What Is a Business Development Representative (BDR)?

BDR Meeting Prospect

What are Business Development Representatives (BDRs)?


In short, a business development representative is a guide for your business, opening doors and leading the business through them. They create new business opportunities, usually by reaching out to prospective clients and customers, as well as assisting with the sales process. They are expert marketers whose job is to help the business achieve growth and expansion by repeatedly seizing new business opportunities.

Sales Development Representative Vs. Business Development Representative

The main difference between a sales development representative (SDR) and a business development representative (BDR) is that the sales development representative is focused on selling your products or services to customers. BDRs, on the other hand, do not focus on closing the deal, but on building long-term business relationships.

They both reach out to prospects, but BDRs will more likely pass leads into the sales funnel, to a member like the account executive, while SDRs are members of their respective sales teams. This often comes with sales quotas and other responsibilities that differ from the BDR, which is usually just the first point of contact.

Where Do BDRs Provide Value?

BDRs provide value in several places within a business. The first that comes to mind is outreach, with business development representatives doing the majority of outbound communications and initiating communication streams. However, they are also concerned with customer success, and will often pass information and suggestions to the product development team to ensure customers are more satisfied with the products on offer.

What Does a Business Development Representative Do?

There are many functions that a business development representative performs in a company, including generating qualified prospects and ensuring a constant flow of potential customers. The tools they have at their disposal to accomplish this may surprise you, as they can be somewhat of a jack of all trades.

BDRs are Masters of Research

BDR Meeting Prospect

For any of the other functions performed by a BDR, they must be able to do research. This may be to find an untapped market or audience for a company or to find potential partners or leads to reach out to. Any good business development representative will use data and information to find market insights that will help them in their approach.

Lead Generation

A key tool of a business development representative is an effective lead generation strategy. As mentioned before, this starts with research and data. Then, the BDR can assist the usage of this information to find new audiences and lookalike audiences from which to generate leads. They use various platforms to do this including social media, SEO, cold emails, and cold calls.

Cold Calling and Cold Emailing

The content of a cold email or cold call depends heavily on its purpose. Sometimes a simple letter of introduction is the best fit, but sometimes a more intensive cold pitch will be required. Either way, a BDR will use tact and experience to reach out to your prospects, often delivering the impact of a full sales team. However, it’s uncommon for the business development representative to close sales. More often, they are the first contact with prospects, offering information and building a relationship with them. The job of closing the sale is usually passed internally to an Account Executive.

The Impact of Networking


As you’ve almost definitely heard before, it’s not what you know, but who you know. While this isn’t totally true, and knowledge is invaluable in today’s data-driven world, an extensive network is always a strength. BDRs can leverage their networks to promote business initiatives like lead generation and collaboration, which can speed up the process of business growth. While business development representatives often bring their own networks into the fray, they are also great at building your company’s own network by working face-to-face with prospects and partners.


What good is a prospective customer if they are not able or willing to buy what your company is selling? None! A business development representative knows this and makes sure to qualify prospects before sending them further into the sales funnel. Qualified prospects are significantly more likely to convert, while unqualified potential clients carry large turnover rates and it’s risky to spend money trying to sell to them.

What Skills Does a Business Development Representative Need to Succeed?

Interpersonal and Communication Skills

Enthusiastic BDR

Obviously, doing all the amazing things mentioned above is no easy task unless you have an outstanding level of charisma. Interpersonal skills help BDRs in qualifying leads, social selling, building an online community, and gaining a deep understanding of untapped markets. Without the ability to communicate with potential leads on a deeper level, many cold calls would be a waste of time. Well-executed communication allows business development representatives to seize strategic opportunities and identify when they’ve found an ideal customer.

Creative Marketing Practices

Not everything the business development representative does is cut and dry. Sometimes actions like building a presence on social media take a serious amount of creativity. They have to come up with original ideas and apply marketing tactics and responsible business practices to those ideas. Even writing email campaigns can be difficult without some creative juices flowing.

Adaptability and Agility

Inevitably in business, not every move will work as intended. However, not only the successful attempts make a difference, as a failure, by definition, teaches you something that doesn’t work. Perhaps a business development representative initially thinks SEO is the best method for finding potential buyers, but soon discovers that cold calls generate more leads for the company. This might be an opportunity to lean into what’s working and trim the resources allocated to the less successful venture.

Active Listening

For business development representatives to fulfill such an important role in the company, they must be capable of active listening. This means the BDR must carefully listen to what the prospect says and respond creatively, based on the information they were given. Not simply preparing to say the next line on the script, for instance. New leads, as well as qualified leads, are people, and people respond best when they feel heard.



In sales and marketing, it’s important to be persistent. The ability of BDRs to apply new resources and tactics to reach back out to potential customers often makes the difference between sales and no sales.

Business Acumen

Perhaps one of the most important skills of business development representatives is a sense of how to respond to the complex business situation their companies are dealing with on a day-to-day basis. The keenness and agility with which the business professional can respond to new information and make quick decisions is of utmost importance.

Sales Team Skills

At heart, a business development representative is a member of the sales team. While they aren’t sales reps, per se, they do perform many of the same essential functions. For instance, BDRs are masters of cold calling, sales, marketing, networking, and managing business relationships. However, they often pass their leads, qualifying them first, to a sales development representative or a sales rep. Instead, they focus more on rapport skills.

Rapport Building

Business Development Representative

Rapport building is the art of initiating potential clients in the sales process without being ‘salesy.’ It involves building a deeper relationship with them and understanding their wants and motivations. In a team environment, the potential clients can be passed on into the sales funnel, where the chances of success are much higher due to an increased understanding of their buying habits and needs.

A Personalized Approach

Companies are often too focused on broadly marketing their products and services, that they forget to personalize their approach when reaching out. However, BDRs focus on building relationships with personalized messaging, and they market the company’s products based on the client’s needs.


If the skills and responsibilities listed above sound exactly like you, starting a new career as a business development representative may be a perfect fit! Being the marketing jack of all trades is an important role in the company and can help you provide success for the business by building impactful client relationships, assisting in product development, and developing your interpersonal and communication skills.