What is a Sales Development Rep (SDR)?

Sales Development Rep (SDR)

What is a Sales Development Rep (SDR)?

Sales Development Rep(SDR) is a B2B software-as-a-service (SaaS) sales role that focuses on prospecting and lead qualification. 

While sales executives (account execs, account manager,etc.) are tasked with delivering sales presentations and product demos that convert sales-qualified leads (SQLs) into customers, SDRs are responsible for generating and qualifying those SQLs through a mix of outbound and inbound prospecting and lead qualification activities.

 

What Does a Sales Development Rep (SDR) Do?

The exact roles and responsibilities of an SDR vary from company to company. SDRs at some SaaS companies spend most of their time on outbound prospecting, while others are much more focused on qualifying inbound leads generated by the company’s marketing team.

Here’s a quick look at the three most important job duties for sales development reps:

 

Outbound Prospecting

Outbound prospecting, also known as “cold prospecting”, involves reaching out to potential customers who have no engagement history with your company, generating leads, and qualifying them for a sales presentation from an account executive. 

SDRs engage in market research to find prospects that match the Ideal Customer Profile (ICP), then work to engage and develop those leads into sales-ready SQLs. SDRs leverage a variety of channels for outbound prospecting, including email, telephone calls, text messaging, social media, and personalized videos.

 

Lead Qualification

SDRs are responsible for making contact with marketing-qualified leads (MQLs) generated by your company’s marketing team, asking questions to assess their readiness for sales, and scheduling them for a product demo or sales presentation with an AE at the right time. 

 

Lead Nurturing

In the ideal case, an SDR makes contact with a lead for the first time, qualifies them as an SQL, and schedules them a product with an AE who will convert them into a customer. 

But sometimes it takes more than one conversation for that lead to be sales-ready. When this is the case, SDRs play a role in nurturing the lead, providing additional education and support, and following up when appropriate to re-attempt scheduling a demo or sales presentation.

 

Why Do SaaS Companies Hire Sales Development Reps (SDRs)?

Before the SaaS revolution, traditional businesses hired sales professionals that would handle every step of the sales process, from prospecting to closing. A salesperson would be assigned in territory, in which they would prospect for potential customers, make initial contacts, qualify leads, book sales appointments, and close the deal.

Then along came a company called Salesforce.

As an early adopter of the Software-as-a-Service model, Salesforce searched for ways to scale rapidly by optimizing their B2B marketing/sales funnel. Along with many other innovations, one of the actions Salesforce took was dividing the sales function into four different roles:

  1. Sales Dev Rep – Responsible for qualifying inbound leads.
  2. Biz Dev Rep – Responsible for outbound prospecting and lead generation.
  3. Account Executive – Responsible for closing deals and serving existing customers.
  4. Account Management/Customer Success – Responsible for growing and maintaining customer relationships.

Partitioning the sales function proved extremely beneficial for Salesforce. By separating the major sales jobs into individual roles, Salesforce was able to align employee incentives with company goals, realize economies of scale in every role, and increase overall sales efficiency, resulting in more deals and faster growth. (Note: You can read more about this in the book Predictable Revenue by Aaron Ross, innovator of the sales team structure that grew Salesforce to over $100 million ARR)

Today, SDRs working in B2B SaaS perform a mix of outbound prospecting and inbound lead qualification to generate sales pipeline for their account executives. This allows SaaS companies to employ account executives who are solely responsible for converting SQLs into customers and driving revenue.

 

5 Core Skills for Sales Development Reps (SDRs)

Product Knowledge

SDRs must possess a wealth of knowledge about your product to carry on meaningful conversations with potential customers and identify the most qualified leads that should move to the next stage in the B2B marketing/sales funnel

 

Research and Social Media

SDRs depend on their research skills to identify new potential B2B customers, determine the best person to contact for an introductory call, and discover their contact information. Platforms like LinkedIn have made it easier for SDRs to find and connect with B2B prospects at scale.

 

Organization

Between prospecting time, qualification calls to inbound leads, and scheduled follow-ups, life as an SDR can get hectic. High-performing SDRs recognize the importance of staying organized and using their time efficiently to get the best results. That means keeping an updated calendar, predictably following up with leads at the right time, and never (ever) missing an opportunity to qualify a customer.

 

Communication

Communication is a core competency for any sales professional. For SDRs, effective communication isn’t just talking – it’s also about listening to prospects, understanding their specific paint points and product use case, collecting their feedback, and knowing when they’re ready to move ahead in the sales process. 

 

Drive to Succeed

As with all sales professionals, SDRs are going to experience a lot of rejection from prospective customers – and that’s okay. With a genuine will to be successful in their roles, SDRs must be prepared to shake off any bad experiences and stay committed to their mission of growing the sales pipeline for your team.

 

High Performing SDRs Drive Marketing and Sales Efficiency

Hiring SDRs increases the overall efficiency of your sales process. By partitioning the sales function into multiple roles, each with its own duties and definition of success, you’re creating specialists within your sales team that make every step in the process work better.

SDRs become lead qualification experts that help ensure your AEs are pitching to the most valuable SQLs, and AEs become closing experts and drive the revenue engine of your business.

At Directive, our SaaS customer generation methodology strives for alignment between marketing, sales, and customer success. Following a customer-led approach, we help our B2B SaaS clients implement the optimal sales model to support their marketing efforts and maximize revenue growth and profitability.

Ready to learn more?

Book an intro call with a member of our team, or Join the Directive Society, an exclusive community featuring exclusive content and free advice from SaaS marketing experts and professionals.

 

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