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SDR vs BDR – What’s the difference?

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If you’re researching sales careers or need to make a hire, you may come across the acronyms SDR and BDR. SDR stands for Sales Development Representative, while BDR stands for Business Development Rep. Both job titles are similar in nature, but what about their roles and responsibilities?

What’s the difference between SDR vs BDR? Understanding the subtle differences between these two roles can be challenging and often the titles are used interchangeably. 

This guide will clarify these two roles and their differences, including skills, responsibilities, pay, career paths and more.

What is a SDR (Sales Development Representative)?

It’s important to understand the role of an SDR vs BDR.

SDRs are inside sales representatives who focus exclusively on sales prospecting. They’re not involved in closing deals. Rather, they connect with leads, qualify them, and then move them to the next step in the sales process.

SDRs are well-informed on prospects before reaching out to ensure successful contact. They connect with prospects via phone, social media or email, and their goal is to get them to a point where they are ready to talk to an Account Executive

SDR Role and Responsibilities

SDRs have several responsibilities, but they all relate to prospecting.

An SDR engages in two types of sales prospecting:

  • Inbound: They nurture leads who have already engaged with or showed interest in the brand or reach out to book a meeting.
  • Outbound: They engage in cold prospecting – i.e., reach out to potential customers who have never engaged with the brand.

Read to learn more about inbound vs outbound sales.

Their responsibilities include:

  • Finding New Prospects: SDRs research and identify new potential customers. To succeed, they must have excellent knowledge of the industry, competition and sales process.
  • Make Calls and Send Emails: SDRs make phone calls or send emails to either reach out to prospects or follow up with those who have inquired about the brand’s offerings.
  • Arrange and Engage in Meetings: An SDR schedules meetings with prospects and comes to these meetings prepared with a list of questions. They may use a script to qualify or disqualify leads. They may also arrange meetings with sales executives.

SDRs must be excellent listeners and quick on their feet to excel in their roles. They often serve as the first point of contact between a brand and its potential customers.

What is a BDR (Business Development Representative)?

You can’t compare SDR vs BDR without understanding the role of a business development representative.

A BDR is similar to an SDR in that they generate leads for a company. BDRs generate new opportunities by:

  • Prospecting existing business accounts and engaging with potential buyers
  • Qualifying leads

BDRs are focused primarily on outbound leads rather than inbound leads, which is an SDR’s job.

BDRs do not close deals. Their goal is to move a prospect through the sales funnel to closers, usually an Account Executive.

SDR vs BDR – Work responsibilities

While similar in nature, SDRs and BDRs have different responsibilities.

Here’s a closer look at the work responsibilities for SDR vs BDR.

SDR Responsibilities

  • Focused on inbound leads
  • Qualifies leads 
  • Engages in cold prospecting via email and calls
  • Identifies a prospect’s needs and recommends appropriate products or services
  • Arranges meetings or calls with sales executives 

SDRs typically report to a sales development manager.

BDR Responsibilities

  • Focused on outbound leads
  • Sends cold emails 
  • Makes cold calls or high-level discovery calls
  • Arranges meetings or calls with an account executive

BDRs typically report to a sales development manager.

SDR vs BDR – Skills

When comparing SDR vs BDR, you’ll find that both roles require similar skills and requirements.

SDR vs BDR Requirements

  • Bachelor’s degree in marketing, sales, business or a related field, although a college degree isn’t mandatory
  • Experience in sales
  • Track record of meeting or exceeding sales quotas

SDR vs BDR Skills

  • Excellent communication skills: SDRs and BDRs are both expected to reach out to prospects and nurture leads. Therefore, they must be excellent communicators and comfortable with cold prospecting. Additionally, they must communicate with their managers in a professional manner.
  • Prospecting skills: Both SDRs and BDRs must have prospecting skills. They must know which signals to watch for and which questions to ask prospects.
  • Excellent listeners: To succeed in either role, you must have excellent listening skills. It’s important to understand the prospect’s needs and to hear their concerns. BDRs and SDRs listen without interrupting and answer questions to ensure that prospects are well-informed.
  • Time management skills: SDRs and BDRs must know how to manage and use their time efficiently. Their performances are often measured by how many prospects they generate or how many prospects move through the sales funnel to closing. These individuals often use tools to automate processes and save time, such as CRM software.
  • Product Knowledge: SDRs and BDRs must have advanced knowledge about the product or service they are selling. They should understand the benefits, features and drawbacks to ensure prospects are well-informed and have their questions answered.

SDR vs BDR – The Pay

If you’re considering a career as an SDR or BDR, then it’s important to understand the salaries attached to each role.

Let’s compare the pay for SDR vs BDR.

SDR Compensation

An SDR can earn anywhere from $30,000 to $85,000 or more. The amount earned will depend on several factors, such as:

  • The size of the company 
  • The products or services it offers
  • Experience level
  • Location

SDRs typically earn commissions based on activities and meeting quotas. They don’t usually earn a percentage of the deals they helped close. 

Generally, an SDR earns a base salary and has variable earnings. For those who meet their sales quota, the national average is 64% base salary and 36% variable earnings.

BDR Compensation

A BDR can earn anywhere from $30,000 to $93,000 or more. Like SDRs, their salaries will depend on many factors, including their ability to meet their quotas.

A BDR’s compensation includes base salary and variable earnings (commissions) or bonuses. Variable earnings will depend on their ability to meet their quotas or performance requirements.

