Why I Believe We Should Blow up the Business Development Rep (BDR) Role in Sales

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Mar 29, 2021 @ 07:03 AM

call-center

Did you ever notice how most supermarkets place the least capable cashiers in the Express Lane?  Drives me nuts!  The Market's perspective:  Small orders will be easier for them to handle.  My perspective:  Let's go!!!  They call it Express for a reason!  

Did you ever notice that companies that utilize the Business Development Rep (BDR) role put their youngest, most inexperienced new hires in that role?  The company's perspective: The top of the funnel is easier to handle than a full-blown quota and responsibility for an entire sales cycle.  My perspective:  Why put newbies in the role that is the most difficult of all selling roles?

For decades it was normal practice for Copy Machine, Office Supply, Cell Phones, Life Insurance and Residential Real Estate companies to recruit and train (a little classroom) rookie salespeople and then have them spend years making Cold Calls.  Industries like those continue to suffer from the highest voluntary turnover rates you can imagine and the practice is not entirely different from what tech companies are doing with the BDR Role.  

But why?  Whose brilliant idea was this?

The most difficult companies to prospect your way into become the easiest companies to sell to because when the prospects are saying "no" to inexperienced cold callers there is very little competition for those who are talented and effective enough to book meetings.  But are those young rookies the ones booking those tough meetings?  No. Chance. In. Hell.

Only the best salespeople are capable of getting through to top-level decision makers, getting them engaged on a first call and booking a meeting with those decision makers.  The best our young BDRs can hope for is a meeting with someone who hardly matters in the context of influence, authority and decision-making. 

The originators of this idea had good intentions.  Why waste an account executive's (AE) time making cold calls when someone else could do that and the AE could just handle the actual meetings.  It makes sense on paper but in the real-world it contributes to the sense that we have too much role specialization in sales, horrible conversion ratios and pretty bad win rates too.

While only 46% of all salespeople reach who they believe are actual decision makers, and only 13% actually reach decision makers, only 1% of salespeople with less than one year of sales experience reach actual decision makers.

I think we should blow up the entire BDR concept.  There are other ways for AE's to generate enough quality meetings to fill their pipelines, meet, and exceed quota and in a future article, I will share all of those methods.  In the meantime, it seems to me that the cost and inefficiencies related to having a team of BDRs struggling to book 1.5 meetings per week no longer makes sense.

Dave Brock wrote a great article about what happens when we put our most experienced salespeople in the BDR role.

What do you think?

Image copyright 123RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, cold calling, inside sales, scheduling sales appointments, top of the funnel, BDR

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader,  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog has earned medals for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for nine consecutive years. This article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016, this one earned a Silver medal for 2017, and this article earned Silver for 2018. Read more about Dave

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