Top professional baseball prospects drafted are typically required to be on a minor league team before joining the majors. Why? It’s so they can grow their athletic abilities and prepare them for the big leagues, making sure they’re ready to take on more advanced players.
Many companies follow the same process with their lead generation teams so their sales and marketing experts can learn the ropes before engaging with prospects who are considering making a purchase. For example, many businesses require their sales development representatives (SDRs) to be business development representatives (BDRs) first so they can learn their company’s sales process and yield positive, long-term results.
There are many other benefits to being a BDR before an SDR. In this blog, we’ll cover:
A BDR is responsible for actively going out of their way to consistently work on your business development plan. This includes making cold calls, sending cold emails, and prospecting potential business opportunities on professional networking platforms like LinkedIn.
More often than not, a BDR is an inside sales position in charge of developing new business opportunities for your company. Additionally, they prioritize building relationships with potential customers to build rapport and encourage them to trust your business.
On the other hand, an SDR is tasked with connecting with warmer leads closer to the end of the sales cycle. SDRs typically work closely with your marketing team to help them identify the best leads for your company’s product or service.
Let’s say an inbound lead comes in through your website or social media platforms. Rather than cold outreach like BDRs, SDRs follow up with these inbound leads to learn more about them and what they want to achieve by collaborating with your business. While these inbound leads may have shown interest in what you have to offer, they still need to be qualified for your company’s offerings, so it’s up to the SDR to reach out and explore if they would be a good fit for your business and provide a positive ROI.
“Being a BDR first taught me how to have a conversation that leads in the direction of conversion. All skills needed to be a successful SDR came from my experience cold calling as a BDR.” – Seth, Rothermich, Sr. Sales Development Performance Manager II
BDRs and SDRs are key players within the sales development process; however, there are more sales experts needed to build and sustain a sales pipeline. Download our guide to learn how to build an SDR team that yields long-term results.
While sales development teams can hire SDRs without being BDRs first, starting as a BDR can help them accelerate your business growth efforts. In the BDR role, they learn to be great closers. Skipping being a BDR and going straight into the SDR role might miss some opportunities to advance their closing skills to generate more revenue for your business.
Here are some other ways that being a BDR first can help them be better SDRs:
They Know How To Identify the Most Qualified Prospects
When your SDRs start as BDRs, they can identify the most qualified prospects that are likely to result in closed business. Lead qualification is essential to the sales process because it ensures that every prospective business chased meets your industry and company’s ideal customer profile (ICP). Since BDRs are experts in qualifying prospects in the outbound sales pipeline, they know what to look for as inbound marketing leads flow into the sales funnel. They also know how to pitch your company’s products or services to warm leads to fit their needs and relieve their pain points.
They Understand the Best Ways To Nurture the Right Leads
Not every lead in the sales pipeline likes to be followed up on in the same manner. When an SDR is a BDR first, they start to learn how potential buyers in your target market engage with different sales and marketing materials.
While you may have a single target market you want to reach, it’s important to remember that there are different buyer personas within that target market. For example, one industry your BDRs pitch may prefer follow-up phone calls while another industry may prefer being sent sales emails. When your SDRs start as BDRs, they catch these audience trends earlier in their sales development career to catch the right prospect at the right time and potentially reduce their time spent in the sales cycle.
They Learn How To Take Control of the Conversation
As an entry-level position within the sale development team, BDRs are constantly learning how they can be better at their job. It takes time for a BDR to gain confidence talking to cold leads in different industries. On their journey, they are bound to make a mistakes, and learning how to overcome that mistakes empowers them to be a great SDR.
The methods BDRs learn to overcome mistakes can go a long way when they are overcoming objections or irregularities with warm, inbound leads. Learning how to prioritize which leads to follow up with and how you treat a cold lead vs. how you treat a warm lead is vital when it comes to handling inbound leads as an SDR. Since every inbound lead is technically a warm lead, it can be tough to prioritize the leads to follow up with. Learning a prioritization strategy as a BDR can really help a BDR transition to an SDR as it has prepared them to go after the right leads at the right time
“Being an SDR first impacted my role as an SDR because it gave me that first cold calling experience, allowing me to learn from failure without any major consequences. It helped me strengthen my calling skills and learn more about how to have productive conversations with decision-makers over the phone.” – Trevor White, Sr. Sales Development Manager II
Sales development, in general, requires many soft and hard skills to yield sustainable results. When SDRs start as BDRs, they have the opportunity to grow in their sales skills to advance your lead generation program overall.
