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What Is A Business Development Representative (BDR): Everything You Need to Know

What is a Business Development Representative?

Sales roles, titles, and responsibilities have changed and continue to adapt to keep up with the fast pace of the changing attention of the customer.  

The very core of all of these sales roles is what we call the BDR.  

What is a (BDR) business development representative you ask?  

We’ll dive below into every angle of what one is, what one isn’t, when and why you need them, and what strategies they should be following.

The business development representative is the trojan horse, the front line, the boxers jab of the sales team.

They are tasked with the cold work of opening doors of interest to prospects who have no clue who your brand of offering is.  

They do the dirty work.

But, is this role shifting?

Is it dying?

What should we be doing now to prepare?

Why Business Development Representatives Exist

Most likely, your customers don’t know who you are.  

But, if you’ve done your job right in your product/market fit research you should know exactly who your prospects are.  

The job of making your customers aware of who you are is a split job between marketing and sales.  More specifically, the business development representative (BDR).  

Appropriate outreach via phone, email, and social is necessary to inquire from your prospects if they are in fact experiencing the pain that your product solves.  

If you don’t have anyone doing outreach, your prospects will never know about you and the sales process can never begin.

The business development rep leads this charge.  

He or she is tasked with this surge of outbound activity raising the flag to your prospects letting them know you exist. It’s a critical job for any business looking to grow.

BDR graduation - what is a business development representative.jpg

Who To Hire For the Role

Typically, the role of the business development representative is filled by hungry sales people early in their career.  

  • It takes grit.  
  • It takes volume.
  • It takes patience.  

Find people who have thick skin, patience, and a desire to prove themselves to climb up the ladder within your organization.  

Many companies hire this role straight out of college.  This strategy can be effective if you have the right training system in place.

However, more importantly than the talent of the people on your business development team is the person you choose to lead them.  

The manager over your business development representative (BDR)) is the most critical role in your company.  These green reps needs ongoing training, direction, and tight management.

Don’t just let a BDR out to fend on his own.

The Changing World of the Business Development Representative

As mentioned earlier, the role of the business development rep is evolving — as it should.  

The needs of our prospects change over time.

They adapt.  

They take in information differently.  

They become more picky.  

They have different expectations for how they purchase.  

With that, the way we do our cold outreach should change too.

How Cold Outreach Has Evolved with the BDR

Phone - what is a bdr.jpg

1. The Phone

5 years ago calling a prospect used to be a little easier.  

People actually answered the phone.

They listened to and returned voicemails.

Today, not so much.

This doesn’t mean cold calling is dead.  

It means that BDRs need to be PERFECT when someone does answer.  They don’t get as many at bats as they used to.  

The phone will never die as a mean of communication.  But, the strategy for how you use it must evolve.

Today, decision makers carry cell phones that they use for business as much as personal. It’s no longer taboo to call, or even sometimes text, a prospect on their cell.

2. Email

Much like the phone, email used to be a common tool for communication. People used to read all of their emails.

Today, people have been programmmed to assume that emails are spam.  

That’s because most are.

Your BDRs need to be equipped now more than ever to write meaningful emails that hit home quickly and efficiently.  

You can’t come close these days to the email conversion rates you used to get unless your messaging is PERFECT.  

Don’t spam your prospects — provide them value to prove your company can be trusted.

3. Technology

Your business development representatives have access to more technology today than ever before.  If used properly, these technologies can be a massive advantage in their outreach.

VR headset - what is a business development representative.jpg
  • Use a powerful CRM to help with sequencing and consistent follow up.
  • Use tracking technology to understand the activity of your prospects.  
  • Use insight technology to give your reps a holistic view of your prospect’s online presence and interests.  
  • Use video to easily and uniquely share your message.  

And try new things!  

New technology is emerging every day to make sales easier and smarter.

Try them out.

4. Sales Process

Your prospects have 10x more options today than they ever had before.  You must equip your business development representatives (BDRs) with a sales process that has ease in mind for your prospects.  

Don’t make people jump through hoops to schedule demos or buy your product.  Keep it simple. Make it easy! Remove the friction.

The Future of the Business Development Rep (BDR)

As the behavior of the consumer changes, so does the strategy for how we engage with them.  

The future of the BDR is an interesting one. The customer is putting up more and more walls.

They are more skeptical than ever.  Trust is at an all time low. All of these make success in the BDRs chair harder and harder.  

It’s not that the people in the role aren’t good enough.

The problem is that customers want to make their own decisions, on their own time, in their own way more than ever.  This puts the future of the business development rep in jeopardy.

Over time, the BDR role will evolve as digital marketing and company brand take over.  

If your marketing and branding is done right, your BDRs will shift to qualifying and providing experience to inbound inquiries as opposed to cold outreach.

Josh currently offers free Sales Growth Strategy calls for founders/CEOs of B2B companies looking to develop a plan for how to generate more leads, build bigger pipelines, and grow your business through modern sales.

You can learn more and save your spot here.

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