The importance of having a well versed Sales Development Rep / Business Development Rep has never been more clear than now.

In 2021 having a representative to head your sales and business development out reach is vital to your company’s success. Without a proper outreach strategy you will struggle to bring in new business and new accounts. This is where having a knowledgeable and skilled Sales Development Rep / Business Development Rep comes into play.

These are the 10 Skills Every Sales Development Rep / Business Development Rep (SDR/BDR) Needs in 2021.

In this article we’ll take a a look at some these most important aspects of sales & business development and how you can implement these within your outreach teams.

There are many factors that can determine the success of a company’s outreach strategy. Having a knowledgeable and skilled Sales Development Rep / Business Development Rep makes that success easier to obtain.

I hope this article can serve as a guide to help you get started with the 10 Skills Every Sales Development Rep / Business Development Rep (SDR/BDR) Needs in 2021

With a good foundation to start off of you can build off of this list and grow and expand your company’s current outreach strategy.

This is a list of the top 10 Skills Every Sales Development Rep / Business Development Rep (SDR/BDR) Needs in 2021. I came up with this list on the fly in less than 5 minutes. If you feel that I have missed something go ahead and leave some feedback in the comments below.

1. market research

As companies become more and more competitive the skillset of a sales development representative/business development representative must expand from basic outreach to being able to develop a comprehensive sales strategy from the ground up.

The first place you, as a Sales Development Rep / Business Development Rep should start, is with market research.

Being the on the frontlines of your company’s outreach strategy it has never been more important to know your target market in depth by gathering information about your target buyers’ needs and preferences.

As a Sales Development Rep / Business Development Rep having an edge in market research puts you ahead of the competition. It is a very important component of business strategy and a major factor in maintaining competitiveness.

Knowing your audience means knowing how to better personalize and segment your outreach strategy. This is a big advantage over your average Sales Development Rep / Business Development Rep who is most likely doing only basic outreach functions totally overlooking the importance of performing proper market research first.

This will allow you to better build out your outreach strategies through multiple channels and multiple touchpoints. You will put yourself in a position to target more qualified leads and in turn raise your conversion rate. This not only increases your bottom line but saves you time as well.

2. prospecting & Data Scraping

One the first functions that one must be well versed in when building out a sales campaign from scratch is prospecting and data scraping.

Rather you use a CRM or a spreadsheet finding prospects that fit your product or service as well as their direct contact information is the most important starting point for any outreach campaign.

Think of prospecting and data scraping as the foundation of your house. Without a strong foundation you can’t build a big luxurious house. The same goes for your sales outreach campaigns.

You must first do your due diligence in prospecting. What good is a list of prospects if the contact information is incorrect or your prospects don’t match what you are trying to deliver.

The objective of sales prospecting is so that you, as a Sales Development Rep / Business Development Rep, have correct and updated information when performing your initial outreach. You want to be able to get in touch with a decision maker as quickly as possible and prospecting correctly makes that part of the process so much easier.

3. lead generation & Appointment Setting

Now we get to the outreach itself which all starts with generating leads. Rather you are setting appointments for a sales closer to closed down and convert or you are  handing off a hot lead to an account manager it all starts with lead generation and appointment setting.

There are multiple ways to go about this and there many different approaches and strategies one can take when performing lead generation. Here is an article in which I take much deeper dive into the ins and outs of lead generation. You can read it here.

There many different channels and touchpoints you can and should use when trying to generate leads for your purposes.

These can channels can range from your typical cold calling to emailing or social media and much more.

The main idea here is that you are taking a prospect who has either no knowledge or limited knowledge of your product and/or service and creating awareness and building some interest.

You want to be able to move these leads down your pipeline and into the hands of your sales closers or account managers. An informed lead with some general interest is much easier for your sales team to close and convert than a totally cold lead that has never been approached from anyone from your company. This is why appointment setting is so vital.

Again, this is the initial step of actually performing your outreach and it is highly recommended that you utilize more than one channel.

Now each strategy will ultimately be determined by your product and your target market so keep that in mind. You want to be where your potential customers are.

4. calling skills

This should be on the first skills that a Sales Development Rep / Business Development Rep learns. Personally, I and many other successful sales executives, have built our careers off of cold calling.

The thing that makes calling, specifically cold calling, much easier as a Sales Development Rep / Business Development Rep is that you yourself are not trying to close a sale on your first call. You are just trying to get your lead to agree to take a meeting with your closer.

Typically these calls are short and are use to create awareness, build interest, ask questions, and determine that the lead is a good fit for your product or service.

You shouldn’t read a script as it can make you sound robotic and inauthentic. However, when first starting out you should have some kind of guide or call outline until you are able to get the flow of the call down.

I highly recommend watching some Grant Cardone or Jordan Belfort videos as the provide some great insights and tips on how to perform a great cold call and on how to set appointments that stick.

If you have the extra money to spend I would say Cardone University or Jordan Belfort’s Straight Line System are well worth the investment. Those course can greatly enhance your ability on the phones and the stronger your ability the more confident you will feel.

I would also suggest getting some kind of phone system and not dialing off of your personal phone for a couple reasons. One, you can get a local line if you are reaching out to companies not in your geographical area which is often the case. Two, you are probably not going to want leads and potential customers blowing up your personal cellphone.

5. email outreach

This a skill that anyone who wants to be a successful SDR/BDR needs to learn and master. Pairing great calling ability with knowledge on email outreach will make you that much more effective as a SDR/BDR.

There are multiple ways to go about email outreach. There is the cold email blast, opt-ins, and email follow ups.

