Interview with Nic van der Tol, Business Developement Representative
How do you start your career in SaaS Sales? What are the daily tasks of a Business Development Representative? We invited Nic van der Tol, Business Development Representative to talk about his SaaS career.
Can you give a short introduction about yourself?
I’m Nic, 27 years old. Raised very internationally. I have Dutch parents, but I didn’t come to the Netherlands until I was 15. After high-school, I studied at the UvA and graduated with a master’s degree in business administration. After my studies I was interested in IT, that’s when I ended up going down the SaaS path.
Can you tell about your professional working experience?
The first position I got into was ultimately through a contact I had at Nobel. Nobel introduced me to several companies, the one I was most interested in was the secure email and large file sharing platform called SmartLockr. And that’s where I eventually started as a sales development representative. Now I work in business development for a somewhat more technical cybersecurity company called Riscure.
What are your tasks during the day?
I have about 80 to 100 contact moments with potential customers a day. That’s built up of something like 20-30 outbound and 10 inbound calls to start. I also send between 20-30 emails a day and have around 30 automated LinkedIn outreaches (connection requests or in-mails) running in the background to people in my industry while that’s all going on.
The dayscan vary quite a bit though, depending on how busy it is. Some periods customers come to you more often. Other times during quieter periods, it’s upto you to go out of your way to find new prospects.
What do you like best? Going on the “hunt” yourself? Or having them come in?
The variety. I don’t dare pick one, because I also like being called, rather than just cold calling. But I like the diversity in particular. Because maybe I have a day where I think, I’m going to focus on cold calls, but at the end of the day, circumstances didn’t allow it and customers were calling me. That also makes it kind of fun and dynamic.
‘’I don’t think many people say they like cold calling and they’re good at it right away. It’s really a skill that you have to develop’’.
Did you find cold calling exciting at first?
Definitely. I thought it was really terrible. I don’t think many people say they like cold calling or that they’re good at it right away. It’s really a skill you have to develop. But I received the right training for that and was helped well on my way from the start. I was also lucky to have a great team of experienced colleagues around me doing the same thing. As long as you feel like you’re having a good time together, then that relieves the pressure off of performing and makes it more fun.
What are the growth opportunities when you start out as an SDR?
I would say it varies per company. But largely the growth opportunities that you have as an SDR are growing into an AE. So an account executive, or a senior executive, someone who gives demos and closes deals. To be able to do that you need to know your product well. That knowledge you can build up during your time as an SDR.
But I’ve also seen, if you really like the technical part, options to become a presales representative. So then you’re looking at how your software solution can be implemented most effectively by a customer after they’ve purchased it, which is a little different than just selling it.
Or if you really really like the technical part, you could also move to technical support or become a customer success manager.
There are lots of possibilities. But of course, it depends on the company you work for.
‘’A founder’s personality radiates through a company so if that doesn’t click, the organization and job probably won’t either.”
What do you think about the alignment between sales and marketing?
It’s quite common to see that the two are loosely related in the early stages for startups. But eventually, the bridge between marketing and sales departments has to be really strong in order to generate business. It’s marketing’s responsibility at the end of the day to promote interesting (industry-specific) content and attract warm leads. This makes life in a sales team infinitely easier, since you’re confident you have a potentially interested person on the line who’s familiar with your company, rather than someone where you have to start completely from scratch.
“One of the most valuable things in SaaS is a good link between marketing and sales’’.
Tips from Nic: