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Review of Coursera’s Salesforce Sales Development Representative Professional Certificate

With reports predicting more than 50,000 Sales Development jobs in the United States on an average salary of $64,000, and Sales Development Representatives (SDRs) becoming the frontline of tech businesses, is Coursera's Salesforce Sales Development Representative Professional Certificate the right choice for those wanting to start on this path?

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Coursera Professional Certificate – Coursera's Salesforce Sales Development Representative: Our Verdict (2023)

Course Rating

3.5 / 5

The Salesforce Sales Development Representative Professional Certificate is a well-structured and detailed program for anyone aiming for a career in sales. It is adaptable and can be taken up by anyone, whether it’s someone who wants to change career paths or someone who already has sales experience but would like to enhance their skills. It introduces you to sales cycles, Salesforce and its many tools, along with teaching you some essential soft skills such as self-confidence, networking, developing the right mindset, and becoming rejection-proof. It is a good option for anyone wishing to tap into the industry that will create thousands of jobs by 2024.

Pros

  • Good for beginners with no tech experience
  • Includes building soft skills such as confidence, financial freedom, and developing mindsets
  • Assessment via projects that can be added to your portfolio
  • Practical resources for landing your first job as an SDR

Cons

  • Technical issue with accessing some lecture videos
  • Most discussion prompts are empty, so you can’t interact with classmates
  • Peer-graded assignments have a long wait time
  • Some redundant content across courses

Time-limited offer
$200 USD off your first year of Coursera Plus Annual (expires 14 January 2024)
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The role of Sales Development Representative (SDR) has seen a huge rise in 2023, and the demand for professionals in this role is ever-increasing. As more and more services and products become available online, businesses want more and more SDRs to pitch in their expert advice and techniques. With this development, a whole lot of resources have materialized to help individuals wishing to step foot into this world. One such learning resource is the Salesforce Sales Development Representatives Professional Certificate on Coursera.

In this Professional Certificate, instructors from SV Academy and Salesforce have joined hands to help you access the best path toward a rewarding career in tech sales. Where SV Academy teaches you the theoretical part of the SDR role, Salesforce steps in to show you exactly how it can all be done on the world’s #1 CRM platform. Going one step beyond, the instructors help students tap into their potential by providing guidance on soft skills such as communication, confidence, networking, mindsets, and more topics that are seldom covered in other courses.

This program requires the students to have an open mind toward new technologies and be motivated to grow personally and professionally. In this review, we’ll look at what this Coursera certificate offers and whether it is a good fit for your future career.

Table of Contents

Homepage for the Salesforce Sales Development Representative Professional Certificate
Homepage for the Salesforce Sales Development Representative Professional Certificate

Overview of the Salesforce Sales Development Representative Professional Certificate

The aim of this program is to educate the students about the purpose of the Sales Development Representative role and how they can succeed at it. Its syllabus is divided into five courses, all of which can be easily understood by beginners as well. I had access to the full paid program, so I was able to submit the peer-reviewed assignments and quizzes. However, you also have the option to audit the course, in which case you will have access to all the material except the graded assignments and won’t receive a certificate at the end. You can use this option if you just want to learn and have no need for a certificate or even if you want to see how the program is before buying it.

The first course begins by explaining the evolution of the tech industry, the sales disciplines as a whole, and the everyday life of an SDR. Right after this, it jumps into how one can adopt a winning professional mindset, use time management and task prioritization to achieve goals, and lastly, how one can collaborate in a team.

Within four weeks, the second course will help develop an understanding of the ever-evolving tech industry and how one can use it to create long-term career plans. Next, it touches upon an important topic of creating a personal story that helps you connect with your audience and makes you stand out from the crowd. The last two modules help one create a powerful resume and LinkedIn profile, along with lessons on the interview process.

The third course jumps back into sales and starts by explaining the Conversational Selling methodology, a technique that allows a salesperson to create prospects and efficiently qualify them across multiple channels like phone, email, social media, and more. Next, it explains how focusing on emotional intelligence can enhance one’s experience while dealing with customers. The last module only has one lesson on generating a multi-channel sales strategy to reach prospects.

