How Long From SDR to AE Transition? Skills & Qualities 


If you’re a Sales Development Representative (SDR) looking to step up to the role of an account executive, you’re at the right place!

This article discusses the transition of an SDR to an account executive and the qualities SDRs should possess for their career growth.

Who are Account Executives (AE)?

An SDR pitches the product or service to leads and then hands those qualified leads to account executives. The account executive’s job is to convert the lead to a client and close the deal.

Account executives (AE) manage the sales activities of client accounts. SDRs generate leads and pitch the product, whereas account executives grow those B2B leads accounts to close the conversion.

An SDR sends cold emails pitching a product to mostly the Head of Departments or CXOs.

How to Transition from SDR to AE?

How to Transition from SDR to AE?

Observe and Learn

For an SDR to grow, observing how Account Executives work is paramount. You must observe their working style; how they approach their sales quotas, their sales pitch, and how they handle objections,  negotiate and retain a customer. Shared Inbox can help the SDRs and SEs to learn from AEs as multiple accounts can be accessed from a single space. A shared inbox improves transparency across the team, which would help the SDRs to observe how the AEs proceed ahead with the prospects. 

Improve Your Metrics

Eventually, metrics ascertain if you are capable of becoming an account executive. SDRs must focus on hitting their existing KPIs – for example, qualifying a certain number of leads within a given time, scheduling X number of calls, etc.

Metrics reveal an SDR’s past performance, product pitching efficiency etc. Your keenness in improving your own metrics indicates you are well on your way to becoming an excellent accounts executive.

For example, If you are maximizing the number of leads as per the standards, senior management can drive SDR career growth.

Understanding Opportunity Loss Cost

Time is money 

One of the most important lessons an SDR wanting to transition to an accounts executive must learn is understanding when to let go of an opportunity.

Not all leads are always worth the time and effort. Invest time and energy following up with a lead until a specific time. After that, know that pursuing the next opportunity is better than running toward a probable dead end.

Your time is better invested in connecting with and closing other qualified leads in your bucket.

Skill Growth

To grow and become account executives, SDRs must be willing to learn constantly. When you brush up on skills like lead generation, lead qualification, drafting a successful cold email campaign, and product pitching, you are very well on your way to becoming an AE. 

An AE should be the one who constantly adapts to new technology, new methods of generating leads, conversions etc.

Monitor Your Lead’s Progress

It is easy to spot that one ambitious SDR out of many. SDRs who envision themselves as future account executives automatically want to learn the tips and tricks needed to get them to that position. 

After forwarding qualified leads to the account executives, such an SDR will want to understand how the sales call went, what went wrong, what could have been improved, what he/she can do to get better sales-qualified leads, and more. They are constantly learning! 

With the shared inbox, sales managers can assign a particular prospect to the team members. This develops transparency across the team. It becomes easier for the sales manager to keep track of SDRs’ performance. 

Know Your Product

The foremost thing for an SDR to achieve career growth and become an account executive is to get expertise in the product they are pitching. An SDR should be able to provide complete product information while pitching the product to leads.

Detailed product knowledge enhances the SDR’s ability to nurture leads to ease the role of AEs in converting those leads to sales. 

Time Management

Time is an SDR’s most valuable resource. Focus most of your time on lead-generating and nurturing activities.

It is important for SDRs to create a daily task list and prioritize work from the most important to the least important task.

Furthermore, to stay on top of your daily task list-

  • Label the most important tasks as ‘A’,
  • Important label tasks, but you can attend to them later as ‘B’
  • And the least important tasks are ‘C’. 

The SDRs need to know about the automation tools and software as it reduces the manual tasks done by the sales rep and saves a lot of time. Sales engagement software such as helps the SDR team to increase their productivity; multichannel outreach provides different channels to reach out to the prospect. Automated tools would help the SDRs to be more productive, efficient, and successful in their field.

Are You Crushing Targets

With growth comes responsibilities

Before considering the Account Executive role, ensure you are crushing your current sales quotas or deliverables as an SDR. How you manage work and responsibilities as an SDR will speak a lot about how you’ll handle responsibilities as an accounts executive in the future. Your passion for goal achievement will speak for itself. 

Look for representatives who are receptive to personal development.

Concentrate on sales representatives who want to advance in their jobs.

Many salespeople are content in their current position and resist rising forward. Don’t waste time persuading them of the need for personal and professional growth. Find and encourage reps who have a genuine desire to advance to the AE position.

Must-Have Qualities For SDR to AE Transition 

Product Knowledge

You need to know about your industry, competitors, and your customers. Go deep into learning about the product you’re pitching, the challenges it addresses, its features etc.

Having product knowledge allows SDRs to understand and identify a prospect’s pain points and then confidently provide practical solutions. Account executives work at converting leads to sales, so to work as an AE, you need product knowledge to maximize conversions.

Hence product knowledge is one of the criteria taken into account when considering promotions from SDR to AE (account executive)


SDRs face many obstacles like unqualified leads, low lead conversion ratio, etc. An SDR should be solution-oriented and have the skills to analyze the gaps in the selling efforts. 

Account Executive needs SDRs who can solve these problems with innovative solutions like lead scoring, LinkedIn prospecting, etc.

Probing & Persuasion skills

Account executives aim to convert qualified leads into long-term customers. Understand the problems your prospect is facing. Take time to learn more about them and why they have approached your business at this point. 

For SDR career growth, he must have the skills to understand a prospect’s desire, be respectful and show a practical path of how you can achieve excellent results together before closing the deal. 

Communication Skills (Written & Spoken)

The most effective way to capture prospects and close conversions is by creating hyper-personalized cold emails. 

SDRs should know how to draft emails and nurture the leads to convert them. They must learn how to craft an enticing email subject line, check the tonality of the message, etc.

An account executive role needs to have conversation skills to close a deal.

Listening Skills

Conversion needs listening. If you can listen to leads’ needs, preferences, etc., you can take them down into the sales funnel. An SDR must have active listening skills to advance into career growth. 

As an AE, you aim to convert the maximum qualified leads to customers. Your listening skills help you pitch your product or service to your leads. Listening to preferences and demographic details leverages your lead-nurturing skills and maximizes conversions.

Wrapping it up!

The above thirteen skills are essential for sales development representatives looking forward to upskilling and transitioning toward working as account executives. This career is perfect for those SDRs who want to work closely with clients on strategizing and developing solutions and want to work towards building a brand. simplifies an SDR’s task and helps them stay on top of their targets. SmartReach helps SDRs automate crucial tasks like sending cold emails, following up with prospects, getting high-quality leads, keeping track of email campaigns, and more.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What is the most critical skill an account executive should have?

Persuasiveness helps create buying emotions like a sense of urgency, fear of missing out through your product pitching etc. Being persuasive maximizes your product pitching efficiency.

Q. How can SDRs upskill themselves to become AE?

An AE posessee multiple skills i.e., lead generation, lead nurturing, qualification, etc. Only one skill isn’t enough to maximize sales conversions. With time, SDRs must learn all the skills to upskill and develop expertise to be account executives.

Q. What is the main difference between SDRs and Account executives?

SDRs and the account executives are a part of the same process. SDRs mainly aim at finding prospects and qualifying them. Account executives work at showcasing the product or service and implement strategies to close the deal.

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