With the number of businesses in unique industries, how is it possible to generate new business leads and stand out among a sea of competitors? By integrating business development representatives (BDRs) and sales development representatives (SDRs) into your B2B sales strategy, you increase the opportunity to develop new partnerships and enhance your relationships with current customers.
But wait—aren’t BDRs and SDRs the same thing? In short, no, they are not the same even though the terms are commonly used interchangeably. While they may have some integrating responsibilities, BDRs and SDRs have different, yet equally important, responsibilities in the grand scheme of your B2B lead generation strategy.
Throughout this blog, we’ll discuss the differences between the BDR and SDR through the following topics:
- History of Business Development and Sales
- Business Development Versus Sales Development Explained
- Business Development Representative (BDR) Role Description
- Sales Development Representative (SDR) Role Description
- Internal vs Outsourced BDR Team
- Internal vs Outsourced SDR Team
- Is There a Single Role That Accomplishes Both BDR and SDR Tasks?
Before we get into the specifics of how sales and business development work, it’s essential to learn where they came from in the first place. While sales has been around for ages, it wasn’t introduced into the business world as a streamlined process or structure until the 19th century. Let’s dive in:
In 1752, Benjamin Franklin founded an insurance company that primarily focused on household, prescription-based products. The role of a sales rep with this business was to close business deals and attend routine household visits to collect payments.
However, a big downfall of this structure was that once a sales rep became too successful, they had no additional time to prospect new business opportunities because they spent all of their time collecting customer payments. The insurance industry decided to solve this problem by developing role specialization. They created account manager and account executive roles to collect fees, nurture relationships with current customers, and generate new business opportunities.
After this new business development and sales structure was implemented, insurance businesses saw an immediate increase in customer satisfaction and incoming revenue. Shortly after implementing this structure into the insurance industry, it expanded to companies in other industries—this role specialization was one of the first and most significant advances in professional selling.
Between 1849 and 1882, 180,000 Chinese immigrants came to the United States to help build the intercontinental railroad. As more Chinese workers came to the U.S., so did a product called snake oil. Snake oil was aggressively sold by doctors and salespeople as a “magic health remedy” when it had no impact on an individual’s health.
The sales profession became a deceiving, unethical profession because of people’s negative experiences with snake oil salespeople. However, during the early 1900s, a salesman named Thomas J. Watson Sr. strived to eliminate this stigma with his new company, International Business Machines.
When it came to sales, Watson had the following insights:
- As business competition increases, so does sales competition
- The more trained and educated a salesperson is, the more sustainable a business’s sales efforts are
Throughout Watson’s career, he prioritized eliminating the stigma of the sales profession by implementing sales training programs, motivating salespeople through contests and commission structures, and recruiting the best salespeople straight out of college.
Thanks to Watson’s efforts paired with national regulations, the sales profession started to become a well-earning, respectable career.
In 1925, university professor and psychologist Edward K. Strong published The Psychology of Selling and Advertising. This book highlighted lasting sales principles such as sales features and benefits, handling objections, and types of questions to ask prospects. Strong wanted to emphasize that even though sales is a demanding industry, it can be taught, learned, and studied.
After The Psychology of Selling and Advertising was published, corporate empires, entrepreneurs, and authors developed a deeper interest in the selling profession. Entrepreneur and author Dale Carnegie helped the sales profession evolve by coming up with the concept AIDCA, which stands for Attention, Interest, Desire, Conviction, and Action. The goal of AIDCA is to help salespeople move prospects through every stage of the buying cycle.
Strong and Carnegie helped sales professionals progress and produce tactical selling strategies, including:
- Making sales a repeatable, ongoing process
- Showing that people can learn and master sales skills through consistent practice and education
- Using research to solidify and articulate complex sales concepts
Solution and consultative selling is the premise that customers are motivated to buy a product or service if there’s a need. More often than not, prospects don’t understand that they have a need, which is why asking open-ended questions is necessary for B2B selling. Solution selling focuses on determining the wants and needs of a prospect and providing a solution to their problems.
In 2011, former Salesforce employee Aaron Ross believed that further role specialization was needed for the sales industry. Ross saw inefficiencies in the account executive role because they spent more time prospecting leads than closing business deals. After further investigation into the sales process, Ross came up with an idea to create a more specialized sales position—the sales development representative role.
Ross identified three main components to a sales process: lead generation, closing, and account management. Each part has one specialized professional focusing on that aspect of the sales strategy. Ross explained to the sales industry that business growth comes from qualified leads, which are determined in the lead generation portion of the sales process. Lead generation enables businesses to generate predictable growth and produces more revenue.