Overview of courses in the Salesforce Sales Development Representative Professional Certificate
Courses in the Salesforce Sales Development Representative Professional Certificate

Salesforce finally comes up during the fourth course. In the first week, the instructors explain why tech tools are important for sales in today’s world and how to keep up to date with the latest ones. In the next week, it will introduce Salesforce and its different tools that can be used to optimize, strategize, and interact creatively. It even introduces the Artificial Intelligence tools available for closing more deals!

This Professional Certificate closes off with a course on communication and the best way to use it to navigate professional relationships and enhance your career.

Level and prerequisites

This is a beginner-level certificate, and no prior experience or degree is required. All the concepts are taught from scratch and explained in detail with the help of lecture videos, readings, and hands-on exercises. Some readings are provided within the Coursera platform, while more resources are linked at the relevant places for the students who want to dive deeper and gain some extra knowledge.

Reading materials within the Coursera platform along with external links for additional resources
Reading within the Coursera platform along with external links for more resources

Some technical knowledge would be helpful to understand terms such as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and Social Selling Index (SSI) and how they work. However, even if this is the first time you’re about to step into the tech world, you don’t have anything to worry about! The instructors have explained such terms across multiple lectures, and since all the courses are self-paced, you can take as much time as you need for your understanding.

If you’re familiar with the sales cycle and the role of a Sales Development Representative (SDR), you’ll achieve a head start as the first course in this Professional Certificate mostly explains these processes. You can look at the overview and only choose to take the lectures that teach you something new, saving you time and money!

How much does the Professional Certificate cost?

If you already have a Coursera Plus subscription, you’ll find that you can take this course without any additional cost. The Coursera Plus subscription is only $59 per month and includes thousands of courses from 275+ leading universities and companies, which can earn you job-ready certificates, including the Salesforce Sales Development Representative Professional Certificate. If you complete this course at the estimated pace, it will cost you $177 by the end of the third month.

Promotional image or banner for the Coursera Plus subscription
Coursera Plus subscription

Coursera also gives you another option to purchase only this particular Professional Certificate at $49 per month, which would total $147. If you’re only interested in gaining this certificate and think you would not be using Coursera for any other course, then this is the recommended option, as it can save you at least $30 compared to the previous plan.

However, if you would like to regularly use Coursera for your learning, then there’s no doubt that the Coursera Plus subscription provides you with a lot more at a negligible price, and you shouldn’t think twice before getting that!

I have provided you with a total of three months for each plan, but, as mentioned before, these courses are self-paced. You can complete these courses in one or two months instead of three and actually end up paying less than expected. You also get a 7-day free trial at the beginning of your purchase. Any certificates you gain during these seven days are completely free, and the cancellation comes without any additional cost.

Promotional offer: 7-day free trial upon purchasing
7-day Free Trial upon purchasing

Moreover, you can also apply for financial aid, which can give you up to 75% off the original price. You would need to give some details about why you require the aid, and it can take up to 16 days to process.

Syllabus overview

The complete certificate program has five courses:

  1. Groundwork for Success in Sales Development
  2. Foundations for Interviewing with Confidence
  3. Conversational Selling Playbook for SDRs
  4. Boosting Productivity through the Tech Stack
  5. Practical Guide to Navigating Professional Relationships

The courses are four to five weeks long, all building upon one another. They have lecture videos, readings, graded quizzes, discussion prompts, and peer-reviewed assignments. In the peer-graded assignments, you first submit your answers and then grade other students’ submissions to receive your own results. Your assignment is graded within 7 to 10 days as long as at least one of your peers reviews it.

Peer-graded assignments submission page
Submission page for peer-graded assignments

In the fourth course, there are some hands-on projects linked with Trailhead, the learning platform provided by Salesforce. You complete the module on your Trailhead account and then enter the account ID so Coursera can check and mark it as done.

Inputting Trailhead account ID to verify the completion of the Trailhead module
Entering Trailhead account ID to verify the completion of the Trailhead module

Who are the instructors?

This Professional Certificate is offered by SV Academy in partnership with Salesforce. There is a list of 20 instructors on the certificate’s home page, where five of them are from Salesforce, and the rest are from SV Academy.

SV Academy is an organization dedicated to helping people start their careers in tech and make it easier for them to, perhaps one day, become leaders in Silicon Valley. They have created this Professional Certificate to prepare the student for an entry-level SDR role in a tech company by teaching them the required technical skills but then also going above and beyond to teach them the mindset and skills for fast promotion and giving them access to a high-caliber community of senior industry mentors.

