The Difference Between BDR and SDR Roles | Easy Guide

In the world of sales and business development, two key roles have emerged that play a crucial part in the […]

In the world of sales and business development, two key roles have emerged that play a crucial part in the success of an organization: the Business Development Representative (BDR) and the Sales Development Representative (SDR). While these roles may seem similar, they have distinct responsibilities and require different skill sets. 

BDRs (Business Development Representatives) focus on prospecting and generating outbound leads, while SDRs (Sales Development Representatives) focus on qualifying and inbound marketing leads.

This article will explore the key differences between BDR and SDR roles, helping you understand each position’s unique contributions to a company’s SaaS sales and growth.

  • Quick Definition:
  • BDR (Business Development Representative): Focuses on prospecting outbound leads.
  • SDR (Sales Development Representative): Focuses on qualifying inbound marketing leads.

If you do not have information about inbound and outbound leads, then you must understand the difference between them.

For most B2B SaaS companies below $50M in ARR, these roles are often the same, with SDR/BDR being used interchangeably.

Now let us discuss both one by one.

What is a Business Development Representative (BDR)?

A Business Development Representative (BDR) is primarily responsible for identifying and pursuing new business opportunities for a company. Their primary focus is expanding the customer base and generating qualified leads that can be handed off to the sales team for further nurturing and conversion. BDRs typically engage in activities such as:

1. Prospecting: 

BDRs are skilled at researching and identifying potential customers who fit the company’s products or services well. They use various tactics to connect with these prospects, including cold calling, email outreach, and social media.

2. Lead Generation: 

BDRs generate high-quality leads that are more likely to convert into paying customers. They may use content marketing, event participation, and referral programs to attract and qualify potential leads.

3. Relationship Building: 

BDRs establish and nurture relationships with potential customers. They aim to understand the customer’s pain points, needs, and challenges, and position the company’s offerings as the best solution.

4. Collaboration with Sales:

 BDRs work closely with the sales team to hand off qualified leads and provide valuable insights into the target market and customer behavior.

What is a Sales Development Representative (SDR)?

A Sales Development Representative (SDR) is primarily responsible for the initial stages of the sales process, focusing on lead qualification and nurturing. Their role is to identify, engage, and qualify potential customers, preparing them for the next step in the sales cycle. SDRs typically engage in activities such as:

1. Lead Qualification: 

SDRs are skilled in evaluating the quality and potential of leads, determining which ones are the most promising and worth further attention from the sales team.

2. Lead Nurturing:

 SDRs work to build relationships with qualified leads, providing them with valuable information, answering their questions, and guiding them through the early stages of the sales process.

3. Outreach and Engagement: 

SDRs use various communication channels like phone, email, and social media to connect with potential customers and keep them engaged throughout the sales cycle.

4. Collaboration with Sales

SDRs work closely with the sales team, providing detailed information about qualified leads and their needs, enabling the sales team to focus on closing deals.

Also Read: Best Saas Payment Gateways in 2024

Critical Differences Between BDRs and SDRs

Here are the key differences between BDRs and SDRs

FocusIdentifying and pursuing new business opportunitiesLead qualification 
ProspectingResponsible for initial prospecting and lead-generation activitiesWork with leads generated by BDRs
Sales Cycle StageInvolved in the earlier stages of the sales cycleInvolved in the middle stages of the sales cycle
CollaborationWork closely with the marketing teamWork closely with the sales team
Skills RequiredStrong prospecting and relationship-building skillsExcellent communication and lead nurturing skills

What is the Average Time Before a BDR or SDR is Promoted to AE?

The typical promotion timeline from BDR or SDR to Account Executive (AE) is:

  • For BDRs:
  •  The average timeline is 12-24 months
  •  Top performers may get promoted in as little as 12 months
  • At high-growth companies, it could be 6-9 months
  • For SDRs:
  • The average is 18-24 months, longer than BDRs
  • Top performers may get promoted in 12-15 months

The timelines vary based on the individual’s performance, the company’s growth stage, and its mobility policies. High achievers demonstrating strong skills tend to get promoted faster. The key is consistently exceeding targets and developing the necessary sales abilities.

Relying solely on inbound leads for SDRs can be dangerous

  • Dangers:
  • Passive approach, missing opportunities 
  • Narrow prospecting pool
  • Underdeveloped outreach skills
  • Over-dependence on marketing 
  • Lack of flexibility to changing conditions

To mitigate risks, a balanced approach is needed:

  • Solutions:
  • Add outbound tactics like cold calls, emails, social outreach
  • Use both inbound and outbound for well-rounded skills
  • Collaborate with marketing for aligned strategies  
  • Provide ongoing training on prospecting and outreach

A blend of inbound and outbound makes SDRs more proactive, versatile, and effective at driving sales outcomes. Avoiding an inbound-only focus is key.

BDR and SDR goals

BDR and SDR goals typically focus on either:

  • 1) Demos Booked
  • Common for early-stage companies focused on lead generation
  • The goal is usually 10-20 demos booked per month
  • Measures effectiveness at identifying and qualifying leads
  • 2) Revenue Generated
  • More typical for mature companies focused on revenue growth
  • Goals can range from $50K to $250K in annual recurring revenue
  • Aligns with overall sales team objectives for closed deals

The choice depends on the company’s stage and priorities. Some use a combination of demo and revenue goals.

The key is ensuring goals align with broader sales strategy and are adjusted as needed to drive desired outcomes.


In summary, the critical difference between BDR and SDR roles lies in their focus and responsibilities within the sales and growth process.

 BDRs are responsible for identifying and pursuing new business opportunities, while SDRs are responsible for qualifying and nurturing those leads for the sales team. Understanding the distinct roles and contributions of BDRs and SDRs can help organizations optimize their sales and growth strategies, ensuring that each team member is focused on their unique strengths and responsibilities.

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