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June 12, 2024

What is a SDR in sales (Sales Development Representative)?

Discover folk - the CRM for people-powered businesses

Building a sales team for the first time? Whether you're starting from scratch or expanding your team, a sales development rep can help you expand your sales pipeline and boost sales and revenue.  It's a key role that is essential for reaching out to new prospects who may have either heard of your business, or not at all. In this blog post, we look into what exactly is an SDR, the difference between someone working in inbound versus outbound and why is this role so important for your sales team.

What is a sales development representative?

A Sales Development Representative (SDR) is someone who specializes in identifying prospective buyers by reaching out to new prospects and qualifying incoming leads. This helps ensure that the right prospects move through your sales funnel. The type of prospects they reach out to depends on whether or not they have heard of your business (inbound) or not (outbound).

With more B2B companies selling remotely, 'inside sales' is an increasingly common term used to refer to the practice of selling products or services remotely. This also falls under the SDR, also known in this case as an inside sales rep.

Inbound vs Outbound SDRs

In your sales team, an SDR role depends on whether or not you want to reach out to prospects who may or may not have heard of your business. This is divided by inbound versus outbound sales roles. The majority of B2B sales and marketing leaders use sales development representatives to support lead nurturing and management activities. Which goes to show that having both are important for your sales cycle and strategy.

Outbound SDRs

The main focus of outbound SDRs is to reach out to prospects who might not have heard of your business. In other words, they're converting prospects into leads. This requires an Outbound SDR rep to understand your ideal customer profile to identify target prospects.

Outbound prospecting involves:

  • Cold calling
  • Cold emailing
  • Social selling
  • Networking and events
  • Account based marketing

These are referred to as 'cold' forms of communication because they're reaching out to someone that has not directly expressed the intention to buy yet.

Inbound SDRs

The main focus of inbound SDRs is to reach out to people who may have left their contact information in order to download 'gated' content (content behind a form). This is commonly referred in the sales cycle as converting inbound leads into paying customers.

Inbound SDRs typically reach out to prospects by:

  • Reaching out to a prospect who has filled a form to contact you or download content
  • Responding to contact forms that have been filled
  • Webinar and event follow-up

Why do you need an SDR in your team?

An SDR adds a lot of value to your overall sales process. They're usually the ones who do the research into a prospect and company before getting in touch with them, which means they have a good understanding about the industry, overall sales process and market. After marketing, they're also usually the first point of contact someone has with your business.

Both inbound and outbound SDRs offer several advantages, including:

  1. Higher quality leads: SDRs specialize in identifying and qualifying leads, ensuring that only the most promising prospects are passed on to the sales team.
  2. Increasing brand awareness: This happens especially as outbound SDRs contact people who might not have otherwise heard of your business
  3. Consistent pipeline: With SDRs continually feeding qualified leads into the sales pipeline, your team can maintain a steady flow of opportunities, reducing the peaks and valleys of sales activity.
  4. Better data and insights: SDRs gather valuable information about prospects and market trends, which can inform your sales strategies and help refine your target audience.
  5. Conversations with marketing: SDRs are a great source of information for sales enablement content because they can share insight into what conversations are going on with prospects, what they're interested in and pain points to address more in your content.

What skills should SDRs in B2B sales have?

In the context of B2B sales, SDRs need to navigate a change in modern consumer behavior, complex sales cycles and interact with multiple stakeholders. Below are some specialized skills for an SDR team in B2B.

  1. Industry Knowledge: Understanding the specific industry of their prospects enables SDRs to have more meaningful and relevant conversations.
  2. Networking: Building relationships with key decision-makers and influencers within target companies is essential.
  3. Solution Selling: B2B SDRs need to frame their company's offerings as solutions to the specific challenges faced by potential clients.
  4. Analytical Thinking: The ability to analyze data and extract insights helps SDRs optimize their outreach strategies and improve lead qualification processes.
  5. Strong communication: Both written and verbal communication skills are critical. SDRs need to craft compelling emails, make persuasive phone calls, and engage effectively on social media.
  6. Active listening: Understanding the needs and pain points of potential clients is essential for successful lead qualification.
  7. Research abilities: SDRs must be adept at researching companies and industries to identify high-potential leads and tailor their outreach accordingly.
  8. Persistence and resilience: The role involves a lot of rejection. SDRs need to stay motivated and persistent despite setbacks.
  9. Tech savvy: Familiarity with CRM systems, email marketing tools, and other sales technologies is crucial for efficient workflow management. Especially in B2B SaaS companies.

3 SDR tools your business needs for your sales process

The tech stack your SDR sales team has access to can help them optimize their workflow. Here are some must-have tools you should consider for your sales development reps.

1. folk

Best for: All-in-one CRM system

A Customer Relationship Management platform can help SDRs track interactions, manage leads, and streamline their workflow. Ideally, you want to find one that can support both your sales and marketing functions such as folk. folk allows your sales reps and marketing teams to collaborate from one source of truth giving both teams personalized access to your sales cycle, information on your buyer persona and an outbound lead generation list.

folk can support your sales teams as they generate leads
folk can also give you an overview of your sales cycle

Key features:

  • Contact and pipeline management: folk CRM provides a centralized place to store and manage all your contacts, making it easy for SDRs to keep track of leads and prospects.
  • Contact enrichment: folk automatically enriches contact information with social profiles, company details, and other relevant data, giving SDRs a comprehensive view of their leads.
  • Mail merge: Sales reps can sync Gmail and Outlook contacts, as well as contacts from other social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter into one platform.
  • Interaction tracking: Keeps a detailed record of all interactions with each contact, including emails, calls, meetings, and notes. This helps SDRs maintain context in ongoing conversations.

2. LinkedIn Sales Navigator

Best for: Reaching out to decision makers

LinkedIn Sales Navigator is a premium tool designed by LinkedIn specifically for sales professionals. It's useful for identifying and connecting with potential leads.

Key features:

  • Advanced search filters: Sales Navigator offers robust search capabilities with over 20+ advanced filters, allowing SDRs to pinpoint prospects based on criteria such as industry, company size, job title, seniority level, and geographic location.
  • InMail Messaging: Sales Navigator provides InMail credits, allowing SDRs to send direct messages to prospects outside their network. These messages tend to have higher response rates compared to regular email, facilitating better engagement with potential leads.
  • CRM integration: You can integrate LinkedIn Sales Navigator with folk in order to export search lists and more.

3. Trello

Best for: Project management

Trello helps SDRs organize their tasks, track progress, and collaborate with team members using visual boards and lists, enhancing productivity and project management.

Key features:

  • Project management: SDRs can organize tasks within cards, add due dates, attach files, and set priorities. This helps in managing outreach activities efficiently and ensures no follow-ups are missed.
  • Collaboration: Trello allows team members to have an overview of ongoing workflows so that teams can stay organized.


If you've been a solo sales manager for a while, SDRs are a great first addition to your team and can help with inbound and outbound lead generation and qualification. They also enable you to operate more efficiently and collaboratively creating a bridge between marketing and sales as they learn more about your ideal customer profile. Make sure you carve out budget to give your new sales reps access to the right tech stack they need to optimize their workflow. CRM software such as folk, project management tools such as Trello and LinkedIn Sales Navigator are all great options for a basic tech stack.

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