What’s the Difference Between a BDR and SDR in Sales?


Sales is a bit more complex of an industry than some people realize. Being successful in this field, like any, involves taking the time to define the right roles and make sure that you have people in the correct positions to leverage the best chances of success. A sales team is made up of several different roles. Some organizations may have different roles or team members than others, but almost every organization can benefit from the roles of a BDR and an SDR, respectively. 

Known as Business Development Representatives and Sales Development Representatives, respectively, BDRs and SDRs have a special role in business that allows them to be integral parts of the inbound and outbound prospecting and sales process. Along with your account executives and sales managers, these people are a critical part of the team for any company that needs a solid sales group. 

Some companies may combine these two roles into one job, while others may outsource the roles, but the exact function of each is a little different, which is why they’re listed as separate roles. Once a company is large enough, it’s essential to separate these roles because one person will not be able to manage it all. So, what are each of these roles and what do they do for your sales team? Let’s take a look. 

Business Development Representatives

The BDR is a role that is designed to help with lead generation, typically on an outbound basis. They identify potential opportunities and brainstorm ideas for new leads and prospecting. They also build relationships and turn cold leads to warm ones, using various methods of outbound marketing. 

Business development representatives can generate leads from search engines, social media, cold calling and emailing, networking, and so much more. The options are only as limited as the creativity of your BDR(s). 

Sales Development Representatives

The Sales Development Rep, or SDR, is an inbound prospecting role. SDRs focus on warm leads, such as email and newsletter signups, incoming social media contacts, referrals, and so forth. They may also field leads generated by the BDR(s), and they will be responsible for further qualifying leads and figuring out which ones are profitable and worth following. 

Lead scoring helps SDRs determine which prospects should be moved along the sales pipeline and which leads should be abandoned because they’re not going to be fruitful for the business. While all companies may have their own methods for lead scoring, you should always consider the best practices set by industry standards so that your SDRs are performing at their best. 

The difference is minimal

Some people are almost annoyed at the fact that these two roles are classified differently because the difference seems so minute in the grand scheme of things. However, the approach for outbound prospecting is quite different than the approach for inbound lead qualification and relationship building, so it’s essential to note the differences. Not only that, but it’s a big enough distinction that enterprise-level companies may find themselves needing separate SDRs and BDRs and may even have a team of each if they grow enough. 

Both of these positions are considered junior-level positions, and may even be offered to entry-level people based on their sales experience and background. It’s important that in either case, your BDRs and SDRs are organized, persistent, and dedicated to getting the results that your company needs from lead generation. Working together, they create a dynamic solution that can change the way your business handles generating new business and cultivating your leads. 

The power of a well-planned sales team

There is a reason that there are so many different roles on the average sales team. One person cannot do it all, and they shouldn’t. If your business is growing, the first thing that you want to do is start expanding your sales team and fulfilling all the right roles. You can even check out our article on the definitions for the 10 most common sales team roles to get more insight about who should be on your team and why. 

Your sales team needs to work together with everyone having designated roles and responsibilities. Your BDRs are going to get the leads in the door, while the SDRs are going to make sure they stay until the buying journey is complete. It’s a joint effort and while it can be done by one person, it’s often best split between the inbound and outbound efforts for a more dedicated focus. 

In business, you are nothing if you don’t have an effective sales team and that starts at the bottom—your lead generation team has to be able to bring in the business in the first place. That’s why BDRs and SDRs are such critical roles to fill. Guided selling tools even divide the tasks and ensure that all reps are getting the right signals and information to deliver the ideal presentation to any audience or potential customer, lead, or opportunity. 

If you’re not quite ready to invest in a full sales team, these are two roles that you need to have. Even if you combine them at first, make sure that you’ve got a set role for each part of the job and that whoever you hire can fulfill their role. 

Or, partner with Smith.ai and skip the confusion of collecting the right reps 

Perhaps you’re still too small-scale to afford both an SDR and a BDR. Maybe you’re just not ready for a full-scale sales team, but you need help with outbound sales and support, lead intake and scheduling, or even collecting payments from your prospects and clients. Do you have the team, but you just need some help with overflow or Outreach Campaigns? In any case, the 24/7 virtual receptionists at Smith.ai can help with everything that you need.

Schedule a consultation to learn more about the admin and sales solutions from Smith.ai that can help your business. You can also reach us at hello@smith.ai or (650) 727-6484. 

Sales Development
Sales Tips
Lead Generation
Written by Sean Lund-Brown

Sean Lund-Brown is a current Marketing Assistant for Smith.ai. A graduate from Metropolitan State University of Denver, Sean graduated with a BA in Music and an individualized degree in Teaching Vocal Pedagogy.

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