A sales development representative (SDR) is an internal sales rep who deals with outreach, prospecting, and lead qualification. Their core responsibility is to connect with as many leads as possible and qualify them—determining if the lead is a good customer fit based on pre-established criteria—before passing them over to a higher-level sales rep for closing. An SDR is fundamental to the success of the sales department and the company as a whole.
What does an SDR do?
A sales development representative (SDR) is an entry-level sales representative responsible for inbound sales prospecting. An SDR focuses on researching, reaching out to new potential prospects, and managing leads or potential clients that have reached out to the company through the company’s various sales channels, or through business development representatives (BDR). The SDR tries to qualify the lead based on pre-determined criteria and move that lead down the sales funnel.
What are the roles of an SDR?
Some of the essential roles of sales development representatives are:
- Generation, engagements, and qualification of leads
- Lead nurturing through phone calls, emails, and appointments
- Effectively working with the sales team and moving leads through the sales pipeline
- Preliminary price negotiation with clients in line with the company’s internal guidelines.
- Keeping the team updated with prospecting progress and timeline.
- Providing the team accurate forecasting of anticipated sales.
- Identifying partner opportunities to cross and up-sell products or services.
- Scheduling and attending face-to-face meetings with prospects.
- Providing advice on critical products and services.
- Answer questions and send resources to prospects.
What are the 10 top skills for a successful SDR?
To succeed in their roles, SDRs possess specific skills.
- Empathy and active listening: A sales development representative should be able to actively listen to the prospects to learn about their needs. A good SDR will be able to clarify the prospect’s specific areas of concern, which will help others on the sales team determine the solution that best meets the prospect’s needs..
- Rapport building: Building rapport might not be easy via phone calls and emails, but an SDR must master these skills.
- Coachability: A good SDR must be coachable and ready to learn and improve.
- Voice animation: It is crucial that an SDR masters how to send excellent voice messages that draw prospects to call back after receiving the messages.
- Adaptability: A good SDR should be able to answer questions on the spot and keep the natural flow in their conversation with the prospect.
- Time management: Being able to manage time is a vital skill to master as an SDR. Time management entails analyzing and identifying the leads who show the most potential, then concentrating efforts that move them through the sales funnel.
- Self-awareness: A sales development representative should be strong enough to accept rejections and move on to the next set of prospects.
- Self-control: The ability to gain self-control and not be distracted while communicating with prospects cannot be overemphasized. It is natural to think about a reply with while the client is still talking but controlling that distraction to focus on listening first will yield better results.
- Teamwork and collaboration: SDRs should be able to collaborate and work effectively with other team members of the sales department, especially the AEs and ARs. This requires excellent communication skills.
- Creativity: There might be protocols, scripts, and guidelines to follow. However, SDRs must be open to creativity to deal with different situations that arise during the process.
How do SDRs perform their roles?
To connect with new prospects, an SDR employs cold emails, phone calls, voicemails, direct emails, personalized videos, social media messages, and more in finding a prospect.
Once the prospect is qualified, the SDR passes the lead over to either the sales representatives, account executives (AEs), or account representatives (ARs) for closing. In large corporations, an SDR may also work with a business development representative (BDR). Unlike SDR that focuses on inbound lead, BDR usually deals with outbound lead generation or qualification.
For sales departments to succeed, a steady flow of qualified leads must move from the SDR to the ARs and AEs for conversion. Otherwise, the sales cycle will drag or the lead may decide to buy somewhere else.
How the SDR benefits an organization
A sales department that hopes to close more sales benefits from a solid SDR team. According to research from TOPO, a sales cycle that involves sales development reps achieves a close rate of 22% compared to when the salespeople go it alone.
- Help increase sales rate through quantity (contacts made, number of leads passed along) and quality (number of leads that close, average transaction size, time to close) lead generation.
- Yield more sales than advertisements and may contribute to reduced operational costs since advertisement costs more.
- Improve operational efficiency by allowing the higher-level sales rep to focus more on closing deals.
- Make a company more competitive. For instance, while competitors control every aspect of their sales cycle, a company that incorporates an SDR in their sales cycle can quickly close deals through rapport building, presentation, and negotiation.
- Make a company more profitable. Quality lead generation translates to increased sales which leads to revenue generation and thus profitability.