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How we hire Inbound Sales Development Reps

Joe Robins
Written by

Last editedJan 20203 min read

Following our $13m Series C funding round to improve our UK offering whilst continuing the quest for global expansion, the need to effectively scale and ramp the sales team has become more important than ever. As a result, we've revisited the way we prepare, interview and measure prospective Sales Development Reps (SDRs) hires.

Within the Sales Development team, prospective reps typically have little or no experience in a sales environment. This is awesome: we can hire people with tonnes of potential who haven’t picked up bad habits and are super keen to learn. But hiring people without experience requires a different type of interview process.

Sales Development at GoCardless is made up of two teams: Inbound and Outbound. In this post we’ll focus on the Inbound hiring process.

The aim of this blog post is twofold:

  1. To give an insight into what we’re looking for in new Inbound SDRs

  2. To equip interviewees with all the tools they need to succeed throughout the interview process

How do we interview?

Our interview process is designed to give you as many opportunities as possible to flourish in real life scenarios. We want to find out about you as a person to ensure that we match your goals and ambitions. It also gives you a practical insight into the day-to-day tasks associated with the role. A typical interview process involves:

1. Phone screen

This is our chance to get to know you a bit and your chance to make a great first impression. The call will last for 20 minutes, during which we'll ask you a few questions and answer any questions you've got for us. The specific questions we're looking to answer are:

  • Are you excited and passionate about working in Fintech and startups?

  • Do you want to work in sales?

  • What do you want to get out of the role?

2. On-site

We'll bring you into the office for a:

Background interview. We use this time to find out about your previous experience and assess your skills against our key competencies. We’ll also drill deeper into your motivations about working within sales and more generally how you communicate.

Role play. Here we’ll conduct a mock sales scenario where you’ll play the role of an SDR getting in touch with a prospective client. We’ll give detailed feedback after the role play and ask you to repeat the exercise (tweaking the situation, slightly!).

Five tips for the on-site interviews:

  1. Research SPIN Selling. This forms a great foundation on how we do sales here. Try and do some research of the SPIN structure and prepare some questions that might come up in the role play.

  2. Be structured. Good communication is really important in sales. Read about the pyramid principle and apply it in your answers.

  3. Be prepared. It’s always useful if candidates can demonstrate some product and industry knowledge. Our Recurring Payments Guide gives an insight into Direct Debit vs other payment methods, whilst signing up for an account is the best way to understand how our dashboard works (don’t worry, it’s free to sign up!)

  4. Keep things simple. One of the hardest skills in sales is explaining something complex in a simple way. Think about why you want to work in sales?

  5. Listen. Good questioning and good listening are two of the most important skills in sales. Listen carefully to what we say and use it to ask intelligent questions.

3. Final round

We'll bring you back in for a final round consisting of:

Email feedback session. In between the on-site and final round interview stages, we’ll ask you to construct a follow-up e-mail to the customer you spoke to in one of your role plays. You’ll be given “perfect notes” to work with, including key information such as contact details, pains and sizing. We’re really looking at your written skills and how you approach and construct a client facing e-mail.

Executive interviews. The final stage of the interview process is your opportunity to meet our CEO and VP of Sales. Come armed with questions and bags of enthusiasm.

Who are we looking for?

In order to consistently stay ahead of the curve, we regularly sit down and review who we’re looking for and how we interview prospective SDR hires. Whilst we have refined our processes and priorities over time, the key personality traits required have always remained. We firmly believe that prioritising these five characteristics have shaped the great culture, team and environment we work within:

Smart. Our product can be quite complex and technical. To succeed here, people need to be smart enough to learn the technical aspects of the product in detail.

Driven to learn and improve. Your drive and motivation to improve are key to success. We strongly believe that how good you are in a year’s time is more related to your attitude than your current ability.

Likeable. Building rapport quickly is essential to succeed as an SDR. People don’t like to buy from people they don’t like and typically make judgement within the first 30 seconds of any call or meeting.

Communication skills. The ability to explain complex ideas simply is absolutely crucial for our salespeople.

Coachability. Giving and taking feedback is one of the most important aspects of our company culture. The quicker you are able to act on feedback, the faster you learn.

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