However you choose to implement your email outreach you should know how to craft an eye-popping headline, attention grabbing content, and a CTA that gets your leads to take action.

Email outreach can also provide a great jumping off point for your calls too. For example you can lead into your call with “Hi (Lead’s Name), this is Lance from XYZ company. I actually sent over an email a few days ago, just checking to see if you had a chance to check it out and wanted to get your thoughts on it.” It is also a great way to follow up an initial call.

In any event email outreach is a very important skill that any SDR/BDR needs in 2021 in order to stay competitive. For more information on this I’ve written an in depth post about email marketing which can be found here.

Also if setting up a CRM specifically for email automation and segmentation I highly recommend you checkout the following:

There are others such as MailChimp and ConstantContact. However, in my experience the 3 listed above provide the best value for email outreach purposes.

6. linkedin expertise

I mentioned social media above and for a more in depth look at performing outreach across different social media platforms you can read a comprehensive article I put together here.

Now that article is geared more towards marketing for bloggers but there are a lot of principles and strategies that can be incorporated into your outreach strategy.

The main social media channel you need to get to know as a SDR/BDR is LinkedIn and Sales Navigator. This is another great channel for finding your target audience and sending personalized segmented messages.

I have incorporated LinkedIn and specifically Sales Navigator into many outreach strategies in the past with great success. Sometimes you will find this is one of the best ways to get in touch with decision makers depending on who your target audience is.

Sales Navigator has a few different monthly subscription plans geared towards individuals and teams but is well worth the investment.

There are also several training courses provided on Sales Navigator so even if you aren’t too knowledgeable in LinkedIn and Sales Navigator you can be within a few hours.

Being an expert in LinkedIn is just another way to give yourself a big advantage as a SDR/BDR. It is an important channel that should be implemented in your outreach strategies.

7. crm certifications

Knowing the ins and outs of different CRMs as a SDR/BDR is imperative. Although you could potential start with a spreadsheet through Google or Excel, at some point you need to learn how to operate a CRM.

So, what is a CRM? A CRM is a technology for managing all your company’s relationships and interactions with customers and potential customers. A couple of the most known CRMs being Salesforce, mostly geared towards large enterprises and HubSpot which mostly geared towards startups and smaller sized businesses.

Outside of the major CRMs there are options to choose to from. Some of these being multipurpose CRMs for storing contacts, logging calls, and creating email segments and some are built for a more specific purpose like email marketing.

When it comes to email marketing our favorites include:

Whichever route you choose to go with when it comes to CRMs there is no debate that this technology is a must have  for any modern outreach strategy. The good news is it is every easy to get the training and information you need for free online.

A couple of great examples of some free CRM courses include HubSpot Academy and Salesforce Trailhead. It is a good idea to spend some time learning the ins and outs the 2 biggest CRMs out there right now and a certification or two doesn’t hurt.

8. closing ability

Although your main focus as a SDR/BDR may be to generate leads and set appointments for your sales team the ability to close sales on your own just adds that much more value to your skillset as a SDR/BDR.

In my experience if you are a SDR/BDR but also possess the ability to close this leads to bigger opportunities, raises, higher commissions, and bonuses. Being able to execute a sales campaign from the very start all the way through the close makes you a very valuable asset to many companies.

This helps increase your bottom line and your value while at the same time allowing your client or employer to cut down on operating costs by allowing one person to take on more of the overall sales strategy.

If you are well educated on your product then selling shouldn’t be too difficult for you.

A this point it is assumed that you’ve already done the hard legwork like cold calling, generating interest, and setting appointments. Why would you not want to profit off of that by executing the most glamorous part of the process by asking for the sale?

If you want to learn how to be an excellent closer rather its over the phone or in person I highly recommend two of my favorite salespeople Grant Cardone and Jordan Belfort. Grant Cardone has Cardone University while Jordan Belfort has his Straight Line system. In my  opinion both are incredibly effective.

9. lead nurturing

Lead nurturing is the process of developing and reinforcing relationships with buyers at every stage of the sales funnel.

A successful lead nurturing program focuses marketing and communication efforts on listening to the needs of prospects and providing the information and answers they need to build trust, increase brand awareness, and maintain a connection until prospects are ready to make a purchase. That’s why it’s crucial to nurture relationships with buyers through a strategic lead scoring system.

Additionally, lengthening sales funnels fosters independence within prospects, creating a greater need for well-crafted lead nurturing programs.

Marketing automation platforms like CRMs can allow marketing teams to develop flexible, adaptive communications at scale by forming a lead nurturing strategy.

In doing this, you create a pathway through which you not only create relationships with potential customers, but also maintain those relationships while the prospect moves through the buyer’s journey at their own pace.

10. great customer service

Finally, the last aspect of a great SDR/BDR that can separate you from your competition is delivering great customer service and a great overall customer experience.

Being able to build and execute a comprehensive sales strategy from the ground up while being able to close adds incredible value to your skillset. Providing exceptional customer service gives you even more of an edge.

Although this skill may usually be more closely associated with account managers and less so with SDR/BDR roles the ability to do this makes you an even more valuable asset.

Providing exceptional customer service doesn’t mean only providing customer service up to the point of the sale. It also means following up with your customers and ensuring that everything is running smoothly with your product or service.

Having all these skills and putting it all together will make you stand out above your competition when it comes being a great Sales Development Rep / Business Development Rep.

You may not use all of these different skillsets for a single campaign but the ability to do so makes you stand out and gives you the ability to perform multiple functions for your client/employer.


10 Skills Every Sales Development Rep / Business Development Rep (SDR/BDR) Needs in 2021

– Lance Ulin

Let’s CEO

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