How to Improve SDR Productivity by Using Interns

Troy Buckholdt
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Are you looking to improve your SDR sales productivity or efficiency? There are so many different little hacks or tools you can use to slightly improve SDR productivity, but the most dramatic and simple thing you can do that will move the needle is implementing SDR interns.

By using SDR interns you can expect to improve your SDR productivity by as much as 50% by having the interns do all the pre-outreach activities and admin tasks. This allows your SDRs to only focus on outreach and having meaningful conversions.

Using SDR interns also gives you a pipeline of already ramped up and qualified candidates that can transition into permanent SDRs immediately. You can funnel SDR interns into permanent reps just like you would funnel SDRs into AEs. This dramatically decreases your cost per hire, time to hire, and ramp time. This allows you to scale your SDR team much more quickly with only the best candidates.


Part 1: Why Use SDR Interns

  • Specialization
  • Research Efficiency
  • SDR Candidate Pipeline 
  • Quickly Scale SDR Team 

Part 2: The Benefits of Using CourseCareers Interns 

  • Course Outline
  • Intern Diversity
  • Highly Qualified
  • Full-time & Year-Round

Part 3: How to Implement a Sales Development Intern Program 

  • Structuring The Internship Program 
  • Example SDR Intern Job Post
  • Setup Dedicated SDR Intern Manager
  • Onboarding Interns
  • Creating Quota
  • Internship Conclusion

Part 1: Why Use SDR Interns


As sales leaders, we are always looking to improve the efficiency of our sales process. This is why we split up the sales cycle when we learned it’s more efficient to have one sales person specialize in the top of the funnel and another sales person specialize in closing. This became the standard SDR-AE model that not only greatly improved the efficiency of the sales process, but also reduced the time to hire new sales reps immensely due to the SDR role being more entry level than a full-cycle sales role.

These SDRs then became the main pipeline for new Account Executive hires since they had time to learn about the industry, product, and acquire foundational sales skills. This setup SDRs to have a much better chance of being a successful Account Executive when compared to someone with no experience. 

The same idea of specializing to improve efficiency and hiring can also be applied to interns. Currently, SDRs are in charge of three main functions. Research, outreach, and discovery. On average SDRs spend up to 50% of their day doing mundane research and admin tasks. 

This whole research and admin function can instead be given to an SDR Intern who can specialize in it and do it more efficiently than the SDR while allowing the SDR to focus on their outreach & discovery which are the more skilled and highly valued functions. 

Just like how SDRs became the main pipeline for new Account Executives, SDR Interns become the new pipeline for SDRs. This makes hiring new SDRs much easier since you can funnel your already trained and pre qualified SDR Interns directly into open SDR positions. This sets your new SDRs up for success when compared to hiring someone with no experience. 

Best of all is that hiring SDR Interns is much easier than hiring SDRs since it’s an even more entry-level position that has little risk. 

Now the new sales cycle split becomes:

Intern – SDR – AE

Research Efficiency

There are three major benefits to integrating SDR Interns into your sales cycle. The first main benefit is to improve the efficiency of your research. 

You can improve your sales team’s performance by having Interns do all pre-outreach activities. It is known that SDRs can spend up to 50% of their time doing research and mundane tasks that aren’t outreach. It’s better to allocate your SDR’s time to result in more meaningful conversations and appointments.

Use your sales interns to do things such as:

  • Identifying Ideal Companies
  • Identifying Correct Contacts & Org Structure
  • Getting Contact Information
  • Adding Data to CRM
  • Updating CRM
  • Identifying Triggers for Personalized Outreach
  • Read 10Ks
  • Listen to Quarterly Earnings Calls

How much do your SDRs cost per hour?  Are their time consuming research skills scrolling through LinkedIn and Google really worth $50+/hr? You can instead allocate this lower skilled research function to an intern who can do it for $15/hr and specialize in it to do it even more efficiently than your SDRs can. 

This also allows your SDRs to focus their efforts on outreach and discovery to potentially double the amount they’re currently doing while also improving how well they do it since it’s their sole focus. Imagine SDRs doing 2x their quota. 

