What is a Business Development Representative (BDR)?

BDRs build your outbound sales pipeline.
Business development representative cover image
BDRs or Business Development Representatives are vital company sales team members. They are the first point of contact with potential customers. BDRs play an essential role in the sales process by prospecting, qualifying, and scheduling appointments for the sales team.

A Business Development Representative (BDR) is a sales representative who generates qualified prospects via cold email, cold calling, social selling, and networking. A BDR is sometimes known as a Sales Development Representative (SDR) and is an initial point of contact for potential clients.

Business Development Representatives can be hired in-house or outsourced to a specialized sales outsourcing company.

This article will explore the role of a BDR in prospecting leads and more. Additionally, we'll look at how hiring a BDR works and whether in-house hiring or outsourcing is the right choice.

What Does Being a BDR Involve?

BDRs use various tools to reach potential customers, including cold emailing, cold calling, social selling, and networking. These activities aim to generate qualified prospects that the sales team can follow up with.

They reach out to potential customers to introduce them to the company's products or services.

Once they establish a connection, they attempt to qualify the lead to determine whether the customer's needs and what the company offers fit. The job of a Business Development Representative is important but can also be challenging.

BDRs have many responsibilities, including:

  • Prospecting for new leads
  • Generating leads through methods such as cold emailing, cold calling, social selling, and networking
  • Qualifying leads to determine whether they are a good fit for the company's products or services
  • Scheduling appointments for the sales team

The job of a BDR is to develop relationships with potential customers and set up meetings for more senior sales team members. As such, they need to be good at communicating and building rapport. BDRs also need to be organized and efficient to keep track of their pipeline and progress through the sales process.

The Role of a BDR in Prospecting Leads

The process of finding potential consumers, locating them, and generating a base of leads to convert them into paying customers is known as prospecting.

Prospecting is a part of lead generation, which is converting people who have never expressed interest in your brand to express such interest.

A prospect, therefore, is someone who perhaps has never interacted with your brand.

A lead, however, is a former prospect who has 1) interacted with your brand and 2) expressed some interest in the solution you have to offer.

Prospecting is often one of the most important aspects of any sales-driven organization. It's also usually one of the most difficult and time-consuming tasks that salespeople face daily.

There are many ways to prospect new leads, but it all starts with identifying your target market and understanding their needs. Once you know what and who you're selling it, you can use various methods to find potential customers and build relationships with them.

A common way to begin the prospecting process is to build a customer profile. A customer profile is what it sounds like a list of characteristics that deem someone a good fit as your customer.

An example of building a customer profile is our work with a Silicon Valley startup in the work productivity space. This startup sells software that allows employees to context-switch between external meetings.

As you can imagine, the first question our BDRs asked themselves with the customer was this: which type of employee has so many external meetings per week that they need a tool to help them quickly context-switch? We found that the answer is workers in customer success and account management.

However, having decades of combined sales experience on the team means we could filter for more important items; they included seniority, industry, company size, and more.

So the final version of the first customer profile our BDRs made looked like below.

  • Position Titles: VP of Customer Success, Head of Account Management
  • Employee Count: 201 - 500 people
  • Industries: Internet, Computer Software
  • Locations: California, New York, Washington, Massachusetts

Building rock-solid customer profiles is the first step to being an excellent BDR.
The next step BDRs must do in the prospecting process is to configure and execute the actual outbound messaging. We will discuss that more in the next section of the article.

Zooming past that, some of the prospects will turn into "leads", meaning that they are prospects who expressed marginal to great interest in the business the BDR is working for.

However, BDRS needs to do lead qualification.

Lead qualification entails examining the characteristics of leads and seeing whether or not it's worth it for your sales team to converse with those leads.

While it's always exciting for anyone to fill out your contact form - or merely express interest in your business - that doesn't necessarily mean they are an ideal customer. It might be the case that a business replies to a BDR's email sequence expressing interest. Still, that business is not a good fit for multiple reasons: the lead might not be in your business's desired deal-size range, they might have a low lifetime value if they did become a customer, etc.

