IN THIS ARTICLE
- What Is a Business Development Representative?
- What Does a Business Development Representative Do?
- BDR vs SDR: What Is the Difference?
- Business Development Representative Salary
- Business Development Representative Job Description
- Business Development Representative Job Description Template
- Sales Development Representative FAQs
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“The hardest part of closing any deal is finding it,” says Lars Nilsson, Vice President of Global Sales Development at Snowflake, and former sales executive at Hewlett Packard and Cloudera.
Deals usually begin by introducing your brand to your target market and identifying prospective customers. This initial stage, called lead generation, is followed by a nurturing phase designed to facilitate customer conversion.
Traditionally, a single salesperson would manage all stages of the sales funnel. But a division of responsibilities has emerged to keep up with today’s evolving sales landscape. As audiences embrace brand research through digital touchpoints and personal networks, lead generation has grown increasingly resource-intensive. As a result, this task has become the sole focus of a specialized, top-of-funnel professional—the business development representative.
What Is a Business Development Representative?
Business development representatives (BDRs) expand an organization’s reach by generating new business opportunities. Through a combination of market research, networking, and outreach, they strategically identify and contact qualified leads. Business development representatives book meetings between qualified leads and sales representatives, moving leads into the sales pipeline.
Business development representatives focus on top-of-funnel activity, using outbound tactics to generate leads. They harness industry expertise and subject matter knowledge to diagnose a prospect’s pain points and convey the value of their solutions. BDRs strategically contact decision-makers within target accounts and tailor their outreach strategy to the title, department, and seniority of their desired point-of-contact.
For business development representatives, their metric of success revolves around annual quotas concerning the number of discovery meetings booked, the volume of leads qualified, or percentages of revenue connected to lead generation activities.
Related Read: What is Tech Sales?
What Does a Business Development Representative Do?
Business development reps identify prospects who align with buyer personas assembled by the marketing team. Like user personas, buyer personas are research-driven, semi-fictional profiles that summarize the goals, needs, background, and attitudes of a target audience. Once a business development representative pinpoints a high-value prospective account, they locate a relevant decision-maker attached to the target account and then qualify that lead. Leads are typically qualified via phone, email, networking events, or social media channels. Business development representatives use the lead qualification to evaluate a prospect’s needs and determine whether their product solutions would advance that prospect’s business objectives. This process requires business development reps to initiate open-ended dialogues with leads in order to better understand their goals, challenges, concerns, and constraints. BDRs may also use lead qualification frameworks like BANT (budget, authority, need, and timing) to assess a lead. Qualified leads with genuine potential are passed to sales reps for nurturing and conversion.
Biz dev reps also use market research to stay abreast of competitor activities, industry trends, and emerging sales opportunities. Business development representatives monitor their competitor’s strategies and products, target market behaviors, and shifting industry currents to identify new prospects. They also adapt lead generation tactics to accommodate market changes.
Related Read: Technical Sales Representative Job Description
BDR vs SDR: What Is the Difference?
Although the responsibilities of a business development representative are distinct from those of a sales development representative, the two roles are sometimes confused. Certain companies use these job titles interchangeably or group these positions within a single sales team. While BDRs and SDRs are both responsible for driving sales, their functions within the sales funnel are unique.
Sales development reps create business opportunities by qualifying inbound leads, while business development reps expand a company’s reach using outbound outreach tactics. Biz dev reps warm up leads for sales development reps, who typically have less experience and need to hone their lead qualification techniques. BDRs are responsible for generating leads, while SDRs are responsible for nurturing warm leads and facilitating the sales conversation.
Business Development Representative Salary
While Glassdoor reports an average base pay of $50,000 for business development representatives, Indeed reports an average base salary of $63,243, averaging an additional commission of $12,500. Commission payments complement base salary and are often a percentage of the total revenue generated by a biz dev rep. Sales-related positions often carry a 60:40 salary-to-commission ratio in which 60% of total compensation is fixed and 40% varies by closed deals.
The compensation varies by organization, industry, and geographic location. Here’s how much business development representatives can expect to earn:
Indeed reports an average salary of $53,020 for reps in an entry-level position. Payscale reports that newcomers with less than one year of experience earn a total average compensation of $44,328, while early-career reps with one to four years of experience earn $47,328 on average.
