The 5 core skills every BDR needs

Business Development Representatives (BDR) are crucial for driving growth and increasing conversion rates. Their main function is to build the business side of an organization, and they do this through identifying new business opportunities and promoting growth, so it is no surprise that good BDRs are always in high demand as they often form the cornerstone of any organization that is growing at scale.

What exactly do BDRs do on a day-to-day basis? The methods and processes will differ from company to company, but most BDRs share a common thread of identifying, creating and cultivating new business opportunities. This role focuses on long-term methods and increasing the value of business relationships. And similar to sales, BDRs will be expected to hit targets and KPIs, and work in fast-paced settings.

Common BDR tasks include:

  • Developing strategies and business plans to generate growth
  • Cold calling leads
  • Prospecting leads in target markets
  • Nurturing cold leads and moving them through the sales funnel
  • Conducting marketing research
  • Implementing initiatives to target new markets
  • Researching prospective leads and markets Evaluating current performance and implement strategies to improve

As you might expect, BDRs have a lot on their plate and it’s difficult to understand exactly what makes a successful BDR, as they need a variety of different hard and soft skills, knowledge, and hands-on experience to excel in the role. And more often than not, BDRs are masters of non-traditional skills which can be harder to spot, such as creativity and rapport-building.

Learn more about hiring talent

Report: Sales development: talent, training and retention

In this article, we dive into key skills, characteristics and traits that you should look for when trying to build a team of motivated, enthusiastic and skilled BDRs that can step up to the plate for your organization.

Market researcher, lead prospector and data-scraper

Research shows that generating high-quality leads is a priority goal for 79% of marketers worldwide. For companies growing at scale, the capability to expand beyond the horizons and discover new business opportunities is vital. This is an area that BDRs should excel in. Whether that entails developing sales and marketing strategies to leverage untapped markets, using LinkedIn Sales Navigator to find high-quality leads, or ensuring that your lead database is up to date with actionable data, a good BDR should always strive to put new opportunities in your lap.

This requires a keen understanding of the market you operate in, what makes a strong lead, and what makes those leads tick. This knowledge will keep you ahead of the competition and can form the basis of marketing, sales and business strategies.


How? Simply put, if BDRs have their finger on the pulse of leads, the better you can create personalized and consistent sales journeys at every touchpoint and on every channel. A lead that feels like their business pain points are understood, and is offered appropriate solutions to those pain points will be more receptive to outreach strategies.

A BDR with great research skills and a drive to find leads that match your buyer persona, will be invaluable to your sales team. BDRs should go above and beyond, and not just rely on leads generated from marketing efforts. Whether that is through LinkedIn Sales Navigator, social media or ZoomInfo, it’s vital that BDRs know how to find leads that are more likely to make a sale.

Learn more: Overcoming challenges to hiring strong sales development representatives

Communication, active-listening and relationship building

BDRs spend a lot of time engaging with leads, customers, and prospects. They are often the face of your company, and need to represent your organization’s values, unique selling points and more. In fact, studies show that 80% of companies report seeing an uplift after implementing a personalized buyer experience..

An ability to connect with leads is vital. This extends to skills that often fly under the radar for BDRs such as copywriting. BDRs spend a lot of time engaging leads through email and LinkedIn, and the great BDRs will adapt the tone of their messaging to what the lead will connect with. This is a skill that can help in countless ways, from email outreach to LinkedIn personal messages, and landing page copy.

It’s vital that BDRs can adapt the content of their communications to the lead, based on their position of the lead in the sales funnel, industry, upcoming events, time of year, lead persona and more. It is difficult to coach BDRs to develop an eye for personalisation and understanding how each individual leads ticks, so this skill is one to look out for.

Communication skills go hand in hand with actively listening and relationship building. Active listening is important for BDRs as they spend a lot of their day-to-day cold calling, having to make an impression in a brief span of time, while ensuring the lead is doing most of the talking. This is easier said than done.

When this happens, a good BDR will be able to actively listen and take stock of fine details that indicate if the lead will make a purchase or not. This also requires empathy, and emotional intelligence, and the ability to understand, on a personal level, what business challenges prospects are facing, and how they might respond to nurturing techniques.

BDRs must be attuned to subtle clues that leads might drop, such as business challenges, technology issues, funding, company decision makers and important calendar dates. When BDRs get this right, and prospects feel like their pain points are understood, a stronger relation is the outcome.

Learn more: Sales development and tech-assisted selling

Creativeness, curiosity and motivation

95% of B2B buyers regard content as a trustworthy marker when evaluating a business.

BDRs need to have a creative edge to implement unique strategies that help put your organization in the spotlight for leads that are making a purchasing decision. Every single day, prospects receive many LinkedIn messages, emails, cold calls, webinar invitations, event invitations, blogs and a lot more. A BDR that can help you stand out from the crowd is worth their weight in gold.

Creativity often goes beyond personalization, which is what leads expect. BDRs should use all the resources they have to create more interesting methods of gaining a lead’s attention. For example, virtual summits, online courses, social media listening, and speaking at industry events, there are a lot of creative methods out there that will help generate and nurture leads, and your BDRs should be eager to jump on them.

