Business Development vs Sales Development Representatives
Learning the difference between business development vs sales development reps is an important distinction when building out a sales team.
If you’re not deliberate and intentional, your sales team will never reach the level of growth most organizations want.
New tactics, better scripts, and even great leads will only delay the inevitable decline of businesses that don’t have a cutting edge process to sell their goods.
Seriously, do you think that we should be using the same medical procedures of time past?
And you shouldn’t be trying to sell using tactics from earlier eras either. Before we get go too far, we thought it would be helpful for you to grab this example sales rep hiring template (no email required!).
Today, we’re going to explore one of the many nuances that your B2B team may want to notice, include, and define—the difference between business development vs sales development reps.
To be clear, that’s Business Development Representatives (BDRs) and Sales Development Representatives (SDRs). Believe it or not, there is enough of a difference to warrant both this post and a separate role in many organizations.
We hope to not only explain why each is unique, but also explain the value of the two roles when working together to create more appointments for your closers.
Let’s get started with the definitions.
Sales Development Representative (SDR): A type of inside sales rep who focuses more on inbound lead qualification, moving leads into and through the sales funnel, qualifying prospects, and setting up sales qualified appointments.
As you can see, there are both similar and different aspects to these roles. Let’s take a deeper look at them.
We’ll use the three major categories that define the responsibilities of both roles in order to explain.
- Research: The things that BDRs and SDRs need to find out in order to qualify leads.
- Engage: The things they do to reach out, nurture, and speak with leads.
- Qualify: The things done to separate suspects from prospects before sending them to close.
This role will likely have some form of knowledge of the lead going into their research.
SDRs are primarily for inbound leads. Most of the data has come in from an outside source and not hunted down by your reps. Typical examples of this include:
- Marketing and Advertising (i.e. LinkedIn, Youtube ads, Webinars, etc.)
- Inbound and SEO (i.e. Content marketing and Organic Search Traffic)
- Leads Generated by BDRs (Some leads may not be ready to close, but aren’t suspect either. In this case, they may go to your SDRs for additional nurturing)
Just because there is little information available from the onset doesn’t mean that there isn’t research involved.An inbound lead could be a quick qualification, but often times it's like a piece of a treasure map. Click To Tweet
You have to do a little digging to find the other pieces and (possibly) strike it rich.
Example: A company has begun the search for a new solution for the pain your product solves. The decision maker sanctions a person or two to help do research. One of those researchers comes across your site and signs up to your email list to request your lead magnet.
While it is a potential lead, reps really don’t have much.
Maybe the company name, the name and title of someone, but other than that—SDRs have to dig.
Pro Tip: According to one study, the faster you try to contact inbound leads (from the moment they initiate) the better your chances of actually getting a hold of someone are. You’re 3000 times less likely to do so if you wait more than five hours.
Your reps will have to figure out who was researching and who is responsible for the decision before they ever start nurturing the lead, score them, and qualify them.
Tools SDRs Use: Social media, email, phone, lead generation software.
While researching and filling in data for SDRs isn’t always easy—BDRs never have it easy.
Instead of finding parts of a treasure map, these reps are trying to dig into the mountain and find the gold themselves. The only research that many may be provided with is an industry in which to concentrate their efforts.
Other than that—zilch. Nada.
Often times, the BDRs are given training on how to qualify without the necessary instruction on how to find leads in the first place.
The challenge of this sales role is also the potential freedom.
Leads can literally come from anywhere. A good BDR will tackle every day with excitement to fill their pipeline with new and fresh contacts just waiting for the solution they may not know about or even want to talk about—yet.
Pro Tip: Every business magazine has a top list of 100, 500, 1000, or even 5000 companies ranked by growth or overall revenue. Those companies are in various industries and will always have competitors who are itchy for a spot on the list. Both the companies on said list and their competition are a great way to prospect for B2B leads.
Tools BDRs Use: Networking, Google, lead software, social media, email, phone.
The way to engage inbound leads can range wildly. For instance, if you can contact a new lead within the first few minutes, then you may have a qualified appointment super quick.
However, the buying cycle of most industries is going to be a longer stretch where people move toward the appointment through the stages of awareness, research, etc.
SDRs are responsible to aid the funnel to nurture leads and pay close attention to the behaviors of contacts.
Some of those behaviors will help reps identify between prospects and suspects; meaning the ones who may buy and those who likely will not.
Others help indicate where leads are in the cycle and when they may be ready for a qualifying call before heading to the close.
Almost always, these leads are inbound and in some sort of a funnel with automated content.
SDRs work with this funnel, using a CRM and lead scoring, in order to accomplish their goal—set appointments.
Pro Tip: Don’t rely on automation to seek out inbound leads that meet many of your “ideal client” factors. Actively fill in the lead data and search out the appointment, not only looking for lead scoring.
BDRs EngagePerhaps the biggest difference between SDRs and BDRs is the way they engage with leads. Click To Tweet
This role is aggressive. The leads they drummed up are now their targets for cold outreach.
There may be valuable content used to generate a response, but there is little to no automation in the BDRs pipeline.
Email and phone are the primary tools that get contacts to respond. Social media can help in many ways, but when it comes to getting appointments, it doesn’t get the job done. We’ve written several resources on the subject of cold email and phone here, here, and here.
Getting responses doesn’t (typically) happen without multiple attempts at contact through both email and phone.
In order to maximize leads, good BDRs will use an aggressive and organized schedule.
Obviously, this isn’t the only way to do it. Your schedule may take more time and should be tweaked over time to land the highest number of qualifications and appointments.
Pro Tip: Don’t automate your content, but do keep a structured pipeline. Understand when you sent your first email and track your sequence like a hawk.
SDRs and BDRs Qualify
The end game of both of these sales roles is to set qualified appointments for your closers.
Undeniably, the best way to do this is to get leads on the phone.
One definable difference is the use of lead scoring (in the case of SDRs). While this process lets you know when a lead is really interested, it shouldn’t be a final indicator that the contact is ready to be pitched.
If so, there would be no reason for SDRs.
Instead, SDRs should have one foot in the marketing funnel and one in the sales process.
Once a lead reaches the preset score, they should be labeled sales accepted leads (SALs) and called to qualify them for the pitch.
Now for BDRs, there is no marketing funnel, but a pipeline similar to the one in our last point (see above).From the beginning to the sales qualified appointment (SQA), BDRs handle the entire process. Click To Tweet
Once a lead is on the phone with either an SDR or BDR, both are trying to make sure the contact is a prospect. Inbound leads came to you, but the outbound leads were tracked down—this should obviously change up your communication a bit.
Questions may differ, but not by much.
Do You Have Both of These Roles?
Given the different nature of these sales roles, it hopefully makes you realize the usefulness of both.
SDRs can provide more SQAs from your content funnel and BDRs can bring in more SQAs that have never heard about your brand.
Both, when done correctly, can lead to the type of growth that scales startups and breaks plateaus of established organizations.
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