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What is a Sales Development Representative (SDR)

A Sales Development Representative (SDR) is an inside sales rep who focuses on the qualification of leads at the top of the funnel with the goal of booking meetings for a member of the sales team in a closing role. 

An SDR works to scrub and qualify leads to ensure that they are qualified prospects for the company. Once qualified, the SDR conducts outreach to these leads via a combination of phone calls, emails, and social media outreach.

During the initial outreach, they ensure that they are reaching out to the appropriate contact within the company, if there is interest for the product or service, and if the contact would like to move forward with a meeting.

How do SDR’s work?

SDR’s mainly use these 3 channels of communication to reach out to their leads:

  • Social media
  • Telephone
  • Email

Social Selling:

From a social media standpoint, LinkedIn has had a massive impact on how professionals are interacting and selling. Just about every contact on an SDR’s list has LinkedIn profile that they are active on.

Through LinkedIn SDR’s can leverage the prospect’s interests, educational and career backgrounds, and engagement activity to learn more about them and provide a more personal outreach.

LinkedIn is also full of information to help SDR’s qualify leads and it is a great way to stay in touch with prospects who may have a future interest in the product.

For example, if an SDR has a call with a prospect who asks them to reach out in 6 months, connecting on LinkedIn is a great way to stay in touch and up to date on the prospect’s interests as time goes on.


Email is another major tool for SDR’s on a daily basis. After the information is collected about a lead, an SDR will draft up messaging to send them a personalized email with the product/service that best aligns with the company and the prospect’s role within the organization.

People get hundreds of emails a day, so it takes skill and effort to get responses via email – especially from those at the executive and C-Suite level.

The best way to get a response is to add as much personalization as possible.  Do your research on the company and be sure to include things such as how they felt about a recent event you saw they attended, an interest you have in common, or a relevant article they posted on their LinkedIn.


Cold calling is perhaps the oldest school form of outreach. The phone takes the most practice out of the ways of communication for an SDR because it is essentially in real time.  An SDR can send 100 emails at a time, but the phone is a lot more personal.

Though making cold calls can be daunting, it’s sometimes the best way to qualify someone.  A lot of information can be found in just a short phone call, and sometimes a great referral to someone else at the organization.

However, today it’s harder than ever to get someone on the phone via a cold call and if they do pickup, it’s even harder to keep them on the line. This is why it is important to follow up with voicemails and emails if you are having trouble connecting.

Where do the leads come from?

Leads are coming in to the top of the funnel from:

  • Paid advertising
  • Marketing collateral sent out
  • Content downloads
  • Website demo requests
  • Social Media
  • Prospecting
  • Events and trade shows

Tech used by SDR’s

There are tech solutions out there that can help SDR’s do their job more effectively. Here are some of the most common:

The CRM is one of the most important tools that any sales team can have. Salesforce is the most popular CRM and the source of truth for a lot of organizations – “If it is not logged in Salesforce, then it didn’t happen.”

This is where all of the lead and customer data is stored, and where all sales activity is recorded. Activities completed by SDR’s, such as emails and phone calls are tracked, allowing managers visibility into the efficiency of their team.

Sales engagement platforms are a way to increase the efficiency of SDR teams. These platforms automate things such as emails, dialing phone numbers, and logging activities into the CRM.

SalesLoft is an example of a sales engagement platform that helps automate emails and dialing, as well as logging these activities by integrating directly with Salesforce. These platforms work together to make reps lives a lot easier.

Sales enablement platforms like Bigtincan also are a valuable tool for SDRs. Content can be sent to a prospect directly from the platform with visibility into if/when the content has been viewed or forwarded within the company, helping to determine when to reach back out.

Sales Navigator from LinkedIn is a great platform for SDR’s to gain information on prospects.  Sales Navigator also gives great insights into the companies themselves and if they have made any major changes within their organization recently. Within Sales Navigator, SDR’s can build lists of leads that could be potential qualified prospects.

Who do SDR’s work with?

SDR’s work closely with multiple different teams throughout the organization. They work closest with their sales managers or directors who they are scheduling meetings for.

Most SDR’s will have a vertical or industry they are focused on, aligned with a specific sales director. When a prospect agrees to a meeting, most SDR’s will add their sales director to the call. 

On the other hand, SDR’s also have a very close relationship with marketing.

Sales and marketing have a dynamic relationship due to the fact that the sales reps are using the content that the marketing team is creating in order to sell the product and are often following up on inbound leads that marketing generated.

With SDR’s being on the frontline engaging prospects with content, it can provide great insight to the marketing team. Sales directors and SDR’s both provide feedback to marketing on which content is working best, allowing marketing an ROI on the content they are making.

The Bottomline:

An SDR does not close sales for the company, but work on the frontline to find qualified leads to hand off to higher level members of the sales team and eventually close the deal.

SDR’s are extremely valuable for organizations because they take leads from the top of the sales funnel, qualify them to ensure they are prospects for potential business, and move them into the pipeline of sales to close.

Check out my last post to see what life as an SDR is like.

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