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SDR vs. BDR: What’s the difference?

These positions are often lumped together, but they’re actually two completely different jobs!

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So, your business is doing well and you’re looking into building a sales team or perhaps expanding your existing one. Maybe you’ve just been hired into a sales position and are having trouble differentiating between duties. Naturally a sales team can contain many different roles; in a startup sales members typically wear many hats while the larger the company, the more job titles to be found.

At some point every company has to look at the option of hiring sales reps who take care of finding and processing leads. This way qualified prospects can be assigned to dedicated sales executives who will focus solely on closing deals. But we’ll get to that part later.

The people typically handling leads from the get-go are called business development representatives (BDRs) or sales development representatives (SDRs). The exact function of each of these is a little different and, although some companies choose to combine them into one job, it’s considered good practice to separate them once a company is large enough. Let’s take a look at what each one does.

What is a business development representative (BDR)?

What is a BDR’s primary purpose? This person’s role is to generate leads.

Identifying business opportunities is the main task of a business development rep, meaning he or she should focus on finding potential customers and generating interest.

This is a creative position. A BDR spends each day constantly brainstorming new ideas for lead development. Leads can come from anywhere: search engine research, social media, networking, cold calls or emails, and anything other way the rep might dream up.

The business development rep builds a relationship with these potential clients, effectively turning cold leads into warm ones.

What is a sales development representative (SDR)?

Rather than going out searching, a sales development rep manages the leads that have found them. For an SDR, marketing, email, newsletter signups, or potential clients who initiate contact via social media are all key incoming lead sources; they also come from referrals by a colleague or a current account.

Depending on each sales department’s structure, leads generated by BDRs can also end up in the hands of the sales development reps. What is an SDR in sales to do next? Well, they’ve got to figure out which leads are likely to be profitable and which aren’t; in other words, an SDR takes care of lead scoring.

In the process of lead scoring, leads should be rated according to how ready they are for a sale. Each company or rep may have their own system, but there are some key practices to keep in mind when pursuing efficient scoring. Lead scoring is how an SDR figures out whether a prospect should be moved down the sales funnel or abandoned for the time being before more resources are wasted on something fruitless.

Comparing BDR vs SDR

We know ‒ the differences between the two can seem convoluted, especially since in smaller companies these positions tend to start out combined into one. Long story short, here is a simple way to memorize what each of these roles should focus on:

  • Business development representatives are responsible for outbound lead prospecting.
  • Sales development representatives are responsible for inbound lead qualification.

Distinguishing between these two very different roles is crucial for building an efficient sales team as they call for not only separate duties but separate talents. Ultimately, though, both equally help the group move toward a win.

Standing out as a BDR/SDR

These positions are both fairly junior level. Oftentimes someone in one of these roles is just starting out in their first sales job and might not be sure how to be a good business development representative or sales development representative.

A few basic guidelines for either one to follow to be successful are:

  • Keep a schedule or task tracker; following up on time with numerous leads can be incredibly difficult without one!
  • Create a template for commonly-sent cold messages, follow-ups, and responses (but make sure they stay personalized).
  • Be persistent. Someone who takes no for an answer on their first shot probably won’t warm up many leads. Meanwhile, of course, remain respectful and mindful of timing.
  • Be a people person. A socially savvy rep that stays a step ahead of the prospect’s needs and can take the role of a consultant will do well.

According to Salesforce, SDR vs BDR priorities don’t differ when it comes to tracking leads, measuring data, and streamlining processes. Guided selling can help accomplish these tasks and more. Revenue Grid is a great solution for sales and business development reps alike; it automatically captures data to Salesforce and offers a snapshot feature for each opportunity and for the whole pipeline. Each sales rep and AEs receive contextualized, actionable Signals that help sellers to push deals forward, surface deals at risk and keep them on track.
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Final considerations

Neither the BDR or the SDR is responsible for closing deals. They are also not the only titles a lead might pass through in the sales funnel. Other reps in a sales department may include:

  • Lead Development Representative
  • Inbound Sales Representative
  • Account Development Representative
  • Marketing Response Representative
  • Lead Response Representative

After a lead has been contacted, nurtured, and qualified by one of these typically junior roles it becomes a prospect that is passed on to a sales executive.

It’s important to remember that companies with a formal sales process fare better. A primary goal for efficient selling is to create repeatable steps that eventually turn into a sales process. Assigning separate roles for representatives that have different duties such as BDRs and SDRs divides lead management into different stages. In doing so the objective of constructing a successful sales process, which can be repeated again and again, becomes much more attainable.

Read also:

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