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Business Development vs Sales Development (BDRs vs SDRs)

BDRs vs SDRs - What's the difference?  In this article we will dive into both the role of the Business Development Representative (BDR), the role of the Sales Development Representative (SDR), and compare each to the other.

When it comes to business development and sales development, there is a lot of confusion about what the two terms mean, and what the job functions are for each role.

And then there is always the question of BDRs vs SDRs – What’s the difference?

In this article, we will dive into both the role of the Business Development Representative (BDR), and the role of the Sales Development Representative (SDR), and compare each to the other.

What is Business Development?

Business Development is a combination of strategic analysis, marketing, and sales. Business development is the creation of long-term value for an organization from customers, markets, and relationships.

What is Sales Development?

Sales Development is a business function focused on generating new business opportunities through outbound prospecting.

What is a Business Development Representative (BDR)?

A business development representative is responsible for generating new business deals.

This is generally done by reaching out to prospects, using outbound sales techniques ranging from cold emails, phone calls, and social media outreach.

BDR Sales Reps are usually responsible for performing their own research and qualifying the prospects to either close themselves or hand off to a more senior sales rep (such as an account executive).

What is a Sales Development Representative (SDR)?

A sales development representative is responsible for qualifying potential customers.

This is generally done by speaking with inbound leads, those that come in from marketing efforts through your website, events, or similar inbound activities.

SDRs are usually responsible for performing research on the leads they have received and identifying the appropriate outreach cadences to get the lead to agree to a meeting with the account executive.

SDRs vs BDRs

From the above descriptions, you probably already feel clear. Here are the key differences.

  • SDRs deal with leads that come into the business, BDRs must find their own leads.
  • SDRs work to set up a meeting for the account executives, BDRs may do that or they may bring the lead through the entire deal cycle.
  • The Sales and Business Development Representative must both be capable of researching their leads to identify how to nurture them and get them into the sales cycle.

Five tips for succeeding as a Business Development Representative

Now that we know what a BDR is, here are five essential tips for the job.

Become an outbound selling pro

BDRs rely on outbound sales techniques (e.g., cold emails, phone calls, and social media outreach) — learn these.

Learn to do research

As a BDR you must identify your own leads. You must be able to research and identify the right targets to succeed.

Be organized

Your email, calendar, and CRM are your friends, use them and your other sales tools to stay organized.

Learn how to use value-based tactics to pitch successfully

Learn what problems your solutions solve and how to uncover the lead’s needs for overcoming these challenges.

Be patient and persistent

You will strike out more often than you succeed. As a Business Development Representative, patience and persistence are vital.

Four tips for succeeding as a Sales Development Representative

Many of the tips for the BDR role apply to the SDR role too. The exception, outbound selling is not needed by SDRs.

Instead of repeating, read the other lessons above.

Appointment Setting

A key responsibility of many SDRs is to set appointments for the more senior account executives on the team.

Business Development Representatives, of course, are trying to set their own meetings, but the advice here will work for both roles.

The rep must be able to research the lead, understand their business needs, and craft a sales pitch that will get them interested in meeting.

Below are tips for successfully setting meetings.

  • To be successful in appointment setting you need to know who your ideal customer is and the challenges they are trying to solve.
  • Research their industry and their business to understand their needs more directly. It’s important, as noted above, to know what the general problems are, but try to also learn their specific challenges.
  • Develop a standard outreach cadence and message, but then personalize them to each lead based upon what you learned above.
  • Practice your pitch, your messaging, until you own it. Having a great message, delivered by someone who doesn’t know it, is terrible for the prospect and the seller.

Tips for SDR Onboarding

Note: See our article on SDR Enablement.

The SDR role is stressful and most inside sellers last around a year and a half in the role.

Getting them up to speed quickly is important — hence, effective SDR onboarding is needed.

If you are building an SDR onboarding program, or simply onboarding yourself:

  • Dive into a brief overview of the company’s history.
  • Build a high-level understanding of the products and solutions you sell.
  • Learn who buys these products (the ideal customer, target market, etc.)
  • Familiarize yourself with the sales technology (e.g., the CRM).
  • Identify the sales cadences that work and practice using them and creating alternatives.

SDR onboarding is important — take the time to get yourself or your teammates up to speed.

If you want to learn more, give a listen to this podcast episode with Eddy Morris.

Eddy walks through:

  • The WHY for the program and the goals it was meant to deliver upon.
  • The capabilities that were being taught and how success was measured.
  • How they used real accounts to train reps on research, messaging, and so forth.
[buzzsprout episode=’6092689′ player=’true’]

SDR Technology to Thrive

There are so many options available, how do you narrow down what you need to buy?


Here are our recommendations for what tools an SDR team needs to win today.

Top Dialer

If your cadence tool does not support dialing, use a solution like PhoneBurner, it does an incredible job.

Phone Burner
Top Cadence Tool

You will need a solution like for running email, phone, and social cadences effectively. Logo
Messaging Improvement

We all need help creating messaging, QuillBot can help you paraphrase any text to build better messaging.

QuillBot Logo

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