A Bearworks Series: Navigating Your Sales Career Journey

James Miller
March 19, 2024


Welcome to the Bearworks Series - your go-to guide for navigating the dynamic and rewarding landscape of sales careers. This blog series is designed to provide practical advice, real-life success stories, and a roadmap to help you make informed decisions about your career progression within the ever-evolving world of sales. 

In this blog post, we’re starting at the beginning, where many people start in sales: the sales development journey. As we embark on this exploration, we'll peel back the layers of the sales landscape, beginning with the foundational roles of Sales Development Representatives (SDRs) and Business Development Representatives (BDRs). These roles serve as the cornerstone for countless successful careers in sales, providing a unique vantage point where skills are honed, and paths to advancement become clear. 

By understanding the intricacies of the SDR/BDR journey, we lay the groundwork for a comprehensive understanding of the dynamic world of sales. 

Unlocking the Foundations

Terminology: SDR versus BDR

Let's start by learning the difference between Business Development Representatives (BDRs) and Sales Development Representatives (SDRs) based on their specific roles in lead management. These are the two entry level roles within sales, at the top of the infographic below. We’ve laid out the distinction between the two in a previous Bearworks blog post, but let’s walk through it again below. 

Bearworks | Sales Career Path

Since both roles are important for generating leads, it’s not uncommon to mix up their definitions. Even a quick Google search or asking your Sales Leader may lead to conflicting answers. This blog and others like Lusha's aim to differentiate the two more clearly, so you can decide which makes the most sense for you. 

The primary differentiator between these roles lies in their focus on lead acquisition and qualification. A Business Development Representative (BDR) specializes in prospecting outbound leads. Picture them as the initiators, actively seeking potential clients in the vast sea of the market. Their responsibilities include identifying and reaching out to individuals or businesses that may have an interest in the products or services offered by the company. BDRs are the frontline explorers, paving the way for the organization to expand its reach and connect with new opportunities. 

On the other hand, a Sales Development Representative (SDR) is tasked with the qualification of inbound leads. Once potential clients have shown interest, it's the SDR's role to assess and ensure that these leads align with the company's target audience and are genuinely interested in moving forward in the sales process. SDRs act as the gatekeepers, meticulously evaluating the quality of inbound leads and determining their readiness to progress further down the sales funnel.

While both BDRs and SDRs play vital roles in getting qualified prospects into the sales funnel, it's important to note that neither directly closes deals. Instead, they lay the groundwork for the sales team by delivering a stream of leads that have been thoroughly vetted and are more likely to convert into actual customers.

Consider a scenario where a BDR diligently identifies potential clients through proactive outreach efforts. They engage in cold calling, email campaigns, or other strategies to initiate conversations with prospects who may not have previously been aware of the company's offerings. On the flip side, an SDR reviews responses to marketing campaigns, website inquiries, or other inbound channels, ensuring that those expressing interest align with the company's ideal customer profile.

Day-to-Day Responsibilities and Tasks

The daily responsibilities and tasks of Sales Development Representatives (SDRs) and Business Development Representatives (BDRs) are the heartbeat of a vibrant and effective sales operation. Let's dive into the intricacies of their day-to-day roles, highlighting the crucial functions that shape the success of a sales funnel.

Prospecting and Lead Generation:

At the core of their duties, both SDRs and BDRs are entrusted with the critical task of prospecting and lead generation. This involves identifying potential clients or businesses that align with the company's target audience. Whether through market research, data analysis, or leveraging advanced prospecting tools, these professionals work tirelessly to uncover new opportunities and expand the organization's reach. 

Example: An SDR might leverage social media platforms like LinkedIn and industry databases like Zoom Info to identify individuals or businesses expressing relevant interests. Simultaneously, a BDR might engage in cold calling or email outreach campaigns to initiate contact with potential clients who may not be familiar with the company's offerings.

Tip: Follow fellow sales leaders on LinkedIn to gain inspiration and to level up your sales skills. This post by Global SDR Manager, Elric Legloire, lists 30+ people to follow to level up your prospecting game. 

Outreach Strategies and Communication Methods:

Effectively reaching out to prospects is an art that SDRs and BDRs master. Crafting personalized communication strategies tailored to the preferences of their audience, they initiate conversations that spark interest and lay the foundation for a potential business relationship.

Example: An SDR might use targeted email campaigns, engaging with leads who have shown interest through website forms or downloadable content. Conversely, a BDR might employ cold calling techniques, articulating the company's value proposition and gauging the receptiveness of prospects through direct communication.

Tip: Follow people like Mike W. for top tips on how to write sales emails that work. 

Building and Managing Pipelines:

Building and managing pipelines is a cornerstone skill for both SDRs and BDRs. They are responsible for orchestrating the flow of leads through various stages of the sales process. This involves categorizing leads based on their level of interest, ensuring timely follow-ups, and strategically advancing them through the sales funnel. Check out this post by HubSpot outlining pipeline strategies for reps and sales leaders. 