At the same time, there are several reasons why BDRs decide that the lead qualifies, even if those reasons aren't clear interest. A good example is when a lead is not eager about being a customer but wants to learn more about your product. In fact, learning more about your product or service - as opposed to enthusiasm for it - is a common reason prospects turn into leads and book business meetings.

Setting Up Meetings With Potential Customers

Prospecting isn't the only part of a BDR's job. Business Development Representatives need to use their knowledge and tools to set up meetings with potential customers.

Setting up meetings can be difficult, but BDRs are experts at it.

Here are some methods BDRs use to engage with prospects to convert them into leads.

Cold Emailing

BDRs use cold emailing to reach out to potential customers and introduce them to the company's products or services.

They send an email that is relevant to the customer and provides value, so they are more likely to respond and come down to the sales funnel, with the goal of converting them into paying customers.

Cold Calling

Cold calling involves contacting potential customers who may not be familiar with the company or its products.

BDRs need to be prepared for objections and have effective responses ready, to understand the prospect's needs, and see if there could be room for a sale.

Social Selling

Social selling is the process of using social media platforms to identify potential leads and connect with them.

This method allows BDRs to build relationships with potential clients before reaching out to them directly.

BDRs must re-engage with prospects appropriately and convincingly to convert them into leads.

It's common to only reach out to prospects via a few touches, but the problem is that most prospects won't respond until after several touches.

This is due to different reasons, most of which are outside the BDR's control. Prospects might be too busy to respond to your email - let alone book a meeting with you; they might have never seen your email because it was marked as spam or because they have too many emails to check.

It's the job of the Business Development Representative to optimize what's in their control, which are the pitch, the quality of their pitch, and the number of times they reach out to prospects.

It's common for our BDRs to perform something called a resequence campaign. A resequence campaign is exactly what it sounds like a targeted effort to reach out to prospects that haven't converted into a lead.
To effectively resequence campaigns, BDRs need to know where every prospect is in their journey. This is why tracking prospects as much as possible is imperative. The best BDRs keep track of the number of times a prospect has been reached out to, the number of times a prospect has opened an email, and more.

A resequence campaign run may not be successful because the Business Development Representative did not track prospects well; consequently, the prospect is receiving an email or a phone call irrelevant to where they stand.

An example is a BDR emailing a prospect that starts with, "I know you've read my emails before, but hear me out on why you need X." That statement is irrelevant if the prospect hasn't opened one of that BDR's previous emails to them.

This example could've been avoided if the BDR had kept track of that prospect's email open rates.

As a recap, BDRs must be organized to book meetings with potential customers. It's difficult to email, cold call, and social selling campaigns when the BDR doesn't track where the prospect sits in their journey.

By keeping track of their pipeline, BDRs can ensure that they work on the most promising leads and progress toward their sales goals.

How Do BDRs Contribute to Sales In The
Short & Long Term?

Business Development Representatives can make a drastic difference in a company's sales. They can affect the company's short- and long-term sales in different ways.

In the short term, they help the sales team increase the number of potential customers in the pipeline. In the long term, your business can close more deals and make more revenue because of their contribution to the pipeline.

Also, they qualify leads, so only ideal customers move further in the buying cycle. Ideal customers for most businesses means customers who truly need your product and service and would have a larger lifetime value than others.

Therefore, the Business Development Representative's contribution is indispensable for any company.

Outsourcing BDR Services

There are many benefits to outsourcing BDR services. It is usually more cost-effective than hiring in-house staff. This is because you only need to pay for the service when needed, and there are no additional costs such as employee benefits or training.

When you outsource BDR services, you can access a team of experienced professionals who can provide support when needed.

Outsourced BDRs can give you results as soon as the first week.


Business Development Representatives play a crucial role on the sales team. They generate leads so that you can close more deals.

There are several benefits to outsourcing BDR services, including cost-effectiveness and access to a team of experienced professionals.

When considering whether to outsource or hire an in-house BDR, weighing each option's pros and cons is important. In general, outsourcing is more efficient than hiring an in-house representative.

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