Your Ultimate Guide to Business Development Representatives

How do businesses continue to grow their profits? The answer is simple: an excellent Business Development Representative (or BDR, for short). A BDR is not to be confused with another job title in the sales team: the Sales Development Representative – or SDR.

Your Ultimate Guide to Business Development Representatives 

How do businesses continue to grow their profits? The answer is simple: an excellent Business Development Representative (or BDR, for short). 

A BDR is not to be confused with another job title in the sales team: the Sales Development Representative – or SDR

SDRs focus on qualifying inbound leads, while BDRs prospect external leads. This means they reach out to potential customers with cold emailing, calling and networking. 

Many BDRs will do remote work – as a lot of outreach like email or calling can be done from anywhere – but most of the time, they will usually be based in the office. 

In business’ sales teams across the globe – from London to New York – these jobs are becoming increasingly important, and here’s why.

What do Business Development Reps do? 💻

In a nutshell: if you’re a Business Development Rep, you’ll research new opportunities to spread the word about your company’s product or service. 

You’ll work with a view to transforming these cold leads into clients: that is, generating enough interest so that the customer purchases your product – whether that’s insurance, educational services or marketing packages. 

To do this, BDRs will need to learn the art of people skills. During the outreach process, you’ll be adept at asking questions about the client’s needs and tailoring your approach to suit them. 

What are the main role responsibilities?

Essentially, your time as a Business Development Rep will be spent on two key areas: market research and the corresponding outreach process

  1. Firstly, you’ll search for new prospects by conducting research into the market – like growth areas, trends, industry news and organisations (or client pools).
  2. Secondly, you’ll use a range of techniques to reach out to the organisations you’ve found via email, phone or face-to-face. This is known as a cold contact. 

What’s the difference between a BDR and SDR? 🤝

PSA: Business Development Representatives and Sales Development Representatives are not the same jobs

Think of it like this: the BDR is in charge of generating interest – or marketing the product to the customer – while the SDR is in charge of turning that interest into sales

The BDR’s focus is external: on looking outside the business for clients. The SDR’s focus is internal, concentrating on pulling those clients into the business. The two help each other – like two sides of the same coin. 

How do BDRs and SDRs work together?

Let’s say you’re working for an education start-up in London selling training courses for university admissions tests. 

Business Development Reps might search for a college – either based in London, or elsewhere in the United Kingdom – with a view to offering this course to their students. They might spend time reaching out via a cold email or remote call to learn more about the college’s requirements – and to give them the opportunity to ask questions

When it comes to making sales, this is where SDRs take over to apply their skills of persuasion. They’ll contact the college and then convert them into a paying client. Success! 

Ultimately, BDRs and SDRs act as a united team to boost the growth of the company

Why do companies need BDRs? 💼

Did you know that the average customer interacts with a brand seven times before buying from them? 

This is known as the ‘Marketing Rule of 7’ – and it’s applicable to sales too. Making a sale is a long-term process and, in order to grow, businesses should invest their resources in the background work

This is where the Business Development Rep steps in. It’s their responsibility to apply a big-picture view to the business’ growth, partnerships and opportunities to increase their brand profile. 

Why are BDRs so important for a business?

A BDR acts as the social face of a brand. They represent the company – and its service or product – to a customer in any given interaction, so they’re hugely important. 

Companies rely on the employees in these jobs to do a deep-dive into untapped leads that otherwise may not be found. 

This could be coming up with creative strategies to make it clear to potential clients that your business’ services will be beneficial to them – or it might be gaining the edge over competitors by cornering a niche section of the market. 

Put simply, these Reps are needed to lead growth, broaden the client base and drive the business’ success. 

What are Business Development Rep salaries? 💰

Business Development Rep jobs have varying salary scales depending on location

In the United States, the top 10% of highest-paid BDRs earn salaries as high as $82,000, according to a report by Zippia. 

And that’s not all: as this is a job based on sales, you can also expect a bonus for every lead you bring in. According to Springboard, most Reps in the US also earn an average of $12,500 in commission on top of their salary.

What are BDR salaries like across the pond? In the United Kingdom, the average salary is £31,815 per year in a London location, according to Glassdoor. On top of this, the average commission in London is £10,146 (but this varies hugely between £3,361 and £30,624!). 

What is OTE? 💸

On job listings, you’ll also spot another salary detail: OTE. This stands for On-Target Earnings. 

Essentially, OTE is the base salary a sales rep can expect to earn if they manage to achieve 100% of their performance targets. This might mean a certain percentage of your contacts becoming customers – or a certain revenue figure you’re aiming to hit. 

What does the OTE figure consist of? 

The OTE figure usually consists of three elements: 

  1. The basic salary (the figure you’ll earn regardless of your performance)
  2. Commission (a percentage of the revenue you bring in)
  3. Bonuses (on top of commission – this may vary depending on the business)

When you search for a BDR role, make sure to clarify what the salary figure listed includes (or excludes). 

What are the career development opportunities? ⬆️

The good news about this title is that there are many opportunities for progression. 

You can negotiate to increase the commission on top of your salary as part of your annual pay review, or you can apply for a more senior position within the sales team

For example, many people progress to a Business Development Manager level. This involves overseeing more junior members of the team and leading the outreach strategy from a managerial perspective. 

Salaries vary for this type of role. But, according to Glassdoor, the average BDM salary is £44,053 in London. A good prospect for developing your skills!

What are the five essential traits needed to be a Business Development Representative?

From flawless communication to a flair for the creative process, there are a range of skills you’ll need to apply to your role as a Business Development Rep. 

Take a look at the five key traits needed to help you ace those numbers in this job. Have you got what it takes? 

1. A business mindset 💡

We know: this sounds obvious. But it’s one of the most important traits to learn in this role. 

You’ll be in charge of creating a prospect list (that is, new clients) so a strong business mindset is essential in this job

In other words: you’ll know your detailed client profiles, where a potential prospect can be found, and how to reach them to drive sales

2. Excellent communication skills 💬

A Business Development Representative: otherwise known as the ultimate networking guru. 

Did you know that 92% of all customer interactions occur over the phone? You’ll be spending a lot of time chatting to people from all backgrounds – remote as well as in person – so great communication skills are a must-have.

Whether you’re at an important networking event or meeting with a prospective client, you’ll be adept at nurturing face-to-face connections through active listening, asking questions and engaging social conversation.

3. Confidence 😎

Confidence is key in many work situations – but it will particularly help the Business Development Representative in sales and marketing

Lead generation via cold calls, emails or social selling often involves some rejection, so you’ll need to be highly motivated and resilient. 

Confidence is also crucial for networking: you’ll meet different companies and potential prospects every day. The secret to generating those leads? You’ll be super smooth in all scenarios. 

4. Creativity 🎨

A key part of this sales job is thinking outside the box. 

What are some untapped leads your competitors may not have thought of? Can you use a compelling email marketing strategy to spread the word about your company product? Are there inventive ways to grab the attention of your customer

Being able to think creatively is a sure-fire way to succeed as a BDR. If you spend your time thinking up fresh ideas, this is the job title for you.


5. Ambition 💪

You’ll aim high – with your salary as well as your prospect research

Whether you approach a company for that business partnership or strategically email those household-name brands, Business Development Representatives will dream big. 

Ready to become a BDR? Explore our programme today!


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