Here’s an example of what a pipeline might look like within HubSpot’s CRM.

In essence, the day-to-day responsibilities of SDRs and BDRs require a delicate balance of proactive outreach, strategic communication, and meticulous pipeline management. Their efforts collectively contribute to the development and sustenance of a robust sales ecosystem, ensuring a continuous influx of qualified leads and setting the stage for the ultimate success of the sales team.

Key Skills for Success

Achieving success in the roles of Sales Development Representatives (SDRs) and Business Development Representatives (BDRs) demands a finely tuned skill set, encompassing various facets critical to navigating the complexities of the sales landscape. Here's a closer look at the key skills that serve as the linchpin for triumph in these roles. 

Communication and Interpersonal Skills: 

Effective communication lies at the heart of the SDR/BDR journey. The ability to articulate ideas clearly, actively listen to clients' needs, and tailor messages to resonate with diverse audiences is paramount. Interpersonal finesse goes hand-in-hand, enabling SDRs and BDRs to establish genuine connections and build relationships that go above and beyond the transactional. highlights ways in which reps can structure their calls for success. Committing to a talktrack or format for every call helps reps prepare for and lead calls better as well as helps the prospect get the most value out of your time together. 

Research and Analytical Acumen:

In the world of sales, knowledge is power. SDRs and BDRs must be adept researchers, continuously seeking insights into market trends, competitor landscapes, and client behaviors. Analytical acumen allows them to interpret data, identify patterns, and make informed decisions that steer the sales process strategically. 

Stay up to date by reviewing what leaders in the space like HubSpot are sharing. For example, their annual report on the state of sales covers everything from top sales challenges to how AI will impact selling. Want to learn more? Check out the full report here

One specific report that stands out measured what sets high-performing salespeople apart. This highlights what the best of the best are spending their time on. An aspiring sales representative or leader could look to this for inspiration on where to spend their time.

HubSpot Sales Strategy Report

Persistence and Resilience:

The road to success in sales is often paved with challenges, rejections, and unexpected twists. Persistence and resilience are indispensable qualities that empower SDRs and BDRs to persevere in the face of setbacks. They understand that every 'no' brings them closer to a 'yes,' and setbacks are opportunities for growth. 

Sometimes, you as the rep may be the one to say ‘no’. Check out this Forbes article for scenarios in which the rep may be passing up on the prospect’s business. 


In the ever-evolving realm of customer needs and market dynamics, adaptability is a key differentiator. Successful SDRs and BDRs are agile professionals who can pivot their strategies, adjust to changing circumstances, and stay ahead of industry trends. Being receptive to change allows them to capitalize on emerging opportunities and navigate shifting landscapes effectively.

Why Get into Sales to Begin With

Opportunities and Benefits

Sales careers are synonymous with the potential for financial success. The allure of lucrative compensation structures, often driven by commission-based earnings and performance bonuses, makes the field appealing to individuals seeking tangible financial rewards. Indeed highlights how “positions that have unlimited commission opportunities allow for an impressive salary for top salespeople.” The more successful the sales professional, the more substantial the financial gains, creating a direct correlation between effort and income. 

Example: Imagine exceeding sales targets and witnessing an immediate impact on your paycheck through commission-based incentives, providing a tangible reflection of your hard work and success.

Here are a few examples of sales jobs with potential to make $100k+ per year. 

Diverse Industry Exposure and Networking Opportunities

Sales is a gateway to diverse industry exposure. Sales professionals engage with clients across various sectors, broadening their horizons and enriching their understanding of different business landscapes. Beyond industry exposure, the networking opportunities inherent in sales provide invaluable connections that extend far beyond individual transactions.

Bearworks New York Tech Week Networking Event

Example: Picture attending industry conferences, forging connections with professionals from different sectors, and building a network that not only enhances your current role but opens doors to potential collaborations and future opportunities.

Sales as a Dynamic and Evolving Field:

Sales is not a static profession; it thrives on dynamism and evolution. The Harvard Business Review shares that the constant evolution of sales strategies, consumer behavior, and technological advancements ensures that professionals remain engaged and challenged. Embracing change becomes a mantra for success, making the sales field a dynamic and ever-relevant domain. 

The latest sales evolution is the use of AI to improve efficiency. AI is used specifically for data generation and analysis, in order to better understand and generate higher-quality leads. 

Example: Envision adapting to emerging technologies, incorporating innovative sales approaches, and staying ahead of industry trends to maintain a competitive edge in the market.

Skill Enhancement and Continuous Learning:

The field of sales demands perpetual learning. Sales professionals must stay abreast of market trends, consumer preferences, and emerging technologies. Continuous learning is not only encouraged but is a vital component of staying competitive and relevant in a rapidly changing business landscape.

Example: Picture regularly engaging in training sessions, workshops, and self-directed learning opportunities to enhance your skill set, ensuring you remain at the forefront of industry knowledge.