List of instructors for one of the courses
Instructors’ list for one of the courses

Detailed review of the course

Course structure

This certificate has five courses. The first two courses are four weeks long and estimated to be completed in less than 20 hours, while the next are five weeks long. Each week is like a module, and you can cover the content faster or slower than the estimated time based on your learning ability. Most of the weekends with a peer-graded assignment where you are presented with a scenario-based question, and you need to use your creativity and learning to answer in the best possible way. Next, you review your peer’s assignments and wait for them to review yours in order to get your grade back. Some weeks also conclude with a graded quiz which requires you to score more than 80% to pass.

Screenshot of the first graded quiz in the program
The first graded quiz of this program

The courses start with a course and instructor introduction followed by a PDF of the course syllabus provided by SV Academy. It is recommended to go through this PDF to get an overview of what the course will contain and what the instructors expect from your end, e.g., your aim for excellence, professionalism, a learner’s mindset, and so on. Followed by this, there is a discussion prompt titled, “Meet and Greet”, giving the students an opportunity to interact with their classmates.

Participating in a Meet and Greet activity to introduce yourself
Introducing yourself through Meet and Greet

Other than the videos, discussion prompts, quizzes, and assignments, the courses also contain readings, and in the fourth course, there are links to Trailhead modules where students can complete hands-on projects.

Course 1: Groundwork for Success in Sales Development

In the first week of this course, the student comes across the SDR role and what the daily workflow looks like for them. Lesson 1 describes the tech ecosystem and what Software-as-a-Service means, while Lesson 2 touches upon the sales discipline as a whole and the reason for having sales development activities in an organization.

The second week goes in a different direction and introduces four soft skills that every professional must develop. This includes understanding and adapting the right mindset, learning to overcome rejection or handle failure, defining habits to strengthen self-confidence, and giving and receiving feedback. For each skill, there is a discussion prompt where the student can read other students’ viewpoints and leave comments. There are also practice quizzes to assess how well you’ve understood each one.

Participating in a practice quiz about becoming Rejection Proof
Practice quiz about becoming Rejection Proof

The third week talks about developing strategies for time management that can yield results in both the professional and personal lives of the student. It aims to build an understanding of SMART goals and why the metrics are important when setting down goals. Next, it gives the students an opportunity to understand their own working style and energy pattern by providing an Energy Tracker Playbook. After identifying the patterns, the students are then encouraged to use them to manage time. Lastly, it introduces the 80:20 principle and provides more playbooks for time management and prioritization.

Cover or snapshot of the Energy Tracker Playbook provided by SV Academy
Energy Tracker Playbook provided by SV Academy

The course closes off with lessons on taking accountability, demonstrating curiosity, and excelling through collaboration and competition. It aims to teach the students that they are 100% responsible for their own mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being, and they should devise plans to make sure they’re in the best possible shape.

Course 2: Foundations for Interviewing with Confidence

Continuing with the trend of the previous course, this course starts off with a bit of technical talk and then builds upon soft skills again. The reason for this, as also defined in the first week of this course, is that tech sales are a human-centered discipline. Empathy, communication, and trust-building: these are some very important skills when it comes to connecting with customers.

In the second week, a worksheet provided by SV Academy encourages you to empathize with your interviewers as it’s the first step towards tackling any interview. Next, it provides a Confidence Workbook which has a very detailed view of the type of questions in an interview and what the company is actually looking for in the answers. The rest of the week talks about telling your story the right way so you can stand out in the crowd and avoid “scripted-ness”.

Cover or snapshot of the workbook designed to empathize with your interviewer
Workbook to empathize with your interviewer

The third week ties the learnings back to an SDR role and gives you the resources to create a compelling resume and LinkedIn profile specifically for an SDR role. The last week comes back to the interview processes and talks about the stages of a tech interview. It again talks in detail about the most common questions in an interview, the right terminology for the role you’re applying for, and writing “Thank you” emails.

Course 3: Conversational Selling Playbook for SDRs

After reviewing the syllabus, you’ll see that the third course is aimed at teaching students the non-technical side of the tech industry. This course talks about the Conversational Selling Methodology, a technique created by SV Academy. This is a very detailed course on how you can identify and qualify your prospects and retain them for a long time.

