Finding top talent for Sales Development Representative (“SDR”) positions can become a full time job for an SDR Manager if not done right.  

SDR Managers often waste valuable time talking to candidates who are not the best fit.  Job boards are hit-or-miss. 

After top talent is finally placed, high-performing SDRs tend to get snatched up by closing sales teams or other companies just after getting fully ramped and productive, while poor performers tend to move on.  

The search for the best and brightest can be expensive and never-ending.

This is where University Sales Programs (“USPs”) come in. Several universities and colleges throughout the country offer Sales Certifications as part of a business or marketing major. 

These programs offer a strong curriculum focused on the core skills needed to be successful in Sales. 

If you haven’t considered recruiting from University Sales Programs, below are four reasons why you should start including them in your SDR Manager tool kit.

1. Self-Selection: USPs Attract Candidates Who Know They Want A Sales Career And Weed Out Those Who Don’t.

Many people enter a career in sales because it sounds fun.  It sounds like a great gig; I mean, hey, salespeople travel, wear nice clothes, and meet lots of people.  After applicants buy into that mythology and consider entry-level sales positions as SDRs, they prep well and do a terrific job getting hired.  But they learn pretty quickly what an SDR really is: a skill-based and sometimes not-so-fun job that separates the herd pretty quickly. 

In contrast, the graduates of University Sales Programs come in eyes-wide-open.  They’ve participated in Sales training, completed Sales simulations, worked in Sales internships and learned pretty quickly whether the Sales life is for them.  If it’s not a good fit, they can self-select out (or get weeded out). 

Hiring candidates from these type of programs saves you a ton of time in trying to figure who’s really bought-in to the career of Sales and who’s still trying to find their path in life. 

2.  Training: USPs Produce Candidates Who Know The Vocabulary And Understand Their Role Even Before Hired.

If you described the concept of an “accepted meeting” to your average SDR applicant, would they know what you were talking about?  If you brought up “pipeline” would they think you were talking about sales forecasting or a plumbing issue? 

People who have completed Sales internships and studied Sales processes look at it as a serious profession that is multifaceted and complex.  They spend the time and energy it takes to get up to speed on the vocabulary used in 1:1’s and Sales Management meetings.  They are way ahead of the curve. 

This speeds up the learning process for newbies coming on your team, and saves your time in getting them ramped up. 

3. Competitive Edge:  USPs Graduates Are Typically Recruited By Big Companies Grabbing Top Sales Talent.

Check out who sponsors University Sales Program competitions:  AT&T, Cisco, FedEx.   Big companies know about this resource, and are actively participating.  Why?  Because they know the best talent wins every time. 

They’re following the USPs on Facebook and LinkedIn to see who wins the Sales competitions. They sponsor events and know the faculty.  Once they determine who’s got talent and passion for Sales, they’ll swoop in and grab them before they’ve ever heard of you. 

You may not be able to grab these superstars, but you may be able to pick them up further along in their career. 

Pro-tip: have a recruiter (or yourself) keep a spreadsheet of anyone they come across on LinkedIn who has a “University Sales Program” or something similar on their resume.  I do this and occasionally ping the candidate to see if they’re looking for a new opportunity. 

4.  Sales Demand: The Need For Top Sales Performers Is Growing And USPs Need Our Support To Continue Grooming Them.

Sales is a career in demand.  University Sales Programs need our support. There are several thousand entry-level B2B sales jobs available each year, many paying very well. However, there are only a handful of programs offering Sales Certifications, despite the fact that the profession is growing like crazy. 

A quick search on brings up 39,121 Sales Development Representative jobs. As Sales leaders, we should support these programs as a way to strengthen and support the economy and make great opportunities available to graduates. It’s crazy that no USP’s exist in the San Francisco Bay Area, the nearest is in Chico.  

I’ve included some handy links so you can start looking at these programs around the country.  I hope this helps you understand this valuable resource. 


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