Software as a service (SaaS) prospecting automation has enabled companies to expand their footprint. There are an unlimited number of tools and technologies in the market today that business development and sales reps can use to advance their growth efforts.
SaaS sales stack enables reps to streamline workflow processes and reach prospects closer to the end of their buying cycle. Adaptable CRM platforms like Salesforce allow sales teams to optimize their cold calling, email automation, and contact management efforts. With the right tools and technologies, business development and sales reps have the opportunity to spend less time doing tedious tasks and spend more time pitching prospects.
While the terms “sales and business development” are often used interchangeably, BDR and SDR positions have significant differences. Business development teams are responsible for discovering new business opportunities or enhancing relationships with current customers. Overall, business development aims to generate more revenue through strategic partnerships, digital marketing efforts, and other business development activities that support growth.
When it comes to sales development, the goal is to identify and engage with prospects in the target market to pitch a company’s product or service. Sales development reps prospect and bring qualified leads into the sales pipeline. Through the sales pipeline, sales development teams work to convert leads into long-term customers.
Confusing sales and business development, or BDR and SDR roles, can be troublesome because intertwining job descriptions could result in unfocused market penetration, unpredictable sales cycles, inaccurate revenue forecasts, and fluctuating processes. Identifying a clear distinction between BDR and SDR roles allows businesses to understand which processes may be inefficient and need to be adjusted.
A main goal for BDRs is to identify business opportunities and generate leads. This position is more creative than the SDR role because they spend their day brainstorming new ideas for lead development. Business development reps discover leads through various channels, including search engines, social media, networking, cold phone calls or emails, and more. They help set the sales reps up for success because they build relationships with potential clients and effectively turn cold leads into warm ones.
BDRs are typically assigned to one of these three roles:
- Itinerant Business Developer (IBD): IBDs find new prospects in an outside market and pique their interest in pursuing business with a company.
- Business Development Manager (BDM): BDMs are responsible for managing and sustaining relationships with existing customers and finding opportunities for upselling.
- Corporate Sales Executive (CSE): CSEs meet with prospective businesses within a company’s target market to build and nurture the relationship.
Many companies also refer to their BDRs as SDRs, account executives, strategic partnership managers, strategic alliance specialists, and solutions consultants to help recruit business professionals who may be intimated by the department title “business development.”
SDRs are responsible for managing existing leads that BDRs discover. Sales development reps nurture leads through a variety of platforms, including emails, newsletters, and social media platforms. Leads may also be generated from colleague or customer referrals.
Depending on the structure of the sales department, BDRs are typically responsible for gathering the leads. Then, SDRs take the leads given to them by BDRs and determine which leads would provide the most significant ROI. From there, they get in contact with qualified leads to help the company close business.
SDRs practice “lead scoring,” which is when they rate each prospect to determine how ready they are to make a purchase. Each company or sales rep may have their own approach to the lead scoring process, but there are some actions that they must follow to score a lead productively. Lead scoring determines how quickly an SDR should act on a lead: the higher the lead score, the more ready they are to make a sale. Therefore, an SDR should be considerate and realistic when scoring a lead.
Sales development reps are responsible for engaging with prospects, nurturing the relationship, and closing sales. SDRs are also referred to as BDRs, sales associates, account executives, sales representatives, and sales consultants to attract the best candidates for the job.
Abstrakt Marketing Group hires the best sales professionals in the industry to generate high-quality leads for businesses. Learn how we developed and perfected the SDR role.
Every company has a different goal when it comes to its business development strategy. It’s important to consider your strategy when deciding whether to internalize or outsource your BDR and SDR efforts.
Internal BDR teams are great if you have the tools, technology, money, and expertise to acquire and continuously train a high-performing BDR team. Many small to medium-sized businesses don’t have the capability to efficiently internalize BDRs, which is why many choose to outsource their efforts.
Internal BDR and SDR teams are ideal if you want a 360-degree view of your reps at all hours of the workday. A downfall of outsourcing BDRs is that you don’t have real-time visibility of reps, so you don’t have the opportunity to coach and adjust the pitches as they’re making them. However, an outsourced BDR team with no visibility is a red flag. Outsourced BDR and SDR teams should schedule a monthly review of the results with you to listen to each BDR’s pitch, make adjustments and suggestions as needed, and discuss opportunities on the horizon.
While internal teams may have their perks, outsourced BDR and SDR teams also have a significant list of advantages that internal teams cannot provide.
- Generate new opportunities: Outsourced BDR teams give you access to new regions and markets. Outsourced BDRs can adjust their pitch to be used in different markets and introduce products or services that are new to the industry. This is a great way to gather market research and learn how they react to the new product or service.
