The Role of Sales Development Representative (SDR)
October 21, 2021

Inbound vs. Outbound: The Role of Sales Development Representatives (SDRs)

The main focus of the sales department is on directing leads through the sales funnel and closing deals. Regardless of how pivotal the final stage is, didn't underestimate the importance of the role that deals with the leads at the very first stage – sales development representative.

What an SDR's role should be? Do they need to handle inbound or outbound prospecting? What are the most required qualities for this job, and what skills make SDRs successful? You will find answers to all of these questions in this article.

However, before we dive into the SDR role and its contribution to the buyer's journey, let's define what SDR is.

What is Sales Development Representative (SDR)?

The sales development representative (SDR) is an inside sales team member responsible for finding and moving quality leads through the sales pipeline. SDR's job isn't to close new deals but to identify if the contacts would be ideal prospects for the company.

SDRs' understanding of the industry, sales processes, and the competitive landscape help them build valuable relationships. Thereby, they should obtain detailed knowledge about the prospect and company before reaching out.

Which Role Do Sales Development Reps Play Within The Sales Organization?

So, this could be a widespread situation when there is no certainty around whether SDR should do outbound or inbound sales prospecting in your company. To whom should SDR report to the marketing or sales department?

Let’s first find out the difference between outbound and inbound lead generation.

Inbound Lead Generation

Inbound is about nurturing leads through marketing campaigns and content. In exchange for valuable information about a solution, visitors leave their contacts, so later you can initiate further communication with them.
Inbound leads are also called Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs), and, usually, SDRs interact with them. MQLs are already shown some interest in your product or company by engaging with your marketing initiatives, so they are considered warm leads.

Outbound Lead Generation

On the other hand, outbound involves cold prospecting, which means reaching out to potential customers who might never before engaged with your company's ads or any other marketing initiatives.
In comparison with SDRs, who only pursue inbound leads, the job of outbound reps can be a lot more challenging. Cold contacts are mostly generated through buying email lists and manually searching new prospects on social networks like LinkedIn.

Allbound SDR is a viable solution for a problem.

If sales and marketing teams worked together in harmony, whether inbound or outbound, the world would be a better place.

In some cases, inbound SDRs even act as a function of the marketing department, as they are responsible for tracking the MQLs and the future of inbound leads.

Also, don’t forget that outbound stimulates inbound. Outbound raises awareness of your product by allowing more relevant buyers outside of your funnel to learn about it as well.

How to Become a Successful SDR?

According to the latest data, the average base salary for a sales development representative in the United States is around $45,000-48,000. However, SDRs can almost double their earnings thanks to commissions, profit-sharing, and other bonuses. You can get more information about the SDR's salary at Glassdoor or Payscale.

Let’s talk about SDRs’ skills and qualities that make them successful. We won't emphasize skills, such as learning ability or tech-savvy, suitable for many job descriptions today. Instead, we will focus on qualities essential specifically for the sales development reps' role.

Outreach Skills

SDRs should be familiar with email and social media outreach and even cold calling. They should be able to ask prospects the right questions at the right time.

This skill set also includes special attention to detail to avoid missing an anticipated date for the client, knowing what events they attend, their role models, and even their favorite color. Any piece can be a decisive factor in attracting a potential client.

Art of Listening

It's not enough to follow specific qualification scripts during interaction with prospects. An SDR must have the ability to extract critical pieces of information from conversations with potential clients.

It's half the job to recognize what qualities of the product can benefit a particular lead. By actively listening to its prospects, an SDR has the opportunity to learn the deeper needs and explore the buyer's mind.

Product Knowledge

An in-depth understanding of the company's product or products is a must for any SDR. You need to live and breathe the product, knowing not only the pros but also its cons, to answer any tricky prospect’s question instantly. Confidence during conversation is vital for an SDR, and it will be much easier to achieve this with deep knowledge and faith in the organization's product.


Research Skills

Before contacting any prospects, an SDR should find and gather as much information as possible about them. So, a high level of lead research helps you provide the sales team with more great potential leads.

In addition, an SDR should be well acquainted with a lead scoring model and be proficient with tools that facilitate lead qualification from the perspective of an ideal customer profile (ICP).

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Time Management

SDRs must be very well organized and have a complete picture in mind to operate at their peak. Knowing the funnel and where their leads are in the pipeline, they could more effectively manage their time.

Time management skills allow SDR to make an informed decision about who to contact and when. For example, SDRs should always know which lead they should handle if the initial call is rescheduled. This way, the very best reps always stay on top of things, therefore significantly improving ROI for any company.

Communication Skills

Communication skills are as crucial to SDR as active listening, if not even more. For SDRs to be successful, they should clearly explain how the solution will help businesses solve their problem and prevent any objections from potential clients.

Both written and verbal communication skills involve articulating your ideas clearly and answering questions as simply as possible. SDRs should use short sentences and avoid filler words when communicating with prospects.

Additionally, here are 3 pro tips to help you succeed as a sales development representative:

  • Continuous learning is the path to success in the profession. Always try to learn as much as possible about the sales industry. Keep in touch with your colleagues. Learn from the very best SDRs out there. Never forget to keep up with the product department for any updates on your product. Find out what others have to say about your product and your company.

  • Attention to detail will help you convert prospects more efficiently. Keep track of what works and what doesn’t. Pay attention to frequently asked questions and objections you face daily. Separate leads by shared characteristics and prepare for each conversation accordingly. Prioritize and pay more attention to those who are most likely to become a client.

  • Repeating the process that worked is probably the best strategy for the SDR role. However, you need to avoid stagnation. It's necessary to observe the efficiency of the process and improve it whenever possible. Eventually, you can find something that will work only for you and make you a successful SDR.

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