It’s no secret that sales jargon can get tricky.
What do the salespeople at your company call themselves? Are they account executives, account managers, business development or just sales reps? As sales organizations change and evolve, it’s hard to keep up with the different roles and responsibilities of each position.
A typical business development career path is pretty unfamiliar to most. You may have friends who work as business development representatives or come across the title on a job board but have no real insight into what the position actually is or where it leads.
Luckily, I’m here to help. In this article, we’ll break down exactly what a business development representative does, how it’s different from a sales development representative and how the position fits within the bigger picture of a sales organization. Plus, we included a job description to have for reference.
What does a business development representative do?
Business development is at the forefront of the sales process. When a prospective buyer enters the sales funnel, they are first passed off to the business development team.
What does a business development representative do?
A business development representative (BDR, for short) is responsible for generating new business opportunities. BDRs are responsible for qualifying leads and prospecting through existing business accounts to engage with prospective buyers.
On a daily basis, BDRs are making cold calls, sending emails, and leading high-level discovery calls with prospects. The ultimate goal is to book sales appointments that eventually turn into legitimate sales opportunities. Once a meeting is booked, the BDR passes the prospect off to an Account Executive (AE).
It’s important to note that while most BDR teams fall under the sales umbrella, they’re not closing any deals. Demonstrating the product, drafting a proposal and closing the deal are all the responsibilities of an AE, not a BDR. Instead, the BDR team, usually led by a business development manager, is measured on the number of meetings they book and potential deals they influence (more on that later).
Business development vs sales development
You might be asking, “So, how is that different from a sales development representative?”
At some companies, sales and business development representatives serve the same function and the names are used interchangeably. At other companies, sales and business development representatives are on the same team but have slightly different responsibilities. For the purpose of this article, we’ll take a look at the latter.
A sales development representative (SDR) is also responsible for generating new business opportunities, but they are tasked with doing so by qualifying only inbound leads. This is different than a BDR that is responsible for generating opportunities through outbound sales outreach such as email and cold calling.
In most cases, an SDR role is an entry-level position for people who are just starting their career in sales and have little prior experience. By handling only warm leads, the SDR can get accustomed to working with prospective buyers and perfect their qualifying process. Once an SDR has shown that they are ready to handle more responsibility, they have the opportunity to be promoted to a BDR and start tackling an outbound sales strategy.
Business development representative metrics
Business development representatives are measured by several different key performance metrics. Similar to a traditional sales role, BDRs will have weekly, quarterly and annual quotas. These quotas will account for things such as the number of emails sent, number of calls made and number of meetings booked. These types of prospecting activities are often stored and tracked using a CRM software.
BDRs are often also measured by overall team performance. This is tracked by looking at a BDR-influenced sales pipeline, or the number of potential deals created as a result of business development efforts. Additionally, BDRs often work closely with the marketing team, since they are the ones responsible for qualifying the leads that the marketing team brings in. By tracking how many inbound leads are considered qualified by the BDR team and which leads eventually convert to customers, marketing is able to measure their own performance and make adjustments as necessary.
Next, we’ll take a look at a typical BDR job description that summarizes all that we’ve discussed thus far. For this example, I use a fictional company called Frontier Marketing.
Business development job description
Position: Business Development Representative, full-time
Location: New York, New York
About Frontier Marketing
Since 2001, Frontier Marketing has been a leading global provider of top-notch marketing services for a variety of clientele. Our services include SEO, demand generation and paid media planning. It’s our mission to connect brands to consumers in more meaningful and memorable ways.
About the role
Frontier Marketing is looking for a Business Development Representative that is eager and excited to kick off their sales career and join our team. The ideal candidate will have an energetic, can-do attitude and be comfortable working in a metrics-driven environment.
- Prospect into strategic business accounts via cold call, email and social strategies
- Drive sales growth and pipeline through setting up qualified meetings for Account Executives
- Maintain and organize an annual book of business
- Be a subject matter expert and evangelist of Frontier Marketing’s expansive list of branding solutions
- Produce creative strategies for targeting decision-makers at prospect accounts in order to book sales appointments and influence company revenue
- Bachelor’s degree in Business, Communication or a related field
- 1-2 years of experience in a quota carrying position
- Experience with outreach such as cold calling and emailing
- Exception written and verbal communication skills
- Strong time management and organization skills
- Previous experience using marketing automation software is preferred
Job descriptions are rarely black and white, and it’s OK to admit that you don’t know exactly what someone on a different team at your company does. Now that you know the ins and outs of what it takes to be a business development representative, it’s much easier to recognize all the work that people in the role put in to help your organization reach its revenue goals.
Getting ready to interview for this position? Use our list of 15 common sales interview questions to prepare beforehand.