Glassdoor reports an average base salary of $56,341 for mid-level BDRs—50% of whom have two to four years of experience. Payscale’s statistics clock in slightly lower, reporting that a BDR with five to nine years of experience earns a total compensation of $52,211 on average.
Glassdoor reports an average base pay of $65,220 for senior business development reps and $73,641 for senior business development associates, while Payscale reports an average total compensation of $61,315 for experienced biz dev reps.
Business Development Representative Job Description
Wondering what skills and experience you’ll need to launch a career in business development? From market analysis chops to Salesforce savvy, let’s explore the qualifications that employers want in a business development representative.
Requirements To Become a BDR
Business development representatives should have a background in sales, marketing, or a related field. They should also demonstrate proficiency with important sales tools and have a strong command of technical knowledge relevant to their industry. A candidate vying for a business development role will need the following qualifications:
Although the position has no formal degree requirement, a BA in business administration, marketing, or communications is preferred. The technology sector employs a large share of business development reps, and specialized training via tech sales bootcamp programs can be a valuable asset in the industry. Self-learning resources that teach business administration skills can also boost a BDR resume.
Business Development Skills
A combination of hard and soft skills is necessary to succeed in business development. BDRs must analyze and interpret market reports, earning reports, inventory reports, and more. They must also use strong communication and negotiation skills when interfacing with leads and their sales team. Critical thinking skills are essential when building a business development strategy that aligns short-term goals with high-level organizational objectives.
Business development reps should have experience in roles that prioritize building client relationships, which is vital to generating business through networking. Experience in customer-facing roles, marketing, or tech is also valuable, as these jobs also hone communication and relationship-building skills. Entrepreneurship experience also applies to biz dev, and can help BDRs relate to business owners, identify their business challenges, and offer solutions.
Mastery of Key Tools
Business development representatives rely on Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software to paint a comprehensive picture of customer interactions throughout the sales cycle. Biz dev reps use CRM systems like Salesforce and Pipedrive to track client communications, organize sales data, prioritize business opportunities, and nurture strong relationships with customers.
BDRs may also use sales intelligence software to bolster the quality and quantity of their leads. Sales intelligence software like Sales Navigator and ZoomInfo combine CRM data with data generated by companies and can help BDRs pinpoint potential customers based on customized criteria.
Real-World Project Experience
BDR job seekers should demonstrate key hard and soft skills by crafting a strategic business development plan which caters to their target employer. An effective plan should include competitor and market analysis, a target market summary, an overview of the outreach strategy, and a list of key performance metrics to measure success. A strong biz dev plan will showcase a keen ability to define market conditions, recognize obstacles, and navigate challenges.
Business Development Representative Responsibilities
BDRs are responsible for identifying new business opportunities, qualifying leads, building relationships with prospective clients, adapting to market trends, and funneling qualified prospects into the sales pipeline. On a daily basis, a BDR will be responsible for:
Business development reps conduct competitor and market research to determine how to position their solution. Information gleaned from competitor and market research may also inform strategy shifts in lead qualification, target market outreach, and more.
Research is also used to pinpoint new business opportunities. BDRs scour their networks for potential leads that match buyer personas. Once prospective accounts are identified, further research is necessary to initiate outreach. Successful outreach strategies target decision-makers with a relevant message. Business development reps must tailor the content of their messages to the title, department, and seniority of their intended recipient and speak to their unique pain points.
Prior research and thorough lead qualification raise the temperature of cold calls. Biz dev reps strategically allocate these calls to build relationships with qualified leads, with the hopes of later closing a deal. The goal of cold calling is to facilitate brand awareness and create a rapport with prospects, pushing them toward the next step of the sales cycle.
Emailing a prospect beforehand can maximize the likelihood of connecting via phone. Follow-up emails can also help advance the conversation by offering alternate lines of communication and facilitating engagement with the brand.
BDRs qualify leads by evaluating a prospect’s needs and assessing whether their solution could effectively address that. Leads are qualified at three levels:
- Organization level. This baseline level of qualification determines whether the lead merits further research.
