A Day in the Life of a Benchling Sales Development Representative with Madison Tostrud

Kyrstin Lou Ward
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Sales Development Representatives are part of our Marketing team. They support the sale of Benchling’s software and look for future customers. Today we’re featuring Madison Tostrud on the SDR team. Hear how she applies her love for science and talking to people to her role at Benchling.

Tell us more about why you decided to study life science during university.

Madison: I’ve been intrigued by life sciences from a young age, which I accredit mainly to growing up in Hawai’i - there’s a huge focus on environmental science, marine biology, and geology here. It made sense to start undergrad studying environmental science and psychology at Santa Clara University, but I quickly developed a passion for neuroscience and pursued a B.S. in that field instead. The wet labs and hands-on experience from foundational life sciences courses at SCU were crucial for my explorations of psychology; I looked at the brain and behavior with a new perspective — I learned more about how and why we behave the way we do through biology and chemistry.

Why did you decide to get into sales versus sciences as a career? 

M: My parents have careers in business (consulting, sales operations), so I always had an interest in the area but knew I wanted to study life sciences while in school. I figured I could eventually return to school for an MBA if I wanted to further develop my professional business career, especially after getting relevant experience in the field. Before counting out research as a life path, though, I started research at the Systems Neuroscience and Pain Lab at Stanford University’s School of Medicine where I studied the relationship between decision making and pain in both healthy and chronic pain patients. This experience was crucial in determining my path into sales because while I loved hands-on research and running experiments daily, I realized that I loved talking to people and needed to pursue a customer or person-facing role. Biotech sales seemed like the perfect intersection of life sciences and business strategy so I started looking into sales opportunities.

Tell us about what it was like to be onboarded to a new company during a pandemic?

M: I was pretty nervous to be joining a team remotely, but that fear was quickly diminished. Onboarding is set up so that you’ll learn more about the software and also meet people who can be resources at the company. By the end of my first week, I had already made so many friends on the team and learned more about software than I had in my entire life! I’ve even had the opportunity to meet a few people in person, and the conversations are no different than on Zoom. Nothing feels awkward and it’s like I’ve been hanging out with them forever! Everyone is incredibly welcoming on the SDR team — it’s going to be almost too much fun when we’re all in the office together.

What does a typical day look like for a SDR? 

M: I spend my mornings writing introductory emails to people I prospected the day before. Then I’ll attend our team’s weekly meetings to discuss what we have on tap for that day, week, or month. I’ll spend the next few hours alternating between writing more emails to prospects or making calls to R&D leaders and scientists who might be in the lab. I may have a couple meetings scattered throughout the day. An example of an internal meeting would be a conversation with the marketing team to learn about high-valued companies to contact. An external meeting would be a conversation with customers to discuss how scientists could use Benchling in their lab.

What does mentorship look like as a SDR at Benchling? 

M: We’re a collaborative team so we can freely message SDR colleagues, managers, or anyone at Benchling really, and people are always helpful. We have weekly meetings with our managers to discuss the highs and lows of the week, our stats, and our goals. We also learn a lot from the Account Executives because they understand more about the full sales process.

What is the culture like on the SDR team currently? 

M: The culture is very collaborative. We crowdsource answers to questions, provide lots of feedback during mock sessions, and are always talking to each other (whether it’s work-related or catching up on life)! We also like to have fun, so we sometimes hang out or do virtual workout classes together.

Why should people who studied life sciences consider a SDR position? 

M: If you’re studying life sciences but looking for a people-facing role, you’ll enjoy collaborating with a team who has similar passions and knowledge! The SDR role could also offer many growth opportunities, from Account Executives to Marketing positions!

What attracted you to Benchling and why do you continue to choose to work at Benchling?

M: I connected with an Account Executive who was working at Benchling. I loved hearing how they used their biochemistry background by doing software sales because at the time I didn’t think I’d be able to work at a SaaS company. We had a great call and I knew that if other people at Benchling were like this person, it’d be a great fit. I continued to do research on the company and eventually that person encouraged me to apply.

Now, I’m constantly talking to my friends about how much I love Benchling, and it almost feels like I’m bragging. I never expected to truly enjoy my first job out of college. I love Benchling’s mission, I enjoy working with customers, and I believe in what I’m selling — and that’s really important to me.

Any general advice for students who are looking for internships or new grad positions? 

M: Reach out to people on LinkedIn! Cold calling and cold emailing is a powerful skill because it allows you to network and learn more about companies you’re interested in.

We are at the start of a bio-revolution. Life science is transforming every aspect of our lives, from the food we eat, to the clothes we wear, to the medicines we take. Come help us push forward cutting-edge science with cutting-edge software.

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