Excerpt from a page of the Syllabus PDF provided by SV Academy
A page from the Syllabus PDF provided by SV Academy

The first week talks about the four action steps included in the Conversational Selling Methodology:

  1. Understanding customer needs by asking the right questions instead of forcing anything upon them.
  2. Building trust and credibility.
  3. Develop the skill of empathetically listening to the customer.
  4. Provide value to the customers.

Before these steps, however, it’s important for an SDR to define what kind of customers they want to target. This is what Week 2 helps you identify by introducing you to the Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) and buyer persona. Using this information, SDRs can begin the process of targeting the right leads and qualifying them by strategically asking questions.

Week 3 helps you get leads from multiple channels, including phone, email, video, and social media. A LinkedIn Prospecting Playbook is provided to aid you in building a network and targeting high-value prospects. With sales come rejection and challenges, which is why Week 4 gives you a push towards emotional intelligence. It talks about building self-confidence and embracing “near-wins.” It provides resources that the student can use to stay motivated and mindful as an SDR. The last lesson again talks about the importance of empathy in an SDR role.

External resource provided to create a Motivation Matrix for staying motivated as an SDR
An external resource provided to create a Motivation Matrix in order to stay motivated as an SDR

Course 4: Boosting Productivity through the Tech Stack

The first week of this course is just a basic introduction to the tech industry and why we need tech for sales, followed by how the students can adapt to tech tools if they’re not tech-savvy. In Week 2, you get some exciting projects to work on Trailhead. Initially, it starts with simple modules such as “Introduction to Trailhead” and “Introduction to Salesforce” and then slowly moves towards the hands-on projects. All of these are very basic, so you don’t have to worry, even if you’ve never worked with Salesforce before. This is the only part of this program that works with Salesforce.

Participating in a Trailhead challenge, a hands-on project
A Trailhead challenge (hands-on project)

In the third week, you get introduced to the basic principles of data enrichment and call analysis tools, followed by the process of finding prospects through LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator tool. The fourth week is short and only covers videos about Sales Engagement tools. The last week of this course explains Social Selling and Video Prospecting tools along with an overview of the LinkedIn InMail feature and how it compares to other email clients.

The last three weeks only have lecture videos about the tools without any hands-on practice. Each week ended with an assignment or quiz to gauge how well the student understood the concept.

Course 5: Practical Guide to Navigating Professional Relationship

As the name indicates, this course is aimed at helping you navigate professional relationships. In Course 3, there is a focus on using conversation to connect with customers. In this course, the focus is on using conversation to connect with your colleagues or your senior management in order to get benefits in your career.

The first week briefly talks about building your brand and moves on to communicating effectively with managers and teammates. The last lesson of the course repeats a previous lesson on communicating with prospects and customers empathetically before closing off with a graded quiz.

The second week teaches you how to master conversations by adding energy and enthusiasm to your body language, delivering your message with skills and clarity, and actively listening. A new concept of “mirroring” is introduced in which you adapt the opposite person’s conversation style in an attempt to connect with them more deeply.

The third week moves from conversation through speaking to the conversation through writing. The lessons define the different parts of a business email such as starting with action items, focusing on concision, and making the follow-up easy. An eleven-page Business Writing Workbook provides you with step-by-step instructions as well as samples of different types of emails.

Example of the approach used in some emails, along with a sample
An example of the approach used in some emails, along with a sample

The fourth week brings in diversity in teams and how it can actually promote innovation and the right way to communicate across the differences and tap into multiple points of view. The main goal, again, is to bring empathy into your conversations.

The final week of this program tells you what you should expect in the first 3 months as an SDR. It directs the students to devise a 30-60-90-day plan for the first 30, 60, and 90 days on the job, respectively. It further talks about building a support system and implementing feedback quickly, highlighting, again, the importance of being coachable. Finally, the instructors encourage the students to take risks in sales and not strive for perfection.

The course closes off with a review of the complete course and the last peer-graded assignment aimed at devising a three-month plan.

Completion of the final peer-graded assignment in the Professional Certificate program
Final peer-graded assignment of the Professional Certificate

What do others say?

On Coursera, at the time of writing, this Professional Certificate had received a rating of 4.5 based on 367 reviews, most of which are from the first course. The first course has received mostly 5 stars, with people praising the content for being easy to get through and educational. Some users have taken the learnings to the real world and given talks and presentations to their colleagues about some methods, such as the 80:20 principle, holding oneself accountable, and keeping the right mindset.

