Business Development Representatives, or as we call them, BDRs, are a vital component of Klaviyo’s sales team, playing a critical role in growing our business. Being a BDR is dynamic: at times exciting, others challenging, and often requiring creative thinking and determination.
There is no 'ideal' background or qualification you need to thrive in this role: a common theme of successful BDRs is a strong drive to succeed. If you’ve ever played team sports, you know success requires a combination of training, a strong desire to win, and a collaborative relationship with your teammates. Being a BDR requires a similar blend of traits and motivation.
Could being a BDR be the right fit for you? Talent Partner Michael Entwistle sat down with the team in London to see what they had to say. Meet James Buckley, Director of Business Development; John Hickling, Senior Manager for Business Development; and Mafalda Oliveria, Inbound Business Development Manager, all experts in their field who have coached some of the brightest minds at Klaviyo. We hope you’re ready to take some notes, because this team has a lot to share:
"First question, why be a BDR? Is this right for me?"
If you’re excited by the prospect of creating something from nothing, being challenged more than you ever have been before and working as a team to hit stretch goals, the BDR role may well be for you.
As a BDR you are on the front lines of the business, having conversations with prospective customers every day - you’ll be thrust out of your comfort zone and in turn your learning curve will be steep. This will enable you to grow an incredible amount in a short period of time. It’s not for everyone and you will be challenged but there are few roles out there that are more rewarding.
The BDR role is a great way to kickstart a successful career in sales and not only will you learn some great skills that you can take with you whatever direction your career might take, these are also very transferable in life in general. If rejection phases you this probably isn't the right role for you, however if you can dust yourself off, have an appetite to be 1% better than you were yesterday and are hungry to learn then we'd love to chat.
That’s right, business development is very challenging but it’s also very rewarding! Financially, yes, but also because of all the skills you learn which can be applied to any other role (and even your personal life). After being a BDR, any role will seem less daunting.
It’s also the perfect ‘intro to sales’ role and it will allow you to understand if a career in sales is for you. If you like to be constantly challenged, are competitive (with/towards others but most importantly with yourself) and have the determination to keep pushing even when things get tough, the BDR role is the one for you.
"What does it take to be successful in this role?"
The best BDRs I see are maniacally organised, creative thinkers who can adopt a growth mindset. On top of this, having empathy to relate to prospects and their challenges, consistency to create and follow a process each day and the tenacity to get up and do it again day after day will see you succeed in this role.
You need to fully understand you aren't the finished article, regardless of how successful you become, there's always something you can improve. The best and most successful people I've worked with fully appreciate this and have an intrinsic motivation to learn, understand they can be better and want to be.
The most successful BDRs are creative (e.g how is my messaging going to stand out?), are great at time management (able to prioritise and focus on what’s going to drive results), have grit (stay focused and continue to work towards the end goal even when things are not looking bright) and have a good blend of individual competitiveness and team spirit. The most successful BDRs quickly learn how to work well with other cross functional departments, other teams and their team members.
"What advice would you give to someone who wants a career in sales?"
For the right person, sales can offer an incredibly rewarding career where what you get out is directly linked to what you put in. If you’re driven by financial reward, it’s also one of the few careers where you have the potential to earn serious money in a relatively short amount of time compared to other professions.
Seek feedback, feedback is the only way we can improve so have an open mind, seek multiple perspectives and learn from the best people doing your job, spend time shadowing them, be curious to understand how they're successful, then take that away and make it your own.
It’s common to think about sales as an individual sport, however, when you look at it as a team sport (i.e consciously make an effort to collaborate with and learn from other team members, other teams and departments), you set yourself up for success and have way more fun along the way!
"Lastly, why did you choose Klaviyo over other opportunities?"
The opportunity to join a company of Klaviyo’s caliber doesn’t come around too often so it was an easy decision. Throughout the entire interview process, it was clear that I’d be joining a group of truly remarkable people on a mission to run towards huge goals.
We've a proven track record of promoting from within with over 20 BDRs (and counting) now being successfully promoted into Account Executive positions in our London team alone. It's not for everyone but if you want to learn from some of the best and work in a culture that fully invests in your growth & development then you should definitely apply.
Because of the opportunity to grow within the company (develop new skills and career progression) and the people I met during the interview process. Overall I felt like I would be challenged in this role and by the people around me and would have a lot of fun doing it!
Fun fact: During the interview process I shared a list of my non-negotiables and values that I expected from a team. During my first week of onboarding I realised the list matched perfectly with Klaviyo’s sales values (the exact same list!)- that’s when I was sure I had made the right choice.
Thank you to James, John and Mafalda! We hope this conversation has illuminated some of the ins and outs of working as a BDR at Klaviyo. We are frequently expanding our BDR team with career switchers, seasoned BDRs and entry-level talent, so make sure to follow us on LinkedIn and keep an eye out on our careers page for openings that might be right for you!