- Fill the sales pipeline with better leads: Outsourcing business development efforts allows BDRs to generate better leads. They work with your internal team to identify your business’s lead qualifiers and apply them to their development process.
- Better conversion rates: Since BDRs are generating better leads, they’re more likely to close business deals with prospects that have a need. This increases the opportunity to convert leads into long-term customers.
- Boost customer satisfaction and retention: Customer satisfaction is commonly overlooked when considering BDR outsourcing. By outsourcing, you free up your internal team’s time to prioritize relationships with current customers. This supports a better long-term experience.
- Access to sales expertise: Outsourcing BDRs means that you instantly gain experts in business development. Lead generation providers hire BDRs that specialize in business development and typically have many years of experience. Outsourced BDRs and SDRs apply their knowledge to your business from day one of the partnership.
- Minimal training time: By outsourcing your BDR and SDR team, you minimize your internal team’s training time. You don’t have to take the time to teach them the process your company follows because the outsourced company has a method they follow. This gives you more time to focus on your day-to-day operations.
- Provides flexibility: Changing an internal BDR program is costly and can take up a lot of time internally. Outsourcing provides flexibility to make changes without affecting your budget or your daily operations.
Like BDRs, many small to medium-sized businesses don’t have the resources and capabilities to hire internal SDRs. However, if you have everything you need to build a sustainable sales pipeline, an internal SDR team may benefit your business.
Internal BDR and SDR teams are ideal if the product or service your business offers is complex and difficult for most people to understand. An internal SDR team ensures that each pitch is accurate and effectively highlights everything your business provides to benefit the prospect.
One of the most significant downfalls of outsourced SDRs is that they are trained to develop and nurture relationships, but they are not qualified to close a sale. However, outsourced SDRs are trained to qualify each B2B lead they call to ensure that it’s a good business opportunity and meets your business’s preferred criteria.
Outsourcing SDRs provides significant benefits for B2B companies, including:
- Balances costs and resources: Companies often hire outsourced SDR teams because they’re looking to grow their business and hiring internally is expensive. When considering an internal BDR and SDR team, a business needs to consider salaries, available tools and technologies, training, compensation, benefits, and more. In addition, sales turnover is typically high, so it’s crucial to consider turnover rates.
- Team flexibility: Outsourced sales teams are flexible, which allows your company to make changes to your product or service quickly as needed to fit your market. Outsourced SDRs can be scaled up or down depending on your company’s changing needs and priorities.
- Decreased time to market: Hiring an outsourced SDR team allows you to get to your target market at a much quicker rate than if you were to do it internally. B2B lead generation companies require less time to train SDRs and more time calling and pitching a target market. In addition, they have the tools to gather a list of qualified prospective businesses quickly.
- Leverages outside experience: Outsourced SDRs typically have years of experience working with various industries. This allows them to use their knowledge and best practices to pitch prospects successfully and schedule high-quality business meetings.
- Data optimization: In today’s sales climate, having easy access to data is essential for a successful B2B sales strategy. Outsourced sales reps are experts in organizing company databases, enriching records, and building prospect lists. This gives your company more opportunity to gather market research data and streamline processes.
- Increased access to technology: Sales tools and technologies can be costly, especially if you have a variety of them. When you partner with a lead generation provider, you have increased access to many sales platforms to optimize your sales strategy. In addition, the outsourced SDRs are also well-trained on the technology provided, so you save the time you would have spent training internal BDRs and SDRs.
- Building a better product or service: Outsourced SDRs give your company the advantage to learn your target market’s wants, needs, and desires. By speaking with prospects, outsourced SDRs learn what’s valuable to them. If it’s not something your business currently offers, this could give you a chance to implement it into your product or service line.
At Abstrakt Marketing Group, we have a hybrid role that accomplishes both BDR and SDR responsibilities. For our clients, we have SDRs who follow the specified roles of BDRs. Our SDRs work to build and sustain a sales pipeline that creates long-term, predictable growth for clients. Our SDRs set business appointments with prospects that meet our clients’ unique, predetermined criteria. For example, some clients only want to work with particular industries. On the other hand, some clients only want to work with buildings with specific square footage to ensure a significant business opportunity.
At Abstrakt, we have internal SDRs who manage both BDR and SDR responsibilities. In their position, they create a sustainable sales pipeline and close business opportunities. They take additional sales measures such as Live Transfers and Zoom Connects to ensure that an opportunity doesn’t fall through the cracks. These sales meeting tactics are beneficial because they directly connect a prospect with a certified sales representative.
Ready to take your business growth to the next level? Contact us today to learn how our SDRs can help you generate new business opportunities!