How to Become a

How to Become a Business Development Representative: Skills, Requirements, and Career Guide

Reviewed By Product Expert and Coach
Elizabeth Hogue
April 16, 2024

Business Development Representatives (BDRs) play a critical role in driving revenue growth and expanding a company's customer base. If you're interested in sales, marketing, and customer relationship management, becoming a BDR may be the perfect career choice for you.

In this comprehensive career guide, we will explore the skills and requirements necessary to launch a successful career in business development, including the latest tools, technologies, and strategies used by top BDRs. We'll also provide valuable insights into career advancement opportunities and how to position yourself for success in this exciting and dynamic field. Whether you're just starting your career or looking to take your business development skills to the next level, this guide will provide valuable insights into this in-demand field.

don't change careers alone ad

What is a Project Manager?

A Business Development Representative (often called BDR for short) is an entry-level sales professional primarily responsible for drumming up new potential business opportunities for an organization. BDRs are typically at larger companies and play a major role in the earliest stages of the selling process, including things like sourcing customers, qualifying leads and setting appointments for account executives. They may also be responsible for conducting research on potential customers (often called a Partner Dossier) and industry trends to identify new opportunities.

BDRs are usually the very first point of contact for potential clients and play a critical role in relationship building. Think of a BDR like a technical sourcer– except instead of sourcing people to work for a company, they’re sourcing companies that could be target clients.

BDRs typically use a variety of tools and techniques to reach potential clients, including cold calls, icy emails (we just made that up), Linkedin and networking events.

If we had to distill the main goal of a BDR into a single point, it would be to assist in company growth, at any means necessary. Read on to learn more.

Responsibilities of a Project Manager

A typical day for a Business Development Representative (BDR) may involve a variety of tasks, including:


  • BDRs will identify potential customers by researching points of contact at target companies, an activity known as prospecting.
  • Sometimes BDRs will try to reach out to schedule meetings for account executives.

Qualifying Leads

  • BDRs will evaluate potential inbound leads to determine if the company reaching out is a good fit for their company’s products or services.
  • This may involve researching the company and industry, as well as facilitating initial conversations to determine whether the lead is a good fit.

Setting Appointments

  • BDRs will work to schedule appointments between qualified leads and the sales team.
  • Sometimes this requires creative ways of getting in touch with the person in charge of the process at a large company.

Collaborating with the Sales Team

  • BDRs will work with the sales team to understand the interests and needs of potential clients to help make pitches sharper.


  • BDRs report on their progress towards hitting quotas to sales leadership.
  • Popular quota goals may include leads generated, appointments set, and deals closed.

Following Up

  • BDRs will work to schedule appointments between qualified leads and the sales team.
  • Sometimes this requires creative ways of getting in touch with the person in charge of the process at a large company.

Staying Informed

  • BDRs will often need to stay up-to-date on their company's products, services, and general industry trends.
  • This helps them sound like an SME– subject matter expert– in their field to communicate smartly with potential clients.

Education Requirements

Do I need a degree to be a Business Development Representative??

Absolutely no degree required to be a successful BDR, but any sort of customer service experience really will go far in interviews. Some job listings will ask for a degree of any kind, but often that can be bypassed with relevant experience. Some people we've found do really well as BDRs:

  • Data entry and receptionist professionals
  • Teachers, and those who actively work with people
  • Restaurant managers, servers and retail employees
  • Communication and psychology academic-types

If you're new here to bridged, we're glad to meet you! We are huge fans of alternate forms of education, and recommend specific certifications to target skills. While this job works great with degrees, you have other options. Learn more here.

Our Favorite Business Development Representative Certifications

salesforce logo svg

Sales Development Representative Professional Certificate

Launch a career in tech sales with a Professional Certificate stamped by Salesforce. This cert teaches the fundamentals of the sales and how to attain a BDR's growth mindset, prospect leads, and streamline a BDR workflow.

Learn More

northwestern logo

The Art of Sales: Mastering the Selling Process Specialization

Northwestern sponsors this class to help you become a top-performing sales professional. Learn from the best with several practical strategies to add to your sales toolbelt.

Learn More

udemy logo

Mastering Business Development

This is a top Udemy seller, and teaches the each perspective of the business development funnel-- including tasks, prospecting, sales, and marketing. If you catch it on sale, it's less than $20, which makes it a great intro to the field.

Learn More

Salary and Career Potential

What is a BDR's salary?

