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Blog 30 November 2022

Sales Development Representative (SDR): What is Their Role?

Daisy Shevlin
SEO & Content Manager @ Kaspr

Sales development representatives (SDRs) are crucial in outbound sales. Their role is to focus on prospecting, outreach, and lead qualification. 


Some of the responsibilities of an SDR include:  

  1. Booking meetings. 
  2. Initial outreach to prospects. 
  3. Discovery of pain points.


A sales rep’s world centers around lead generation rather than closing deals. Once a meeting is booked, the rep will pass the prospect onto an AE for further discovery. ⏭️  

What is a sales development representative? 

SDRs are responsible for outbound activity. Their main focus is on prospecting and building the sales pipeline. 


The goal for sales reps is to book meetings with potential customers. They work towards this by building relationships with prospects from cold outreach.


Outbound sales calling, cold emailing, and LinkedIn networking are used. 🤙


It’s not about closing deals. Sales development reps reach out to leads to qualify them and push them down the sales cycle. Once the meeting is in the diary, an account executive (AE) will give them a demo and run a discovery session. 

SDR vs. BDR: How are they different? 

Okay, so we’ve gone through the fundamentals of the SDR role. But what about business development representatives (BDRs)?


The two roles can be confusing as they do overlap. 😵‍💫


Here is how to tell the difference between an SDR and a BDR: 

  1. SDRs are responsible for inbound lead qualification. 
  2. BDRs are responsible for outbound lead qualification.  


Sales reps deal with prospects that might already know of you. BDRs will have a cold calling list to reach out to new contacts in the industry. 


To push the right prospects further down the sales process, it's important that SDRs and BDRs fully understand their ideal customer profile (ICP).  


Both roles share similar responsibilities like:

  • Booking meetings.
  • Being on sales demos with AEs.
  • Digging for pain points.  

The job description of an SDR

Usually, being a rep is an entry-level position. So, to start out, you don’t need a higher education degree, but some experience in sales might help. This could even be in a B2C environment, where most people first get introduced to sales.


Typical responsibilities of the role include:

  • Prospecting and creating lists of people to outreach to in target accounts.
  • Qualify, follow up, and engage with inbound leads who have already shown interest.
  • Multi-thread stakeholders within target accounts to create a strong business case.
  • Build long-term relationships with prospects.
  • Set up meetings or demos with prospective clients for account executives.
  • Identify the needs and pain points of the prospects.
  • Outreach new target prospects through cold calling, emailing, and social media.
  • Help maintain relationships with existing clients.
  • Follow up with existing prospects in the CRM to try and identify new needs.
  • Give relevant marketing materials to prospects.

How much can you make as an SDR?

It’s no secret that you can make decent money in sales. 🤑


But when you’re just getting started, what can you expect?


Often, companies split out sales rep salaries into a base salary and a bonus centered around your performance. Built In, says that the average base salary in the US for an SDR is $57,897, with the potential to make an additional $23,713 in bonuses.


Whereas Indeed reports a $68,244 base salary with $10,900 in commission per year on average.


The split really depends on the industry you work in, plus your experience. If you’ve had an SDR role before, it’s often easier to negotiate a higher base salary.

A day in the life of a sales development rep 

Being an SDR requires routine and great time management skills. 


Your typical day as a rep could look like. 👇


08:00 - Arrive at the office 


Check emails, look for priority messages, and grab a coffee.


09:00 - Research for insights 


Respond to LinkedIn engagement, and prioritize top prospects. 


10:00 - Power hour 


Blast through cold calls and make as many dials as possible.


11:00 - Follow-up time 


Check emails and follow up on any calls.


13:00 - Post-lunch review


A sit down with the SDR manager to review performance and resolve any blockers.


13:30 - Prepare to power through dials 


Check emails and social channels, and then prepare for the next two hours of cold calling.  


14:00 - Qualification calls


Time to get in the zone and qualify prospects to push further down the sales cycle. 