- Opportunity level. This secondary level of qualification identifies unique pain points that the BDR’s product or service could resolve. This is also an opportunity to determine if the prospect could realistically implement the product or service.
- Stakeholder level. This tertiary level of qualification evaluates whether your point of contact has the authority, budget, or sense of urgency necessary to purchase the product or service.
Leads are typically qualified via phone calls, cold emailing, social media, and live networking events. Effective qualifying questions are open-ended, allowing business representatives to gather as much information about the prospect as possible. Disqualified leads are filtered into a nurturing sequence to facilitate a future conversion.
Leveraging Social Media
LinkedIn and other social networks offer ample opportunity to research leads and identify potential clients. By reviewing platform analytics, BDRs can also measure a prospect’s engagement with their company and formulate a data-driven outreach strategy. Furthermore, social channels are useful for direct outreach and building long-term relationships.
Additionally, biz dev reps leverage social listening to track public conversations regarding their company, industry, products, competitors, and more. Social listening is the monitoring of social media channels for direct and indirect mentions of your business in order to evaluate how prospects interface with a brand’s social presence. Broader social listening can also help BDRs identify market shifts and changes in public opinion.
Business development reps capitalize on this information to formulate personalized outreach strategies that respond to emerging business trends and unique prospect needs.
Business Development Representative Job Description Template
Companies of all sizes and structures need business development representatives to expand their market reach. The responsibilities and qualifications of a BDR working in a startup space might resemble those outlined in this job posting from Perimeter 81, a cybersecurity startup based in Santa Monica, CA:
(Job posting, Perimeter 81, 2022.)
This BDR must be able to research, engage, and drive prospects into the sales funnel, collaborating with the sales team to grow the company’s business pipeline.
(Job posting, Perimeter 81, 2022.)
This particular role requires technical fluency with Perimeter 81’s cybersecurity solutions. In addition to broader business development skills, this position demands in-depth cybersecurity knowledge and proficiency with cybersecurity tools.
(Job posting, Perimeter 81, 2022.)
This position demands sales or business development experience, as well as a variety of soft skills related to attitude, flexibility, and communication. Sufficient technical knowledge, to contribute to high-level technical meetings, is also important.
A BDR role at a multinational tech corporation may prioritize business development skills over high-level technical expertise, as large organizations have more resources to recruit sales engineers specializing in technical product demonstrations. This job posting from Oracle for a Massachusetts-based BDR demonstrates the slight shift in qualifications for an ideal candidate:
(Job posting, Oracle, 2022).
The skills required for this position focus on traditional business development techniques. Knowledge related to lead qualification, analytics, and forecasting, and business strategy are a top priority.
Like many listings, this post does not discuss compensation. Typically, candidates receive compensation package offers based on their skills and experience, and are expected to negotiate. This is an opportunity to put core business development skills into practice.
Sales Development Representative FAQs
Wondering if a career in business development is right for you? Here are the answers to your top business development questions:
Is Business Development Representative a Good Job?
Strategically-minded extroverts thrive in business development. If you’re a people person with robust interpersonal communication skills, you’ll likely excel as a biz dev rep. The daily responsibilities of a BDR are dynamic and highly social in nature, and those who successfully drive growth are able to increase their total compensation with considerable commission checks.
Business development reps also have access to upward career mobility. Biz dev reps can progress into biz dev manager positions, which opens the door to larger leadership opportunities. With the right experience, a business development manager can progress into a role as the Director of Business Development or a VP of Business Development, who focuses on high-level strategy and planning. Business development representatives are well-equipped to pivot into a career in sales, marketing, or client success.
Is Business Development Hard To Learn?
The biz dev learning curve varies by industry and employer. Service-related and B2B-oriented industries generate the best compensation in sales—so aspiring high-earners should look for business development roles that focus on software, digital media, telecommunications, and tech solutions. Due to the technical knowledge required in these fields, additional training and education, or even certifications, may be required to excel.
Entry-level BDRs often learn on the job, but previous experience in a sales or customer-facing role is typically desired, along with an undergraduate degree in sales (or a sales bootcamp certificate). Above all, adaptive, metrics-driven individuals with strong critical thinking and verbal communication skills will be able to harness business development best practices with ease.
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!