Often, commission is based on how many meetings are booked. In some cases, BDRs will receive commission for closed deals.

Confusion around BDR vs SDR 

The SDR and BDR roles are often confusing in the sales world, even for seasoned veterans. Some businesses, especially small businesses, don’t differentiate between SDR vs BDR or BDR vs SDR. 

While there are differences between these two roles, the titles are often used interchangeably.

Larger companies tend to have separate and dedicated roles for SDRs and BDRs because they have greater prospecting needs and a larger target market or multiple target markets.

BDR vs SDR Career Path 

When considering SDR vs BDR as a career, it’s important to know where the two also overlap. In most cases, an SDR can transition to a BDR. Inbound leads are often seen as easier to qualify than outbound leads, so many professionals find going to BDR more challenging.

BDR Career Path

BDR professionals gain invaluable skills in their position, which will make them a vital cog in their organization. The career path options that will open up to you include:

  • AEs, or account executives, are all about closing sales. These professionals are considered quota-carrying, and they will oversee customer accounts. In this position, you’ll prospect new business, meet the growing needs of clients, be responsible for demos and bring in new revenue to the business.
  • BDR manager positions are straightforward and will put you in charge of a BDR team. You’ll also be in charge of growing the sales pipeline and executing strategies to maximize growth.
  • Customer success manager, which focuses on working with existing customers to ensure they are satisfied with the product or service. These professionals are charged with improving customer retention and renewals.
  • Marketing. Sales and marketing work alongside each other to generate leads and convert them into customers. Many SDRs move on to roles in the company’s marketing department, where they may focus on a specific marketing channel or specialization.
  • Strategic accounts, which involves working with the company’s most valued customers. These individuals nurture and maintain relationships with these customers and solve their problems.
  • Channel sales, which is a role that aims to generate revenue by partnering with advisors and third-party resellers.
  • Other Job Titles: Sales Operations, Customer Success, Marketing Roles

BDRs have a lot of career path options, and they can also go into a position as an SDR if they want a change of pace. You’ll find that there are a lot of similarities between the career path of a BDR and SDR.

SDR Career Path

Entry-level SDRs have a lot of career opportunities that they can follow, such as becoming:

  • AEs – same as above
  • SDR managers, which take on a team leader role and will be responsible for recruiting, onboarding and training all new SDRs in the business. You’ll also help coach and assist SDRs and may be responsible for pitch strategies, too.
  • Customer success Help current customers
  • Community manager, which acts as a liaison between the brand and its online community. They focus on brand building and developing a consistent voice for the brand.
  • Marketing – same as above
  • Sales training, which involves training sales reps in skills that will help close more deals. They may work one-on-one or with peer groups.
  • Sales operations professionals are responsible for finding and implementing new best practices, technologies and improvements to help maintain sales growth.
  • Other Job Titles: Sales Operations, Customer Success, Marketing Roles

Most SDRs try to transition to a new position in 16 months, but you may want to be careful of promotions to an account executive. Nearly 1 – 3 will fail in this position, and if you apply with less than a year of tenure in the business, the rate of failure soars to over 50%.

SDRs often learn how to generate sales and then want to focus on closing, and that is exactly what a position as an AE will offer.

Note: One thing to note in this discussion of SDR vs BDR is that both can become AEs. However, transitioning into an AE position is dependent on the organization. Like many entry level sales role, their is always a chance to advance down the line and become a VP of Sales.

SDR vs BDR Salary Data

One of the main differences between an SDR vs BDR is salary. Entering either career may be an option for you, but maximizing your earnings demands that you know the average salary ranges:

SDR Salary Information

A career as an SDR will earn you a great living. However, what salary can you expect?

  • ZipRecruiter reports: $11,000 – $93,500 with an average of $69,500.
  • PayScale reports: $36,000 – $61,000 with an average of $46,000.

However, your salary will depend on experience and location. Larger cities tend to pay more due to higher competition and the cost of living.

It’s important to note that it’s normal in this position to see employees earn money in different ways, including:

  1. Bonuses typically pay $3,000 – $25,000
  2. Commission of $5,000 – $26,000

You may also work with a company that offers profit sharing, which can range from a few hundred dollars per year to tens of thousands.

BDR Salary Information

Entering a career as a business development rep also pays well, but does it pay as well as an SDR? The salary of a BDR is:

  • Zippia reports: $26,000 – $82,000 with an average of $47,200.
  • Indeed reports: $28,000 – $83,600 with an average of $48,500.

Salaries in BDR are very similar across all data points, with most professionals earning in the $47,000 – $49,000 per year range. Annual commissions add an additional $10,000 to many professionals’ yearly earnings, but there is no guarantee that you’ll receive this much in your position.

Interestingly, the salary information from Glassdoor ranges from $47,000 – $112,000, but they list:

  1. $53,000 base pay
  2. $19,400 additional pay

Pay is highly dependent on the industry you’re in and the city where you’ll work.

In terms of BDR vs SDR in salary, SDR has higher earnings opportunities based on the data above. However, this can change from one employer to another, especially when additional compensation is added to the total.

BDR vs SDR Overview

SDR vs BDR is an option that you’ll have to make when entering the industry. Both positions have a very similar career trajectory and will allow you to enter an AE position and others. In terms of salary, the two are very close, too.

The deciding factor on which career to pursue is if you like qualifying inbound leads (SDR) or handling outbound prospecting (BDR).

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