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BDR vs SDR: What to Expect from Each Role

BDR vs SDR: What to Expect from Each Role

6 minute read | February 18, 2022
Sakshi Gupta

Written by:
Sakshi Gupta

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There are many different roles on a sales team, with each type of sales rep responsible for a different part of the sales process, from prospecting potential customers to qualifying and bringing in “warm leads,” pitching, negotiating, deal closing, and customer success management. Business development representatives and sales development representatives work at the beginning of the sales pipeline, with both types of sales reps identifying new business opportunities and getting prospective clients into the sales funnel. But there are fundamental differences between their roles, too. 

Is There a Difference Between BDR vs SDR?

While some organizations have sales reps who do the work of both BDR and SDR, and others use the job titles interchangeably, the two types of sales roles focus on different components of the sales funnel.

Business development representatives focus on prospecting outbound leads. They do cold outreach, find new growth opportunities for an organization, and form strategic partnerships to open new markets. 

Sales development representatives focus on qualifying inbound marketing leads, or “warm leads”. They research, develop, and move prospective clients along the sales pipeline towards closing. 

BDR vs SDR: Understanding Each Role

While the responsibilities of business development reps and sales development reps might seem very similar—both sales roles are responsible for getting prospective customers into the sales funnel, and neither is responsible for closing deals—many larger companies keep the roles distinctly separate because of role specialization.

Business Development Representative (BDR)

Business development representatives are part of a sales team and focus on identifying potential customers and new business opportunities. Although it is often an entry-level position at many organizations, it remains an important role that contributes to business growth and helps an organization meet its business goals. 

What Does a BDR Do?

Business development reps work on outbound leads. Outbound prospecting consists of finding potential customers from search engine research, social media, networking events, cold calling, and more. It’s the job of a business development rep to perform initial outreach, establish a rapport with prospective clients, and turn cold leads into warm ones that can then be moved along the sales pipeline. 

What Are the Requirements to Be a BDR?

There are no formal requirements to become a business development rep, and having a college degree is not necessary for a career in software sales. Instead, hiring managers typically look for candidates with strong interpersonal skills, a history of collaboration, and the ability to adapt to an organization’s sales processes. 

How Much Can a BDR Make?

How much a business development representative makes depends on their years of experience, the type of organization they join, and the market in which they work. The base salary of a BDR in the United States is around $59,176, according to Indeed, with commissions adding an extra $12,000 a year. In larger markets like New York City, BDRs can make a base salary of around $62,818, according to Built In New York, with commissions bumping the overall compensation to around $85,000.

What’s a Typical Day in the Life of a BDR?

For most BDRs, a typical day revolves around prospecting, according to Patrick Dang, an international sales trainer who started his career at Oracle in Silicon Valley. 

“That means finding other people who will be a great fit to work with you and finding out ways to reach out to them and generate appointments [and] meetings so that you can have a conversation to see whether or not it makes sense to work together,” Dang said. “You can’t work with anybody if nobody knows who you are. So, in the beginning, all day, every day, basically you wake up, you go to work, and your job is to find these companies, build the list of people you want to work with, reach out to them with email, LinkedIn, or cold calling, whatever works best in your industry. Get them on the phone, book an appointment, learn about their business, and see if it makes sense to work together.” 

Who Should Consider a BDR Career?

A BDR career is best suited to creative problem solvers who have strong communication skills, enjoy meeting new people, and are effective researchers. According to Patrick Dang, there’s much more to business development than simply persuading a potential client to meet with you—much of the BDR skill set lies in identifying the ideal client profile.

“A lot of [the time]…your manager or the leadership at the company… may not always have a clear idea of who you should be reaching out to,” Dang said. “So you have to come up with some creative ideas to see who you actually want to reach out to. Casino companies? E-commerce? People in real estate? Cryptocurrencies? You have to figure out the use cases for your services and see how they can fit into these industries.”

Related: What is Tech Sales?

Sales Development Representative (SDR)

bdr vs sdr: Sales Development Representative (BDR)

Where business development representatives work on outbound leads, sales development representatives work on inbound leads, which are prospective clients who have already shown some level of interest in the product or service being sold. 

What Does an SDR Do?

SDRs perform research to identify qualified prospects, seek out customer referrals, take calls with inbound marketing leads, check in with current customers, and find opportunities for re-activating old customers. Similar to BDRs, they are often the first point of contact with potential clients, establish a rapport, and pass warm leads down the sales pipeline.   

What Are the Requirements to Be an SDR?

Like BDRs, SDRs do not require a bachelor’s degree. Instead, hiring managers prioritize soft skills such as communication, personability, organization, and the ability to collaborate with others. 

How Much Can a SDR Make?

How Much Can a SDR Make?

How much a sales development representative makes depends on their years of experience, the type of organization they join, and the market in which they work. The average base salary of a sales development representative in the United States is around $53,922, according to Built In, with commissions bringing the total compensation to around $76,400. 

What’s a Typical Day in the Life of an SDR?

Unlike BDRs, who spend their days reaching out to potential prospects, SDRs are usually responding to inbound interest from potential customers, which means a lot of time answering questions and qualifying leads over the phone.

“The prospect will book a time and [the SDR] will pick up the phone and …have a conversation about getting this prospect to turn into a paying customer,” according to Dang. “This is very lucrative and not too difficult because if you have the sales skills to close these deals then all you’re really doing is taking calls all day and trying to close. So, you don’t have to reach out to anybody or do cold emails or cold calling.”

Who Should Consider an SDR Career?

As with any sales career, the role of an SDR is best suited to those who are strong communicators, storytellers, and researchers. Those who are self-motivated, goal-oriented, creative, and have a growth mindset also tend to do well as SDRs and BDRs.

Related: Technical Sales Representative Job Description

How To Become a Sales Representative in 3 Steps

bdr vs sdr: How To Become a Sales Representative in 3 Steps
  • Step 1: Take a course. A comprehensive class—whether it’s a degree in business or an online bootcamp—that teaches the latest sales industry tools, hosts live workshops, and offers personalized coaching from experienced sales professionals can give you an edge when applying to BDR and SDR roles. In addition to ensuring that you have a firm grasp of the technical skills expected of every sales rep, courses like Springboard’s Tech Sales Career Track offer opportunities to develop and practice the soft skills needed to succeed, and professional guidance at every stage of the job search.
  • Step 2: Practice prospecting. Both BDRs and SDRs are skilled researchers who, in addition to being able to identify potential business partners, can also track down the right department, team, manager, or executive within a company to reach out to. Whether you work in sales for a software company or you come up with a hypothetical case study of your own, practice using all the tools at your disposal—from social media platforms such as LinkedIn and search engines—to find prospective leads 
  • Step 3: Learn from others. There is no shortage of resources when it comes to learning from sales professionals. If you work at an organization that has a sales team, consider carving out time to chat with sales reps and managers to learn more about their roles, responsibilities, and any advice they have to offer. If you don’t have access to sales reps, there are many videos and YouTube channels dedicated to shedding light on what BDRs and SDRs do and the latest best practices.

Since you’re here…
Curious about a career in tech sales? Learn more with our tech sales career guide, or dive right in with our Tech Sales Bootcamp. We’ll help you switch careers in a matter of months, or your tuition money back. See our student success stories for inspiration – people are changing careers with us every day!

About Sakshi Gupta

Sakshi is a Managing Editor at Springboard. She is a technology enthusiast who loves to read and write about emerging tech. She is a content marketer with experience in the Indian and US markets.