With the number of businesses in unique industries, how is it possible to generate new business leads and stand out among a sea of competitors? By integrating business development representatives (BDRs) and sales development representatives (SDRs) into your B2B sales strategy, you increase the opportunity to develop new partnerships and enhance your relationships with current customers.

But wait—aren’t BDRs and SDRs the same thing? In short, no, they are not the same even though the terms are commonly used interchangeably. While they may have some integrating responsibilities, BDRs and SDRs have different, yet equally important, responsibilities in the grand scheme of your B2B lead generation strategy. 


Before we get into the specifics of how sales and business development work, it’s essential to learn where they came from in the first place. While sales has been around for ages, it wasn’t introduced into the business world as a streamlined process or structure until the 19th century. Let’s dive in:

1870: Streamlining a Business Development and Sales Structure

In 1752, Benjamin Franklin founded an insurance company that primarily focused on household, prescription-based products. The role of a sales rep with this business was to close business deals and attend routine household visits to collect payments. 

However, a big downfall of this structure was that once a sales rep became too successful, they had no additional time to prospect new business opportunities because they spent all of their time collecting customer payments. The insurance industry decided to solve this problem by developing role specialization. They created account manager and account executive roles to collect fees, nurture relationships with current customers, and generate new business opportunities.

After this new business development and sales structure was implemented, insurance businesses saw an immediate increase in customer satisfaction and incoming revenue. Shortly after implementing this structure into the insurance industry, it expanded to companies in other industries—this role specialization was one of the first and most significant advances in professional selling.

1924: Professional Selling

Between 1849 and 1882, 180,000 Chinese immigrants came to the United States to help build the intercontinental railroad. As more Chinese workers came to the U.S., so did a product called snake oil. Snake oil was aggressively sold by doctors and salespeople as a “magic health remedy” when it had no impact on an individual’s health. 

The sales profession became a deceiving, unethical profession because of people’s negative experiences with snake oil salespeople. However, during the early 1900s, a salesman named Thomas J. Watson Sr. strived to eliminate this stigma with his new company, International Business Machines.

When it came to sales, Watson had the following insights:

  • As business competition increases, so does sales competition
  • The more trained and educated a salesperson is, the more sustainable a business’s sales efforts are

Throughout Watson’s career, he prioritized eliminating the stigma of the sales profession by implementing sales training programs, motivating salespeople through contests and commission structures, and recruiting the best salespeople straight out of college.

Thanks to Watson’s efforts paired with national regulations, the sales profession started to become a well-earning, respectable career.

1925: Tactical Selling Strategies

In 1925, university professor and psychologist Edward K. Strong published The Psychology of Selling and Advertising. This book highlighted lasting sales principles such as sales features and benefits, handling objections, and types of questions to ask prospects. Strong wanted to emphasize that even though sales is a demanding industry, it can be taught, learned, and studied. 

After The Psychology of Selling and Advertising was published, corporate empires, entrepreneurs, and authors developed a deeper interest in the selling profession. Entrepreneur and author Dale Carnegie helped the sales profession evolve by coming up with the concept AIDCA, which stands for Attention, Interest, Desire, Conviction, and Action. The goal of AIDCA is to help salespeople move prospects through every stage of the buying cycle. 

Strong and Carnegie helped sales professionals progress and produce tactical selling strategies, including:

  • Making sales a repeatable, ongoing process
  • Showing that people can learn and master sales skills through consistent practice and education
  • Using research to solidify and articulate complex sales concepts

1988: Solution and Consultative Selling

Solution and consultative selling is the premise that customers are motivated to buy a product or service if there’s a need. More often than not, prospects don’t understand that they have a need, which is why asking open-ended questions is necessary for B2B selling. Solution selling focuses on determining the wants and needs of a prospect and providing a solution to their problems.

2011: Generating Predictable Revenue

In 2011, former Salesforce employee Aaron Ross believed that further role specialization was needed for the sales industry. Ross saw inefficiencies in the account executive role because they spent more time prospecting leads than closing business deals. After further investigation into the sales process, Ross came up with an idea to create a more specialized sales position—the sales development representative role.

Ross identified three main components to a sales process: lead generation, closing, and account management. Each part has one specialized professional focusing on that aspect of the sales strategy. Ross explained to the sales industry that business growth comes from qualified leads, which are determined in the lead generation portion of the sales process. Lead generation enables businesses to generate predictable growth and produce more revenue.

2015: SaaS Sales Stack

Software as a service (SaaS) prospecting automation has enabled companies to expand their footprint. There are an unlimited number of tools and technologies in the market today that business development and sales reps can use to advance their growth efforts. 

SaaS sales stack enables reps to streamline workflow processes and reach prospects closer to the end of their buying cycle. Adaptable CRM platforms like Salesforce allow sales teams to optimize their cold calling, email automation, and contact management efforts. With the right tools and technologies, business development and sales reps have the opportunity to spend less time doing tedious tasks and spend more time pitching prospects.


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