Your organization’s hidden weapon is more essential than you realize.
Prospecting is perhaps the most difficult work in a sales organization. As humans, we generally fear rejection and summarily avoid it. But in the role of a Business Development Representative (BDR) or Sales Development Representative (SDR), that is a daily reality. While these incoming leads and interactions with the company may seem like the prospect is reaching out, many times, they aren’t. BDRs are faced with the monumental task of nurturing, engaging, and tracking down leads to find the right ones to pass onward to sales representatives to close the opportunity. Effectively, BDRs are at the edge of the marketing team and the front line of the sales team, bridging the gap so potential revenue does not fall through the cracks. The importance of BDRs should never be underestimated as they help to grow your pipeline and improve marketing efforts.
Many times, a BDR is seen as an entry-level job, so easy that a college graduate can do it or someone with no sales training. This misconception is why so many disregard this role as easy or simple when it is anything but. In fact, an organization that empowers their business development representatives have tapped into one of their greatest resources, a secret weapon if you will.
Understanding the Role of a Business Development Representative
Let’s take a step back; what exactly is a Business Development Representative and what’s their job? In essence, a BDR is:
A Business Development Representative is a specialized agent of the sales or marketing team that works on building a company’s new revenue pipeline. Utilizing tools such as demographic research, campaign targeting, cold-calling, emails, and form fills, a BDR strategically builds an organization’s brand awareness and aids in driving product interest.
There are a few things to note here: Depending on the organization, BDRs can sit either on the marketing or the sales team because they are effectively the bridge between marketing leads and handing off opportunities to sales. As such, there is no right or wrong place to have this team a part of though there are proponents for each. This is crucial to note though—sitting between marketing and sales, BDRs act as quality control to fully qualify prospects that are marketing qualified lead score (MQL) to a sales qualified lead (SQL), and thus further enabling account executives (AE) on the sales team to build the relationship with the prospect from opportunity to close.
Effectively, a BDR is a market researcher, sales representative, and customer service professional rolled into a single job description. Through a CRM and a variety of other tools (like Sugar Hint), BDRs research their prospect and engages with them through social media, email, and cold-calling. Each of these tasks, upon connection with the prospect customer, allows them to gather information to enable the AE they work with to help close new business deals.
What a BDR Does for Sales Teams
By qualifying leads that come from marketing, BDRs effectively control the quality of the leads that transition to the AEs to ensure that they are serious about potentially purchasing a product or service. However, that’s only part of what the BDR really does because every conversation, email click, and interaction with a BDR is an opportunity to find out more information about the prospect.
BDRs are personable data miners for the AEs they work with, providing all the information they learn through conversations with a prospect to make sure that the buying experience is both comprehensive and personalized. Starting with the basic information, BDRs may only be provided a name, email address, and/or telephone plus the product interest. That’s not a lot of information in which to base a potential sale. The BDR then engages with the prospect, finding information out via intelligent systems and searches to glean information that will be useful to further conversations. Through social media like LinkedIn, intuitive CRM tools, and connected technology, BDRs start to engage with the prospect through a predetermined cadence.
Though the lead may be an MQL, a BDR makes certain that a prospect is engaged through systematic touches blending together cold-calling, appointment setting, and email. At this point, any information is used to further conversations, but this is often when BDRs face the most rejection. On average, only 13% of leads convert to opportunities, meaning that even a talented BDR faces the reality that roughly 9 out of 10 conversations will not continue into the sales cycle. By engaging and prospecting, BDRs effectively weed out the leads that shouldn’t transition to sales, moves those who aren’t ready to buy back into marketing for nurturing, and finds true nuggets of gold that can enhance conversations for those who are ready for a conversation with an AE.
Those nuggets are important because they tailor the sales experience to the customer and provide critical insight to the AEs. Through every action, BDRs effectively act as scribes, recording everything from anecdotal information about the prospect to finding out which competitors they are considering. Additionally, they provide insight into where the prospect is in the buyer’s journey and help to tailor their organization’s customer experience.
What a BDR Does for Marketing Teams
Similarly, BDRs work closely with marketing teams because they are the filter between sales and marketing. Through this relationship, BDRs can help marketing in multiple ways. As the first to receive MQLs from the marketing team, BDRs are the first to sound the alarm if something isn’t working in the lead scoring system. Often BDRs can provide a unique insight into the readiness of the customer based on their conversations including if the conversation is premature or overdue.
While it’s estimated that roughly 70% decision making occurs before a buyer reaches out to sales, that doesn’t mean that they are sitting idle. Often prior to this, they are gathering information including consuming content, signing up for emails and news from a shortlist of companies, and looking for social proof. Each of these aspects is what helps create an MQL. Marketing teams gate content with forms to gather information about contacts to place them into this lead qualification process, the type of form often is scored differently depending on the content and the length of the form. If something is off with this system, BDRs are the first to notify marketing that these leads are over or under-qualified and helps to hone the process to a better, more accurate lead scoring model for future use.
Just like BDRs help AEs mine information for sales conversations, BDRs can also provide important insight to marketing teams. While marketing may understand what the prospect consumed, based on their conversations a BDR can learn what was the most impactful to the prospect, where it was consumed, and any other avenues of influence that affected their decision to pursue the company. A person may receive 10 emails in a nurture campaign but maybe it was the content provided in the third or ninth that enticed them to engage or it was an advertisement on social media that spurred them to give your organization consideration. This information allows marketers to focus on what works and leave behind what doesn’t, all based on information from a BDR conversation. In the same way, BDRs can provide insight into the important review sites for the company affecting buying decisions and help marketing to hone their demographic and firmographic information for better targeting during campaigns.
A Truly Valuable Part of an Organization
There’s a lot to be said for the importance of excellent sales and marketing teams, but often overlooked, BDRs are absolutely invaluable. Providing unique insight and bridging the gap between sales and marketing, BDRs are valuable to an organization—your secret weapon to growing the sales pipeline, increasing revenue, and improving marketing campaigns.
Growing a business is always a goal and thus, your organization cannot afford to overlook the importance of the business development team (or sales development team alternatively). BDRs can provide your organization with an edge over your competitors and help further the customer experience in your organization. Don’t dismiss or forget about this essential team player within your organization.