On the downside, students have expressed difficulty when trying to get in touch with any of the mentors and complained about the wait time for getting the grade back on a peer-reviewed assignment. The course is not marked as completed until all the grades come back, and this creates a delay in receiving their certificate.

The enrollments decrease as the courses go on, with the first course having around 32,000 students and the last one in the range of 5000. One reason for this could be students being delayed and feeling discouraged by technical difficulties – as one user stated:

I was not able to complete the Salesforce Sales Development Representative certification as Boosting Productivity through the Tech Stack week 2 is locked and this issue is not being resolved for a month now….”

 I also faced difficulties while accessing some lectures as it would redirect to an empty page stating that Coursera was down for maintenance even though the site was up and running in all other areas.

Redirection from a lecture as indicated in the URL bar
Redirect from a lecture as highlighted in the URL bar

Alternatives and complements to this Certificate

There is an Udemy course, The Ultimate Sales Development Rep Training Program, which covers many of the same topics, starting with an overview of sales careers, mindsets, and moving to tools and technologies covering CRMs, social media, and lead sourcing through LinkedIn. An obvious difference is the absence of Salesforce in the syllabus. Other than that, it clearly does not go into as much detail and does not have peer-graded assignments – this course is estimated to be 12 hours long. However, it costs $84.99, with frequent discounts up to 80%.

Udemy course suggested as an alternative option
Udemy course that can be taken as an alternative

Other than this, a bunch of readings are available on the web that cover all these topics, such as Freshworks, Builtin, Vouris, and many more. All these can be complemented with the course.

The hands-on projects included in this Professional Certificate are on Trailhead, which is a free learning platform provided by Salesforce. Even without enrolling in this certificate on Coursera, you can go ahead and create an account on Trailhead and complete projects without any cost. However, with the course, you’ll get an ordered list of relevant modules that you can complete. Without it, you’d have to create your own syllabus and stick to it.

Free Trailhead module example

Is the Salesforce Sales Development Representative Professional Certificate worth the money?

As the whole world moves towards digitalization, it should be no surprise that new roles such as Sales Development Representative are being introduced, which require you to do all the same sales work but on a computer.  According to the 2023 Lightcast Job Postings Report, there are 51,000+ job openings in Sales Development in the United States alone. So, if you’re in sales and you want to adapt to today’s world, then gaining this Professional Certificate is the way to go.

With all the new services and products constantly being released in the tech industry, it might be hard to decide what you should invest your time or money in and which tool would put you at the frontlines of businesses. However, a little research into Salesforce will tell you that it’s not only the number one CRM platform in the world, but it’s also expected to create more than 4 million jobs in 2024. With such statistics, it only seems ideal to use Salesforce to enter into the world of Tech Sales.

This certificate ties all of this together: teaching you about the process of digitalizing your sales work and also doing so through Salesforce. Apart from this, it also promises to prepare you for a career in Sales Development by providing resume reviews, interview preparation tools, and mock interviews. Keeping all this in view, I would say the Salesforce Sales Development Representative Professional Certificate is definitely worth the money.

Conclusion and recommendation

In summary, the Salesforce Sales Development Representative Professional Certificate on Coursera offers a comprehensive curriculum for those looking to enter the tech sales field, covering essential soft skills and technical knowledge. The program’s emphasis on building confidence, communication, networking, and understanding the sales cycle is beneficial for beginners. Additionally, the course provides practical projects for hands-on experience and offers a pathway into the rapidly growing tech industry.

However, there are also certain drawbacks, such as the technical issues and the extended wait times for peer-graded assignments. There are 13 peer-graded assignments, and if each takes 10 days to get graded, it adds a huge toll on the certificate’s completion time. Some redundancy in course content and a somewhat confusing course structure also impact the learning experience. Moreover, despite being partnered with Salesforce, the course mentions and uses the platform in only one module during the whole three-month program.

In my opinion, this course can be beneficial for any professional when it comes to the soft skills it teaches, but specifically for an SDR role, I wouldn’t say it’s my most recommended choice to invest your time and money in, at least until all the technical issues get resolved. There are alternatives and complements, such as the Udemy course and various online readings, where individuals may find more streamlined and effective options to acquire the desired skills for a career in tech sales.

Time-limited offer
$200 USD off your first year of Coursera Plus Annual (expires 14 January 2024)