When leads see engagement attempts that differ from the norm, they take notice. For example, video prospecting gained in popularity because it takes the fundamentals of email and phone call prospecting, but transforms it into a more engaging and personalized video format. A BDR who can confidently speak to the camera, introduce the organization and products, and also drop a line specifically aimed at the lead, will go a long way toward gaining a follow up call.

Overall, great BDRs have their ear to the ground with creative methods of engaging leads. They should be innately curious about what the next trend is, new markets and buyer personas, and have an eagerness to attend trade shows and industry events. Every opportunity is a learning opportunity.

Drive, coachability and organization

BDRs often have a difficult and exhausting job compared to their peers, especially from an objectives standpoint. If we consider that marketing is focused on generating leads, and sales on closing leads, BDRs don’t quite have the same tangible end goal. And because of this, they rarely get the glory despite the role being pivotal to the success of an organization.

As a result, it pays in spades to have a BDR who is driven, coachable and organized. While these skills are soft skills rather than hard skills, they are just as important.

When we consider that up to 80% of prospecting and sales calls go to Voicemail, and 80% of leads say “no” up to four times before they say “yes”, you can imagine why this role requires a high drive and positivity. A BDR who can pick themselves up after a discouraging week and maintain high energy and enthusiasm will increase their chances of a bounce back. Likewise, a BDR who doesn’t allow the frustration of one bad call or email to affect their next engagement opportunity is vital for an aspiring BDR. To take this one step further, a BDR who seeks to improve upon each mistake, rather than pretend it never happened, will reduce the likelihood of mistakes happening.

While BDRs should have confidence, they should never shy away from coaching. There is always more to learn, no matter how many years someone has been in the job, regardless of experience, industry or job type. Whether through listening to their own calls with line managers, or asking their peers for feedback, it’s a must to ensure your BDR candidates are always seeking self-improvement. This takes organization, an awareness of strengths and weakness, and a drive to learn more about lead engagement skills. Not only will these soft skills help BDRs take on feedback, but these skills often paint the portrait of a BDR that will improve year on year, which can be invaluable.

Report: How European technology firms view challenges and opportunities and plan to accelerate expansion

Business intelligence, tech savviness and team player

In a 2020 study, 54% of businesses agreed that business intelligence platforms were vital to their current and future projects.

Every day, BDRs will face new scenarios, prospects, market conditions, industries, and business challenges. Because of this, business intelligence, tech savviness and desire to seek help from the team are vital for success. Understanding the business, products, your organization’s place in the market, your competitors and more will provide leverage to improve and stay ahead of the game.

BDRs need to utilize sales data, lead data and market data to find new business opportunities. This requires a high level of commercial and business sense to understand what opportunities and projects will be most valuable to the organization. Whether that is targeting a new market, developing a new buyer persona, or deploying a new lead nurturing program.

It is also important that BDRs know that business development is not a solo act. New ideas will often have to be pitched to senior stakeholders, as well as team members. Suffice it to say, for BDRs to make an impression on the strategic level, they need to obtain support from a variety of departments to implement money making projects.

From marketing, to sales, and sales development, BDRs have a lot of faces to convince. Because of this, it is vital to have good team building skills and an ability to gain stakeholder buy in. BDRs should be able to identify all stakeholders, engage with their needs and requirements, and measure and track progress of the project so all stakeholders feel validated.

To round this set of skills off, BDRs need to be skilled with the tools of the trade. Customer relationship management, B2B prospecting, lead generation, lead scoring and qualification, lead tracking, communication and many more, are all conducted through technology solutions. BDRs need to strive for perfection when using these tools and need to know what hidden features and capabilities are available. A BDR that regularly attends vendor training sessions, or even conducts their own research via online guides on YouTube tutorials will ensure their technology skills are up to scratch.

Report: Technology for sales development: a guide for decision-makers

Working with Foundry Sales Development Services

BDRs need a diverse set of hard and soft skills to make a strong impression in your organization. But, it’s challenging to find, hire and retain skillful BDRs. Talented BDRs with years of experience will be on the search for their next role, typically in sales, and won’t consider a lateral move. Meanwhile, BDRs new to the role will often be fresh out of university, with limited experience. This often means that hiring managers will hire BDRs based on personality, rather than experience.

This is especially frustrating for growing organizations that need to scale at a pace that cannot hire and keep a consistent business development team to improve the health and value of sales pipelines.

Outsourcing is a great utility for organizations that don’t have the resources, management experience, time or expertise, to staff, and retain and train an in-house business development team. Outsourcing can be the answer, as it provides access to skills, people, technology and expertise in a comparatively small cost package when compared to an in-house team.

Foundry SDS are lead nurturing experts. We will create a bespoke lead nurturing program to deliver high-quality leads that fit the buyer persona of your business development strategy.

Outsourcing lead nurturing and business development will take care of all the lead nurturing challenges and costs with a single package. And you gain the expertise and speed of the company that specializes in business development.

Learn more about our services here.

What’s next? Report: Sales development: talent, training and retention

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