(21:53) everyone too it’s great yeah well thank you so much PT I really appreciate all of your insights I would love to hear from everything we just talked about if there was one takeaway from everything we just said is there anything that you would say to a current scr who’s looking to possibly transition to a full-on

(22:13) sales career in their future um yes I mean I think I guess final words for anyone that’s moving from SDR and wants to continue their role um in sales is I think clear communication so whether that’s with um folks on your team with the client um that and then just getting cons consistently getting feedback from your manager I think just

(22:38) being really transparent um about where you are and then asking for transparent feedback for areas that you can improve upon um and I think just those two things uh communication and then asking for feedback I think will will take you pretty far yeah that’s great advice and I was honestly going to say the same thing

(23:00) communication was my big takeaway from this call and you know chatting with you it really just shows how important that is so thank you so much and I appreciate your time I’m sure everyone’s going to enjoy listening to this and learning a little more about your process and your time at demand drive as anr so thank you

(23:20) yeah thanks for having me Maddie this is great