Career Trajectory Within the Sales Domain: 

A career in sales is a journey marked by growth and progression. Starting as an SDR or BDR is often just the beginning, with ample opportunities for upward mobility. Success in entry-level roles sets the stage for advancement into managerial positions, strategic roles, and even executive leadership within the sales domain.

In this blog, we’ve covered the entry-level roles of SDR and BDR. See Bearworks’ Sales Career Trajectory for potential paths within sales: 

Example: Envisage a career trajectory that takes you from mastering the fundamentals as an SDR to leading a team, crafting sales strategies, and eventually shaping the overall direction of the sales function within a company.


In understanding the nuances of SDR vs. BDR roles, we hope to share the distinctive paths these professionals take in the dynamic world of sales. BDRs, the outbound trailblazers, carve paths through the market, initiating conversations and expanding the organizational reach. On the flip side, SDRs stand guard as gatekeepers, diligently qualifying inbound leads and ensuring they align with the company's objectives.

As we explored their day-to-day responsibilities, from prospecting and lead generation to crafting personalized outreach strategies and managing pipelines, the intricate dance between these roles became evident. SDRs and BDRs, with their delicate balance of proactive outreach and strategic communication, lay the groundwork for a robust sales ecosystem.

Success in these roles demands a multifaceted skill set—effective communication, research and analytical acumen, persistence, resilience, and adaptability. These qualities are the linchpin for triumph in navigating the complexities of the sales landscape.

Choosing a sales career opens doors to diverse opportunities and benefits. From lucrative compensation structures to intrinsic rewards of solving client needs, sales professionals embark on a journey of continuous learning and dynamic evolution. The field's dynamic nature, coupled with the potential for upward mobility, paints a promising career trajectory within the sales domain.

To those considering a sales career, embrace the challenges as opportunities for growth and relish the fulfillment of contributing to client success. As we continue the Bearworks Series, stay tuned for deeper insights, practical advice, and success stories that will guide you through the intricacies of the sales landscape. Your journey within the Bearworks Series is our commitment, and we're here to empower you every step of the way.

Q&A: SDR/BDR Career Path

Q: Does this career path require a specific college degree?

  • A: No, a college degree is not always mandatory for SDR/BDR roles. However, a bachelor's degree in business, marketing, communications, or a related field can be beneficial. Strong communication, analytical, and computer skills are often more important than a specific degree.

Q: What's a typical salary range for SDRs and BDRs?

  • A: The national average base salary for SDRs and BDRs can range from $40,000 to $70,000 per year. However, the total compensation can be significantly higher with commission structures and bonuses that reward achievement.

Q: Can you achieve a healthy work-life balance in these roles?

  • A: Work-life balance can vary depending on the company culture and specific role. SDR/BDR positions can sometimes involve long hours, especially when quota pressure is high. However, some companies offer flexible schedules or remote work options.

Q: What does a typical day look like for an SDR or BDR?

  • A: A typical day might involve prospecting for leads through calls, emails, or social media. Qualifying leads by researching their fit and interest. Crafting outreach messages to connect with potential customers. Updating a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system to track progress. Following up with leads and nurturing relationships. Participating in sales meetings and collaborating with the sales team.

Q: Can the skills learned in these roles be applied to other areas outside of sales entirely?

  • A: Absolutely! The skills developed as an SDR/BDR are highly transferable. Communication, research, data analysis, relationship building, and time management are valuable assets in marketing, customer success, account management, or even entrepreneurial ventures.

Q: How do companies measure the success of SDRs and BDRs?

  • A: Common metrics used to measure SDR/BDR success include: Number of dials made, emails sent, and meetings booked (activity metrics). Lead qualification rate (percentage of leads deemed qualified for sales). Sales accepted leads (SALs) - the number of qualified leads passed on to Account Executives. Quota attainment (meeting or exceeding targets for leads generated).

Q: Can introverts still be successful SDRs or BDRs?

  • A: Yes! While extroverts might seem like a natural fit, introverts can excel in these roles. Strengths in written communication, active listening, and building rapport through well-crafted emails can be just as effective.

Q: Can you give specific examples of the technology SDRs and BDRs use every day?

  • A: SDRs and BDRs utilize a variety of sales technology tools. Some common examples include: CRM software like Salesforce or HubSpot to manage leads and customer interactions. Sales engagement platforms like Outreach or Salesloft to automate tasks and personalize outreach. Social selling tools like LinkedIn Sales Navigator to identify and connect with potential customers. Marketing automation software like Marketo or Pardot to nurture leads with targeted email campaigns.

Q: How does the SDR/BDR role differ from the next step, Account Executive (AE)?

  • A: SDRs and BDRs focus on the top of the sales funnel, generating and qualifying leads. AEs take over qualified leads, nurturing relationships, negotiating deals, and ultimately closing sales. AEs typically require more experience and have a higher earning potential tied to closing deals.
Bearworks Parallel Dialer Software

Turn Calls into Deals
with Bearworks

Ready to get started? Book a demo:

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.