Sales Development Representative vs Business Development Representative: What Is The Difference?

In the first article of the series related to sales development, we’ve explained what SDR stands for and what role it plays for businesses operating in various markets. This time, we want to take a look at another important position in the company called business development representative (BDR). This article will also explain to you the difference between sales and business development representatives. 

What is a Business Development Representative (BDR)?

To fully understand the difference between sales development and business development, let’s first find out who the Business Development Representative (BDR) actually is. Business development reps are the team members that are responsible to expand the company’s clients and customer base. BDR uses various prospecting methods and strategies to generate leads or potential customers and set up the outreach process. 


Broadly speaking, BDR’s role is to find relevant prospects, help the sales team schedule meetings with potential clients, and support the sales pipeline of the company. The business development role is given to a sales team member responsible for outbound lead prospecting. Business development reps bring in new business opportunities for the company across various markets. The responsibilities of BDR also include service development and strengthening existing business relationships.

What is a Sales Development Representative (SDR)?

A sales development representative (SDR) is a sales team member that is responsible for outreaching the prospects, connecting with potential customers, and qualifying leads. Sales development reps don’t focus on closing business, they are mainly responsible for connecting with the prospects and checking if the prospect is a good fit for the business.


The role of SDRs is to move leads through the sales pipeline. They connect with potential clients and understand their business needs and requirements. If a prospect is a good fit for the company, sales development reps schedule the next steps of the sales process with sales representatives of the business.


The SDR and BDR positions may have a lot in common, but the BDR’s sales activities are different from the ones done by the SDR and the role they play in the sales pipeline of the organization.


Here are the main differences between sales and business development representatives:


  • The Sales development reps are focused on inbound lead qualification whereas the business development reps are focused on outbound leads. 
  • Business development reps are responsible to set up the sales pipeline through prospecting whereas SDRs are responsible to move the leads through the sales pipeline.
  • The BDR is responsible to find prospects and generate potential leads, whereas the SDR is responsible to qualify the leads by understanding the prospect’s business and their needs.

Getting the Right Person for Business Development Representative Role

Generally, the biggest mistake the business makes is hiring the least experienced sales representatives for the BDR role. In some cases, the business development representative role is given to someone that is freshly graduated from college.


BDRs play one of the most important roles in the sales process. BDR is responsible to initiate the sales process by finding potential clients and setting up a sales pipeline. The BDR role requires someone with a proven track record of success in sales. Business Development Representatives should understand the organization and the niche for efficient prospecting to stay at the top of their game.

SDR Role vs BDR Role

The BDR’s role is different from the one played by SDR. Sales development reps are focused on inbound lead qualification and are not involved with outbound sales. However, the two positions have a lot in common. For instance, both move leads through the sales pipeline, but none of them is responsible for closing business deals. Here is how the inside sales team looks across various companies.

Sales Team: BRD, SDR, Customer success managers, Account executives, Account managers

What Does a Business Development Representative Do?

BDRs are usually hired by companies that are planning to enter new markets or want to scale, such as startups or fast-growing enterprises. Responsibilities of the business development representative include research, networking, lead generation, outreach, and lead qualification. Let’s have a look at each of them more closely.

Research methods

As for the methods used by these representatives, both use social media, emails, and networking to find potential leads. However, the research process for BDRs can be more complicated. They start from research on Google and use other channels to find new opportunities, as well as work closely with product management departments to develop a strategy for entering new markets before moving to sales. 


This is one of the most effective ways to generate more leads for BDR. Meeting face-to-face with potential business partners is important as it helps to build more trust and a stronger foundation for future relationships. It can include everything from official meetings to casual conversations during exhibitions and seminars. 

Engagement methods 

The business development role tends to be more aggressive than the role in sales development. Cold calling and email marketing are the main tools used by BDRs to get responses from potential customers. Unlike in sales development, their pipelines are usually well-structured and don’t involve automated content. It’s important for every BDR to understand that their first engagement with customers should be thought through in order to succeed. It normally takes more attempts for BDR to reach out to a prospect and get a response rather than for SDR. Besides phones and emails, BDR can also use social media. Even though this channel is primarily used by SDR, business development can also benefit from its opportunities. 


One of our interviewees spoke about tools he has been using as an SDR recently, “Linkedin and email are the two most necessary tools because they directly help you accomplish the goal of connecting with prospects and attaining quota. I use google calendar to stay on task and make time for prospecting, admin, and meetings. LinkedIn is my primary research tool but if I need to find a compelling reason to meet with a prospect, I’ll do a quick google search to see if there is any recent news I can tie into my email pitch.”


Both sales and business development representatives should have access to high-quality content and promotional collateral for different types of customers. Such content should be easily adjusted and customized in accordance with the clients’ specific needs and goals to make your team’s messaging more personalized. 

Lead qualification

In the end, the one and only idea both for the SDR and BDR roles is to identify whether their leads are interested in your company’s products/services and can be converted into sales. As soon as the lead is labeled as sales accepted (SAL), the information on the potential customer is passed to the account executive to identify specific business terms and close the deal.

How to Be a Successful Inside Sales Team

“Make the outreach about the prospect and how your solution will solve their specific problem. Don’t just explain what your solution does and not tie it back to them at all”, says one of our interviewees. 


Modern inside sales teams should work as a single organism and have strictly divided responsibilities. At the same time, every member of the sales team, whether it’s an SDR or BDR, should be the experts шт products/services provided by the company. A good sales or business development rep should be hungry for knowledge and get energy from successful engagements with clients. As a result, your company will be able to attract more leads, convert them into sales, and scale in order to find more business opportunities. 


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