SDR Candidate Pipeline

Use interns to create an amazing screening process. Bring in interns by the batch and select from the best ones to turn into full-time SDRs or continuously bring in new interns until you find the perfect candidates.

You get months to evaluate someone’s:

  • Work Ethic
  • Culture Fit
  • Performance
  • Ability to Overcome Cold Calling Anxiety

How much do bad SDR hires currently cost your company? How much easier would it be for you to reduce bad SDR hires if they had to go through an extensive internship at your company first?

Quickly Scale SDR Team

Do you ever have a delay in hiring when you are pressed to reach a new quota or have a fear of firing a bad sales rep because you don’t think you can replace them in time?

You can always have a bench of interns working for you year-round, so when you get approval to hire someone full-time, there is no delay in finding someone and ramping them up or deciding to let go of a bad rep.

You can immediately ask one of your already ramped up interns to transition into a full-time SDR the next day.

This allows you to very quickly scale up or scale down your SDR team.

Part 2: The Benefits of Using CourseCareers Interns

Course Outline

Students go through our online course in an average of three months. They also read three books; How to Win Friends and Influence people, Fanatical Prospecting, and SPIN Selling. This gives interns a strong foundation to become productive immediately while also bringing new advanced techniques into your company 

Sales Basics

People Skills, Sales Terminology, Organizational Structure, Ideal Customer Profile, Buyer Persona

Sales Process

Sales Cycle, Prospecting, Sales Cadence, Sales Methodology

Sales Technology

CRM, Sales Engagement, Sales Data, Tools

Sales Skills

Research Steps, Outreach Strategy, Messaging, Cold Calling Outreach, Cold Email Outreach, LinkedIn Outreach, Discovery Qualification

Internship Prep

LinkedIn Profile, Resume, Google & Social Media Presence, Interview Outreach, Interview Practice, Internship Success

Intern Diversity

Our interns come from a wide array of backgrounds. This is due in part to the rising cost of college and many students from underrepresented backgrounds seeking a more affordable alternative education. This results in a large portion of our students using CourseCareers as a direct alternative to college for starting their career. 

⅓ of our students are seeking a college alternative.

⅓ of our students recently graduated college. 

⅓ of our students are transitioning their careers.

Highly Qualified

The students who go through CourseCareers are very highly qualified to be a successful SDR Intern. Before any students enroll in the course they learn how they must have excellent written and verbal english speaking skills to be successful. These students then prove their desire to work in sales development by paying a $499 enrollment fee and spending the next 1-3 months learning online at their own pace. This requires students to be self starting and able to learn online with little outside guidance. 

Before the students have access to apply to companies they must complete the entire course. This results in an extremely motivated and knowledgeable student who is excited to finally become a great SDR Intern.

Full-Time & Year-Round

The model we described of using interns as a standard part of the sales cycle wouldn’t work with traditional college interns since they can only work during the summer or part-time. Even if a college intern was a great fit, there’s still a 1-2 year delay in hiring them full-time which prevents you from using them as a pipeline into your open SDR positions. 

Our interns are different. They complete our course throughout the year at different times allowing you to always be hiring new interns. These interns also aren’t enrolled in college which means they can work for you full-time and be hired as an SDR immediately without delay. This is what allows you to integrate SDR Interns into your sales cycle and have them working for you full-time throughout the year, then funneling them into open SDR positions.

