Do you have a salespeople that consider themselves a Business Development Representative, a Sales Development Representative, or an Account Executive?

Or do you just have “sales reps”?

If the latter, they are probably frustrated and not performing nearly as well as they could.

The sales profession (especially in technology and software) has become a lot more difficult to achieve flying solo—as many sales reps are forced to do in many organizations.

Buyers have all of the information they could ever want on their phone, and are increasingly frigid towards anyone who contacts them “out of the blue”.

It becomes difficult to make quota when reps are charged with finding leads, qualifying prospects, and pitching them. It’s this reason that many businesses are rethinking the sales department. Sales managers are breaking the sales process down into a few roles to help improve the health of the pipeline.

One of those roles is the business development representative (BDR).

Some use BDR interchangeably with sales development representative (SDR), and while they are similar, SDRs are almost strictly inbound lead based.

BDRs are the tip of the spear and find new business and tap new markets in order to find qualified leads and set appointments for sales. This difficult task often means BDRs are compensated more than inbound or SDRs, due to the nature of the work.

In this post, we hope to give you a few things:

  • A detailed definition of a BDR
  • A comprehensive view of the role
  • A good idea of characteristics quality BDRs share

What is a Business Development Representative (BDR)?

Business Development Representative (BDR): This sales role focuses on generating qualified prospects using cold email, cold calling, social selling, and networking.

A skilled laborer begins a project with nothing but tools and a plan. Over time, things begin to take shape until the job is done.

Likewise, a Business Development Representative drums up business for organizations with nothing but their skills, tools, and by having a plan of attack.

In addition to being skilled in the art of finding business from (virtually) nothing, the BDRs you hire have to be tough as nails.

Inbound leads aren’t always easy, but they at least came to the funnel through some means of their own initiation.

Outbound, cold-outreach leads are called “cold” for a good reason. The average connection rate isn’t great, even when it’s better than average.

Not only that, but a Business Development Representative is not a closer.

Like an SDR, a BDR is compensated based on SQAs (sales qualified appointments), but generally need a smaller number of SQAs since these are much more difficult to generate compared to inbound.

This is a big step that starts with a fresh cold prospect and ends when your rep qualifies them for sales, but it’s a closer that will end up getting the yes.

A Business Development Representative is a vital figure for the new age of sales, but it can be thankless if you’re not careful to remember them.

Always remember that your BDRs (and SDRs, really) get put off, told no, and then have to send the good prospects to someone else for the climax.

What Does a BDR Do (Exactly)?

Now that we have an idea of the end goal of a BDR, it’s time to dig deeper and see what it is they would do to accomplish their tasks.

Finding new business, contacting potential decision makers and influencers, and finding those that are a fit for your products is no small task. However, it is a crucial one.

It allows organizations to tap into new markets, finding new pains for new businesses, and helps the overall marketing and sales team understand how to better attract more inbound leads.

To do such a monumental task, it takes three broad areas that we’ll dig into.

BDR: Business Development Representative

I know this seems really basic, but there are a lot of moving parts, all of which your BDRs need skills to accomplish correctly.

Researching New Business

It may seem like a BDR wouldn’t have much to do with marketing, or even other sales reps, but that would be a mistake.

Collaboration will help find new prospects that meet certain character traits of current clients. Using things like the company’s current buyer personas, BDRs can locate similar businesses and industries that fit the bill of ideal clients closely enough to make for some great sales appointments.

Other than using data from what is currently working, these reps are out trying to drum up business through cold outreach. This process can be a lot like a writer staring at a blank page—intimidating.

Using personas (if possible) they find those brands that fit into the firmographic data that seems to point towards your ideal customers.

Example: Plastic injection molders between $3 million to $25 million in annual revenue with more than 20 employees.

After a quick cross reference to ensure that none of these brands are current customers, it’s time to drill down the firmographic/demographic/psychological hole even further.

  • What role is typically in charge of choosing a solution like yours?
  • What are their primary concerns (including things that don’t necessarily deal with your product)?
  • Who influences them in terms of buying decisions?
  • Who are their supervisors/direct reports?
  • What industry publications and trends are they most interested in viewing?

These questions (and others like them) will begin to shape the people BDRs are looking to find.

The next step is finding those who potentially fit the profile that they’ve formed.

Putting potential names to the brands is the last step before reps begin to reach out. It’s likely that you’ll have 2-4 names that could be “the one” you really need.

The others are important, too.

Cold Communication

When a Business Development Representative begins to reach out to that list (created from virtually nothing), there are two primary goals they want to accomplish:

  1. Find the decision maker
  2. Have a qualifying call

Note: This is not a process of sending them a sequence of pre-programmed emails that gently woo them into making an appointment. Often times, this is an intense 10-21 day process of semi-aggressive outreach that will end with an appointment or not.

It can be accomplished effectively through intraday emailing and calling.

What’s That?

Pick the top three potential candidates and send them an email. Briefly introduce yourself and ask them who’s responsible for buying decisions for [insert product here].

Don’t send more than that, you’ll hit the spam category. But a genuine question to a few heads will usually get you a much better response rate.

Then, call all three of those names—same day (not necessarily the same day as the email).

Not only that it will give your BDRs a fast answer (more often than individual outreach). It will also give a few names to drop during your outreach to the decision maker (e.g. I was speaking with Jane earlier).

It’s not a silver bullet, but it may seem like that at times.

The other times, you’ll have to constantly reach out through emails, voicemail, and calls.

A sequence is usually around a couple of weeks. It is usually a variety of communication that either ends with a call to qualify, the lead letting your rep know communications aren’t welcome, or a “break-up” notice where your rep just can’t get through.

All part of the job. All to get the decision maker on the phone for a call.

Qualifying Call

The purpose of the call is to designate whether or not this brand is a prospect worth sending on to a sales qualified appointment (SQA). That should take anywhere from 15 minutes to 45 minutes.

The longer the call, the more qualified it is.

Most of the questions that sales blogs offer are great, but they are usually geared towards inbound leads. For instance, most of those posts include the question, “What prompted you to start looking for a solution?”

If your BDR reps ask this to a lead that they reached out to in the first place, it won’t end well.

It’s the cold outreach qualifying call that really shows the difference between this sales role compared to the others.

It requires a skill level that takes a long time to master.

Taking someone from unaware to warm and qualified within a couple of interactions is a difficult task. Not everyone is cut out for this, but this is where a BDR excels.

Here are a couple of cold outreach guides to help you qualify a newer lead.


A BDR may not send as many appointments to the closers. However, what they do is invaluable to the continued success of a business.

They are the first in to new sectors. This allows them to open up new ground that the marketing and sales team can use to grow revenue.

Their demeanor needs to be solid, resolve at top levels, and their rapport skills should be immeasurable.

Do you have anyone like that on your team?