This one is a little trickier to pin down, because BDR salaries have a huge range depending on the company and industry. Usually their base is between 30-50k, and there are hefty commissions on every deal made. The idea is, a BDR will made significantly more on their commission than salary. A typical pay structure for a BDR:

  • Base salary + commission: BDRs often receive a base salary, plus additional compensation based on their sales performance.
  • Tiered commission: Commission is often structured as tiered, meaning that the more they sell, the higher the commission rate becomes.
  • Performance-based bonuses: Incentives and bonuses may also be offered for hitting specific sales goals or milestones.

Career Path of a Business Development Representative

This is heavily company-dependent, unlike some of the other careers we write guides for. This was the most common path we could spot, along with the years of experience usually at each level.

  • BDR: Spend about 2-4 years at each level here.
  • Account Executive: Spend about 3-5 years here.
  • Team Lead / Sales Manager: Spend about 5-10 years here.
  • Director of Sales: This one can vary company to company, but most folks spend roughly 4-6 years here.

Job Requirements and Skills

Popular Job Description of a BDR

We've used AI to aggregate the top job descriptions used by hiring managers looking for project managers. When putting your resume together, try to mimic these listings. To learn more about this process, check out our partner Jobscan for a comprehensive resume review.

  • Research and identify potential clients and partners through various channels, including social media, industry events, and online directories.
  • Reach out to potential clients and partners via email, phone, or other communication channels to introduce our company and services.
  • Qualify leads and set up appointments for the sales team to follow up with potential clients and partners.
  • Conduct market research to identify trends and opportunities in the industry.
  • Collaborate with the marketing team to develop targeted campaigns and messaging to attract new business.
  • Keep accurate records of all communications and interactions with prospects in our customer relationship management (CRM) system.

Top Skills of a BDR

We use AI to compile thousands of job descriptions for BDRs to record the most common requirements to save you time. While preparing for interviews, keep in mind specific times you've demonstrated these skills.

  • Identify and qualify new business opportunities by reaching out to potential customers via phone, email, and social media.
  • Conduct research on potential customers and industry trends to identify new opportunities for growth.
  • Build and maintain relationships with potential customers, in order to generate leads and set appointments for the sales team.
  • Work closely with the sales team to help them understand the needs and interests of potential customers.
  • Consistently meet or exceed lead generation and appointment setting quotas.
  • Report on progress and results to managers and sales teams, including keeping track of leads, appointments, and sales.
  • Stay informed about the company's products, services, and industry trends in order to effectively communicate with potential customers.
  • Collaborate with cross-functional teams to support sales efforts and contribute to the overall success of the company.
  • Continuously improve lead generation tactics and strategies based on performance metrics and feedback.
  • Utilize sales enablement tools and CRM to manage leads, track activities and progress.

Top Tools of a BDR

We've also compiled the most common tools listed in job description. If you're serious about becoming a BDR get familiar with these and be ready to talk about them.

For Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

  • Salesforce
  • Pipedrive
  • Hubspot CRM
  • Zoho CRM

For Email Outreach

  • Outreach
  • Yesware
  • ToutApp

For Lead Generation

  • Leadpages
  • Marketo Engage
  • Zoominfo
  • Clearbit

For Marketing Automation

  • Pardot
  • Marketo
  • Hubspot

Key Traits of a Successful BDR

Communication - BDRs need to be able to quickly grab the attention of potential clients and engage them in conversation. This requires not only excellent written and verbal communication skills, but also the ability to adapt their communication style to the individual they are talking to. BDRs should also be active listeners, paying attention to the needs and pain points of their prospects.
Organization - BDRs need to be able to juggle multiple tasks and outreach strategies at once, while keeping track of all their communications and interactions with prospects. This requires strong organizational skills, attention to detail, and the ability to prioritize tasks effectively. BDRs should also be comfortable using various sales and marketing tools to streamline their workflow.
Resilience - Rejection is an inevitable part of the BDR job, but the best BDRs don't let it get them down. They are able to bounce back quickly and stay motivated even after receiving hundreds, if not thousands, of rejections. Resilience is a key trait for success in this role, as it helps BDRs stay focused on their goals and maintain a positive attitude even in the face of adversity.
Strategic Thinking - BDRs need to be able to think strategically about how to best approach potential clients and partners, based on their company's strengths and their clients' weaknesses. This requires a deep understanding of the industry and the competitive landscape, as well as the ability to analyze data and draw insights from it. BDRs should also be able to adjust their strategies as needed based on feedback and results.
Self-Motivated - While some BDR roles may offer commission-based incentives, the best BDRs are driven by an internal desire to succeed. They are able to work hard with very little supervision and stay focused on their goals even when faced with distractions or setbacks. This self-motivation is what allows top-performing BDRs to consistently exceed their targets and achieve great success in the role.
Adaptability & Empathy- BDRs need to be able to adapt their outreach and pitches to individual clients, tailoring their messaging to the needs and pain points of each prospect. This requires strong empathy and the ability to put themselves in the shoes of their clients. BDRs should also be comfortable working with people from diverse backgrounds and cultures, and be able to adjust their communication style accordingly. Overall, BDRs who are adaptable and empathetic are better able to build strong relationships with prospects and close more deals.