Part 3: How to Implement a Sales Development Intern Program

Structuring The Internship Program

  • Immediate Start vs Batching. You can either hire interns as you need them to consistently have a pipeline of interns coming into your company or you can hire interns in batches so they all go through training at the same time. Either way works depending on what the goals of the company are. 
  • 12-16 Week Internship. We highly recommend structuring your internship for either 12 or 16 weeks. This is the perfect amount of time to train interns, allow them to become a net benefit with their productivity, and see if they have a good work ethic along with being a culture fit. It is also good for the Intern as it gives them time to learn and develop expertise in everything B2B sales while not being too long where they feel like they’re not learning. The law also states that any full-time employee that is working over 120 days in a calendar year must be paid benefits. By staying under the 120-day window it allows medium and large size companies to hire interns full-time without worrying about providing benefits. 
  • $12-20/hr. We recommend paying your SDR Interns about 50% of your full-time SDRs OTE. This normally comes out to between $12-20 an hour depending on which market your business is located in. We do highly recommend paying your interns since they will be primarily used for productivity which could create liability issues if they were unpaid. 
  • 20-40 Hours/Week. We recommend hiring your SDR Interns for a minimum of 20 hours a week to allow you to have a positive result on your investment while allocating enough time to get acquainted with the intern in a 3-4 month period. A standard 40-hour work week seems to work best for most SDR Intern programs. 
  • W2 Classification. We recommend classifying your interns as a W2 since it’s legally the correct classification for most SDR Interns. 
  • Promoting Interns. At the conclusion of the internship, you can either promote the intern to a full-time SDR or you can let the intern go. We recommend being transparent upfront about what the intern can expect whether they can plan on being promoted to a permanent rep if they are successful or if they will only acquire valuable experience they can use to get a full-time position at another company.

Example SDR Intern Job Post

Pay: $15/hr 

Hours: 40 hours/week M-F 

Duration: 12 weeks 

Start Date: Immediate 

Location: Remote


At XYZ,  our culture is our most valuable asset, that’s why it acts like a compass to us. We’re fast, fun, humble and bold. We help eliminate time-consuming tasks allowing people to get to do more of what they love. It’s an inspiring, high-stakes challenge that motivates us. We create software, but we hire people. 

XYZ is looking for a Sales Development Intern to create new business opportunities by researching prospective customers for our SDR team to reach out to. To be successful in this role, you should understand how to research companies using a variety of software tools and record the data in Salesforce CRM. If you are motivated, results-driven, and enjoy working in a team environment, we’d like to meet you.

Our SDR Internship program is our primary pipeline for hiring new permanent sales development reps. If you demonstrate you’re capable of being a successful sales development rep throughout the duration of your internship then there is a very high likelihood of us extending a full-time offer towards the conclusion of the internship. 


  • Identify new prospective accounts that align with our ideal customer profile
  • Map out organizations based on contacts decision-making abilities 
  • Identify the correct contacts within the organization based on our buyer personas along with their contact information 
  • Identify relevant personalized information or buying triggers about the account or contact to use in our outreach
  • Clean and update data within existing accounts within our CRM 
  • Assist the SDR team with outreach or admin tasks 
  • Become an expert in our industry, product, and demonstrate your ability to be a successful permanent sales development rep doing outreach and discovery. 


  • Great verbal and written communication 
  • Excellent understanding of the material in the CourseCareers program 
  • Ability to work full-time 
  • Strong desire to become a permanent sales development rep at the conclusion of the internship

Setup Dedicated SDR Intern Manager

We recommend having a single manager dedicated to training, managing, and promoting interns. This could be the existing SDR Manager or an SDR Team Lead. 

The SDR Intern Manager or recruiter could be in charge of the initial interviewing since our interns are pre qualified allowing you to have a very targeted list of high quality applicants. 

This SDR Intern Manager should be the Interns’ single point of contact if they have any questions or concerns.

Onboarding Interns

To keep things simple we recommend you use the same onboarding you would put an SDR through. The only difference is leaving out the outreach and discovery section until later in the internship. 

This allows interns to first focus on becoming experts in the research phase of the sales cycle and reach their quota.

Creating Quota

You should set up a quota of research tasks to make sure interns meet a minimum level of productivity every day. Here are a few different metrics you can track:  

# New accounts added

# New contacts added

# Personalized trigger information added 

# Old CRM account information updated 

Internship Conclusion

Towards the conclusion of their internship, you can start allowing them to do their own outreach and discovery to see how they are able to handle being a full-time rep. 

Perhaps the last few weeks of their internship looks like: 

⅓ time: Researching

⅓ time: Shadowing SDRs outreach and discovery 

⅓ time: Executing their own outreach and doing discovery

If you decide not to hire the intern then we suggest assisting them in whatever ways you can to help them land a full-time position at another company. This could include things such as giving a positive reference or providing assistance with updating their LinkedIn profile & resume with their new experience.

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