Sales Basics
  •   5 min read

Sales Development Representatives - Who Are They, What Do They Do, and More

Gautham Nagaraj

ByGautham Nagaraj

Published January 24, 2023

what is a sales development representative

Who is a sales development representative or an SDR? What is their role in the grand scheme of sales strategies? How do they impact revenue? What does their day look like? Let’s break down all things SDR sales in this article.

  1. What is a sales development representative?
  2. What is the role of a sales development representative?
  3. What qualities does a sales development representative need to have?
  4. How do you train a sales development representative?
  5. What tools does a sales development representative use?


1. What is a sales development representative?

Let’s start at the very beginning. A Sales Development Representative (SDR) is a type of salesperson who is responsible for identifying and qualifying potential customers for a company's products or services. They typically work in an outbound sales role, reaching out to potential customers through different channels of engagement - phone calls, emails, Text, LinkedIn or anything else in order to book as many meetings or demos as possible for the company's sales team. There’s a reason why SDR’s are so important. It’s because they are often the first point of contact for a potential customer and play a crucial role in taking the entire team - and the business - towards joint sales goals.


2. What is the role of a sales development representative?

Now that we’ve reiterated how important a Sales Development Representative is to the team, let’s deeper into their role. What does an SDR do everyday? What are they responsible for? 

So we know that sales development reps are responsible for finding prospective customers and generating interest in what your business has to offer. And they are often the first line of contact between you and your prospect -which means that they’re the first impression you get to make. 

A sales development representative’s responsibilities encompass things like conducting market research to identify qualified leads, reaching out to prospects to set up meetings between your account executives and decision makers, and collaborating with marketing teams to perform activities to expand your website traffic through various channels (including social media).


role of a sales development representative

So here’s what a day in the life of an SDR might look like -

  • Outreach to potential customers via cold calling, cold emailing, and social media
  • Qualifying leads by determining their fit for the company's products or services
  • Researching and building a target list of potential customers
  • Scheduling appointments and demos for the sales team
  • Tracking and reporting on their progress and performance
  • Collaborating with other members of the sales and marketing teams to improve their strategies and tactics

While the role of an SDR might predominantly lie in outbound sales and prospecting, some teams might also leverage SDRs in inbound sales. Over here, the role of an SDR is to contact qualified leads from marketing efforts and nurture them to the next stage of the sales funnel

The job of a sales development representative isn’t an easy one. SDRs have to go through a vast quantity of prospect data before they can narrow it down to a viable prospect list of ICPs. They then have to craft cold outreaches that actually get responses, and do enough of that to get a calendar full of meetings.

That brings us to the next question.


3. What qualities does a sales development representative need to have?

There are specific personality and skill based-traits that you need to keep in mind before hiring a sales development representative. But let’s look at some essential skills an SDR needs to possess in order to excel in their role. 

  • Product expertise - An SDR will need to have the ability to learn how your product operates, exactly what it accomplishes, all its features and how it differs from your competitors (in what it has and what it lacks). They will need to know the product with such depth that they’re able to help your prospects understand why it’d be the right fit to solve their pain points. 
  • Expert research skills - The first thing a sales development rep is likely to be involved in is building a strong prospect list. And that takes a ton of research. They’ll need to find contacts that are your ICP and then count on their research skills again to understand the pain points they’ll need to address and how that can be linked to your offering. 
  • Ability to hear the ‘nos’- We’ll keep saying this. Sales isn’t easy. A sales development rep is likely to hear no way more times than they are likely to hear a yes. And that can sting. While it takes getting used to for anyone, an SDR will have to cultivate the ability to not take the no personally or be discouraged by it.
  • Staying organized - You saw the list. An SDR has a lot to pack into one day. And a lot of their activities will be at different stages. They’ll need to have the ability to stay organized and on track of each of these activities in order to be able to follow through. 
  • Time-management skills - At the risk of sounding like a broken record, a sales rep has a lot to do and little time to do it in. Which means that they'll need to know how to manage their time, prioritize the right tasks (though having a sales engagement platform that offers intelligent automations does help.)
  • A knack for conversation - So much of sales is about striking a chord and creating the opportunity for conversation that leads to the desired action (i.e. the sale). And a lot of these conversations happen over cold outreaches. A sales development rep should have the ability to find even the shortest of openings to build an exchange and prompt an openness to conversation. 



4. How do you train a sales development rep?

How do you train a sales development rep

Sales reps are traditionally trained by demoing a tool for them and then leaving them to it. This does not work. The best way to accelerate your sales rep's learning curve is to give them a training roadmap that includes both classroom instruction and practice. 

  • Let your sales reps practice and make mistakes - You can't expect your SDRs to become experts overnight. They need to practice the skills they are learning, and there is no substitute for experience. Let your sales reps make mistakes and learn from them. This will help them improve their skills as well as provide valuable feedback for you as a manager (your job is to help your employees become better at what they do).
  • Observational training develops good habits - Observational training is the best way to learn. It's much easier to observe and then try it yourself than it is to try something out and have someone tell you how well or poorly you did it. It's also a skill that can be improved with practice, which makes observational training effective for developing good habits in sales development  reps.
  • Have a roadmap for your sales rep's training program - Your sales rep’s training program should have a roadmap for them to follow. Sales reps need to know what they are expected to achieve by the end of each training session and how their efforts will be evaluated, so it's important that you and your trainer have a clear understanding of this before starting any sessions. If your company has already provided tools for your sales reps (such as templates or checklists), then make sure those are used during training as well! Trainers will want access so they can answer questions as needed and provide additional guidance on how best use those resources during their workday.
  • Give them early access to tools - Sales reps need to know how their tools work right away; they also need guidance on how to use them effectively every day of the week (which means that if you're using Outplay as your sales engagement software, it's important that your reps get access early on).


5. What tools does a sales development representative use?

Sales reps use a variety of tools to help them prospect for new customers and close deals. These are what they use most commonly -

  • A database solution to find leads
  • A CRM to track them
  • Engagement tools for each engagement channel
  • Monitoring tools for leads to assess how they’re doing and if they need support

Outplay is an all-in-one sales engagement platform that helps your rep do all of this from a single platform (and saves you from paying multiple bills). With Outplay, your reps can -

Prospect - Get access to a database of millions, with a prospecting tool within your sales engagement platform. Reps can also capture  inbound leads from your website forms into Outplay, and move leads from Gmail and LinkedIn into sequences with a click with our Chrome Extension. 

Engage - With Outplay, your reps can build sales sequences with any combination of Email, Phone, SMS, LinkedIn, WhatsApp, Video, and Website chat. Outplay also helps guarantee that each prospect sees the right message on the right channel by automatically moving prospects into another sequence based on their actions. 

Track - Outplay goes beyond track clicks and opens. With Outplay, when a prospect visits your site, you’ll know which page they’re on and then be able to start a chat with them and engage proactively.