Get BDR Experience

Difference Between BDRs and Other Sales Professionals

BDRs and Account Executives (AEs) are both sales roles, but focus on different parts of the sales funnel. Often times, BDRs are promoted into AEs after they achieve their quotas for a set amount of time.

Now back to the differences: think of a sales process as a giant relay race. Business Development Representatives (BDRs) are crucial members of the sales team because they’re the ones to kick off the running.

BDRs typically work in the very beginning stages of the sales process, identifying and qualifying leads, and setting appointments for other members to pursue. They are often the first point of contact between a company and its potential customers, and they play a critical role in first impression building.

Second up in the relay race are the account executives. These are the people actually responsible for closing deals with clients and “generating” the revenue. They follow up on leads that have been qualified by BDRs and work to turn those leads into paying customers. They will typically have a more in-depth knowledge of the company's products or services, and often stay in contact with the client even after the deal has been closed to help solve problems and pursue upsells.

Account executives are almost always paid on a commission structure based on size and number of deals closed since they're directly related. BDRs are a little fuzzier, so their pay structure is often company-dependent. AEs have the ability to be some of the highest paid tech professionals if they know how to work their sales system effectively.

Creativity as a BDR

We wanted to give a personal anecdote about working with a stellar BDR.

BDRs use all kinds of tactics to get the attention of prospects at target companies. Sometimes this means cold calling, sometimes it means throwing events (virtual cocktail parties, etc), and sometimes it means blast-emailing on Linkedin.

To keep this high level, many moons ago we received a single airpod at our (then) office. The note on the airpod said, "Give me a call to get your second airpod." WHAT!! This was a big-budget company, as many services industries are, but we thought that was a stunningly creative way to get prospects to call back and engage. You're welcome for the tip!

Get Started with a Bridged Recommendation

Northwestern University Presents
2-3 months

Review: Northwestern Art of Sales Specialization

This course is taught by our reviewer's all-time favorite professors, and is a great sales-introduction for any field.
Read Full Guide


Key takeaway: becoming a business development representative is a great entry-level way for highly motivated and resilient individuals to break into tech, and make a lot of money in the process. If you're driven, communicative and friendly we recommend giving the BDR field a try!

Here at Bridged we are huge fans of stacking micro-certifications to achieve desired career results. We're building a product to make your career planning fun and affordable, and we'd love to talk to YOU! Was this article helpful? Did you land an interview for a product manager role?

Let us know at

Check out our sources!

Glassdoor Team. “Salary: Business Development Representative (February, 2023) | Glassdoor.” Glassdoor, 1 Feb. 2023.

Elizabeth Hogue
Bridged's co-founder Elizabeth is wildly passionate about reading books, writing (bad) short stories, and helping her friends find new jobs.


explore careers

Find information on career paths for high-paying roles that align with your strengths and goals. Try our easy quiz to help you get started.

Help Me Pick
target skill gaps

View the skills you need to learn and develop with our state-of-the-art gap identifier. This is your next stop once you've found a role!

Get Tracking
review certifications

Learn about affordable and reputable certifications that won't break your bank. No expensive bootcamps or schooling required.

Review Certs
identify dream roles

We've vetted jobs at top companies that need talent! Easily match with companies that work with your job preferences.

Explore Roles
unlock remote work

What is Bridged?

No matter where you come from, we believe you have skills that can transfer to a high-paying job. We're here to help you identify them.

Bridged is a career content platform here to help you discover new job pathways and identify the skills you already have and need to level up to achieve your dream career.

Try the tracker


explore careers

Find information on career paths for high-paying roles that align with your strengths and goals. Try our easy quiz to help you get started.

Help Me Pick
target skill gaps

View the skills you need to learn and develop with our state-of-the-art gap identifier. This is your next stop once you've found a role!

Get Tracking
review certifications

Learn about affordable and reputable certifications that won't break your bank. No expensive bootcamps or schooling required.

Review Certs
identify dream roles

We've vetted jobs at top companies that need talent! Easily match with companies that work with your job preferences.

Explore Roles

your ultimate
career platform

It’s almost impossible to get jobs without experience, and experience is impossible to get without a job.

We're working to change that.

Thank you! We'll be in touch soon!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Try entering your email again.