16:00 - Prep for the next day 


Wrap it up. Research, and prepare for tomorrow.


17:00 - SDR career progression time 


Further learning before the end of the day. Prep for practice account executive interview.

The skills needed to be a sales representative

Being an SDR isn’t easy. There’s plenty of rejection and objections to overcome. Plus, of course, hitting your target! 


To be successful in B2B sales, you need a certain skillset. 🧰 

Prospecting skills 

B2B prospecting is all about identifying potential customers that match your ICP. It’s the step before reps reach out.


💡 Not sure how to create an ICP? 


Research your database and find out:

  • Who are your top five customers? 
  • Who are your most profitable customers? 
  • Who are your worst five customers? 

Active listening

This is a way of listening and responding to the prospect that improves mutual understanding.


Skills like this help reps build relationships and pique interest. It is crucial for those first-touch conversations where you’re gauging how suitable a target account is for your company.

Product knowledge  

To deliver the perfect pitch, you need to understand your product's features and benefits. 


Product knowledge means SDRs know that their solution is right for the prospect. This seriously helps with getting those meetings booked. 


Sophie Pease, Account Executive at Cognism says:


“Building your product knowledge is something that you can do as an SDR. Blocking out even just one hour per week.”


“It’s not just something that will help you progress to being an AE, but also something that is really going to benefit you as a sales rep to get those meetings booked.”

Communication skills 

It’s important to be able to communicate effectively across a variety of channels as a rep. Think about it, you’ve got to convey a clear message across the phone, email, messages and video or voice notes.


Strong communication skills mean you’ll deal with objections and problem-solve more efficiently. 

Time management  

This is a big one. You have to be organized in sales. 


A proper routine and time-blocked day will help any rep stay consistent and improve your productivity.  

Belief in yourself 

Confidence is the most valuable skill you can have as an SDR. 


Ben Ward-Cochrane, VP of Demand at Huq Industries, explains why: 


“Throughout your career in sales, you will have a lot of challenges. So trust yourself and be confident. As long as you stay true to who you are and your values and trust your own ability, you’ll be absolutely fine.” 

Top advice for SDR career progression  

“How will I progress?” Is usually a top question for new SDRs. 


It’s usually a role that’s viewed as a bit of a “stepping stone”. Sophie Pease, Account Executive at Cognism explains here why you shouldn’t rush the career progression from SDR to AE. 🎬 



If you want to stay in outbound sales, the two most common paths are:

  1. Promotion to account executive (AE).
  2. Sales or SDR management.  


There are so many transferable skills in the SDR role. But how do you prove that you are AE-ready? 


An AE’s main function is to help clients unpick pain points through demo and discovery calls. Their aim is to close the deal. 🤑


You need to master your current role as an SDR before you decide where you want to go next. But here are some top tips from Cognism AEs for SDR career progression.


  • Be a top-performing SDR, consistently. 
  • Get your working patterns and time blocking on point.
  • Lean into your AE pairing. 
  • Get your interview prep nailed.
  • Always reflect on your performance.


Thomas Allcock, Enterprise Sales Manager at Cognism adds to this and says: 


“Have a plan for how you envision where you want to go. Not just about the job role but also from a holistic point of view.” 

Think you’ve got what it takes?

SDRs are the core of B2B companies 💥  


Their primary focus is on prospecting and qualifying leads through the sales pipeline. 


As a sales development representative, you: 


  • Are responsible for outbound sales. Using tactics like cold calling, cold emailing, and LinkedIn networking to book meetings with potential customers.
  • Need to find prospects that match your ICP and pass them to AEs. Rather than closing deals, you push leads down the sales funnel.
  • Are slightly different from BDRs. SDRs often contact and qualify inbound leads, and BDRs do outbound lead qualification. 
  • Have lots of transferable skills. There are so many skills in sales that will further your career. 
  • A hungry to progress in your sales career. Mastering the sales development rep role is essential before deciding where to go next.
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