To be effective in the SDR role, a BDR must master the following sales skills:
The Art of Handling Sales Objections
It’s never easy being told “no,” especially when the success of your job depends on it. For a BDR to be successful in the SDR role, they must know how to handle any sales objection that comes their way.
BDRs have it tough because they have to start the conversation with a prospect from ground zero because they more than likely know nothing about your company or the products or services you have to offer. Therefore, they must continue building value to the conversation, encouraging the potential buyer to open up and trust what your business offers.
When practicing outbound lead generation, it’s important to remember that this process is a slow burn because the BDR must routinely build a relationship with the prospect and explore how your product or service can benefit their everyday business operations. While a prospect may keep telling your BDR “no,” the more value they provide your business, the more likely a prospect is to believe in your company’s impact.
SDRs may prioritize pitching inbound leads who’ve actively shown interest in your company but still have to handle objections. For example, let’s say that an inbound lead is generated through a newsletter sign-up form from your website. This indicates that they’re looking to learn more about your company and the products or services you have to offer but aren’t exactly ready to make a purchase yet.
The role of the SDR is to reach out to the lead, determine their sales qualifiers, and explore what they’re hoping to gain from signing up for your company newsletters. From their responses, SDRs can express how your company can support their short- and long-term goals, encouraging them to schedule a sales meeting with one of your account executives.
“It can be easy to fall into the trap of making call after call and thinking you are spinning your tires. Every conversation you have is with a new individual. Keep your head up and smile. They can feel the positive or negative energy.” – Seth, Rothermich, Sr. Sales Development Performance Manager II
Understanding How To Engage With Different Buyer Personas
As we mentioned, there are often different buyer personas within a target market. Understanding each buyer persona in your target market is an essential skill that BDRs must carry into an SDR role.
BDRs tackle a lot of trial and error with their outbound lead generation efforts because they have to learn about the prospect and discover their buyer persona to implement them into the proper prospecting and lead nurturing campaigns. As an SDR, it can be quicker to determine a prospect’s buyer persona because they’re inbound leads generated through digital marketing efforts.
While this may be the case, SDRs must present the correct information and pitch that empower them to accelerate their time spent in the purchasing funnel. With the right content presented at the right time, SDRs can reduce the amount of time a decision-maker spends in the sales cycle because they’re receiving information that’s relevant to them, the industry they serve, and their pain points. This can result in quicker revenue, enabling your SDRs to focus on other leads in the pipeline.
Ways To Keep a Conversation Going
Since BDRs are responsible for introducing and nurturing discussions with new prospects in the sales pipeline, they’re master conversation holders. If a BDR knows how to control and navigate every conversation they have with outbound prospects, they can further accelerate conversations with inbound leads as an SDR.
Inbound leads are already expressing interest in your company’s product or service, meaning SDRs can brush past this stage of the sales conversation with decision-makers. This leaves more time for them to have an in-depth discussion about the prospect’s wants and needs when hiring a product or service provider.
Additionally, the SDR can share relevant case studies with the prospect, enabling them to picture themselves in your customer’s shoes. This adds substantial value to
Being a BDR before an SDR provides significant benefits to your overall sales success. However, it also has its advantages for sales experts as well. When BDRs start as SDRs, they have the opportunity to gradually advance their career progression with your company, increasing employee retention overall. Additionally, this increases competition within your sales team, allowing them to rank in their role and fight for a more advanced position within your company.
When you onboard an SDR right away, you also risk them not knowing your product or service through and through, increasing the risk of high-quality inbound leads falling through the cracks. If an SDR starts their career with your company as a BDR, they have the chance to make more minuscule mistakes without risking hurting the sales development process in place.
At Abstrakt Marketing Group, our SDRs start their career with us as BDRs to ensure they are continuously growing in their sales skills and accelerating the amount of revenue they can generate for our business. And better yet, we help growing B2B companies achieve the same results. When you collaborate with Abstrakt, you have the opportunity to put your outbound business development efforts in the hands of sales experts who are consistently trained and encouraged to grow within their roles, enabling you to spend more time closing business.
Ready to see the impact our sales development experts can have on your business? Contact us today to secure more sales appointments and close more deals!