SDR vs. BDR vs. ADR vs. MDR | What’s The Difference?

business development representatives generate leads

A go-to-market strategy is essential for any business, no matter the size or stage of development. Various roles can play a part in your GTM strategy, and it’s necessary to understand what each one does to create an effective plan.

This blog post will define the four most common roles in a GTM strategy: SDR, BDR, ADR, and MDR. It will also include their responsibilities and fit into the overall plan. Simply put, you’ll learn about the difference between an inbound and outbound representative, along with what each role does for a business’ GTM strategy.

But first things first, what does GTM strategy mean?


Go-To-Market Strategy Defined: What Is GTM Strategy?

GTM strategy, or go-to-market strategy, is the process of planning how a business will reach target accounts or target markets and achieve desired outcomes. It’s an essential part of any company, regardless of size or stage of development, and it encompasses all aspects of marketing, sales, and customer service.

GTM Process

Four main steps are involved in this process:

  1. Market Segmentation
  2. Targeting the Right Audience with Marketing Channels
  3. Creating a Revenue Stream through Sales Activities & Processes
  4. Evaluating Success Through Metrics and Feedback Loops

Now that we have a basic understanding of GTM strategy, let’s dive into the different roles in a company and what they do.

sales reps qualifying inbound leads

The Four Main Roles in Go-To-Market Strategy: SDR, BDR, ADR, MDR

There are four prominent roles in a go-to-market strategy:

  • Sales Development Representative (SDR) // Inbound Follow Up
  • Business Development Representative (BDR) // Outbound Prospecting
  • Account Development Representative (ADR) // Prospecting Existing Accounts
  • Marketing Development Representative (MDR) // Inbound Follow Up, Top of Funnel

When it comes to a company’s GTM strategy, the roles of SDRs, BDRs, ADRs, and MDRs can be confusing.

But do the titles matter? And what do each of these roles entail? Each role has different responsibilities and plays an integral part in reaching a business’ target markets. 

Let’s take a closer look at each one.

Important Note: Sales Qualified Leads (SQL) vs. Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL)

Before we get started on the official definition of each role, it’s worth mentioning the difference between MQL vs SQL. At In Motion Marketing, we classify them as stages in a sales funnel. We don’t have a marketing funnel, it was replaced with a Marketing Flywheel.

  • MQL is a lead that has been assessed by the marketing team (e.g. marketing or sales development rep) and is ready to be passed to Sales.
  • SQL is a lead that has been assessed by the sales team (e.g. business development rep) and is ready to make a purchase – they enter the sales funnel.

These are stages not lead sources e.g. SQL isn’t lead generation from BDR, MQLs aren’t leads generated from a marketing campaign. The key is intent. Marketing or Sales team titles aside, it doesn’t matter who brings a lead into the CRM, the lead’s “readiness” to make a purchase is what determines whether they’re an MQL or SQL.

Sales Development Representative (SDR): Definition, Requirements, & What They Do

A sales development rep is a role that is responsible for inbound lead follow-up. They’re the first to reach out to a prospect and usually work within an inbound marketing strategy or similar generating leads through social media, content marketing, etc. An SDR focuses on new customers and potential buyers.

Requirements of Sales Development Representative

The requirements of a sales development representative vary depending on the company, but most require a bachelor’s degree in business, sales, or a related field and some sales experience.

Previous experience with cold calling and qualifying leads is also a plus. Having an early sales career may be a big boost here. They need a solid understanding of the product or service they’re working on and the ability to work in a self-directed manner, requiring minimal supervision.

Strong analytical capabilities to quickly and accurately identify patterns within data sets are also critical. Other requirements include excellent customer service and analytical skills and exceptional communication skills, including active listening and negotiating at the highest levels.

SDR Responsibilities: What They Do

Sales Development Reps are essential for any business because they focus on generating qualified prospects and qualifying them to see if they are a good fit for the company. They work with leads to assess their needs and determine whether or not they are interested in what the company has to offer.

They work closely with marketers, inside sales teams, and subject matter experts (SMEs) daily to identify target accounts/leads and gather information about those leads such as contact data or company information like size and revenue generation.

A sales development representative also closes sales by setting up meetings with prospects and providing them with information about their products or services.

They can also track engagement to provide insights about their clients’ buyer journey (and where they’re falling short).

Learn More » The Ultimate Guide to Demand Generation: Boosting Your Business Growth

Business Development Representative (BDR): Definition, Requirements, & What They Do

The next role in GTM strategy is the business development rep. A BDR focuses on outbound sales to fill the sales funnel with new business opportunities. Their main strategies are social selling, emailing cold leads.

Requirements of Business Development Representatives

Like sales development representatives, most companies require their business development representatives to have a bachelor’s degree. BDRs typically have a degree in business or marketing, and they must work independently.

They should also be good at networking and building relationships. BDRs also need at least two years of experience in a sales-related role with previous experience in cold calling and qualifying leads.

Excellent communication skills are also necessary because BDRs use them during presentations to convince leads about the value of their product or service. They must work self-directed, require minimal supervision, and have strong analytical capabilities.

The ability to quickly and accurately identify patterns within data sets and exceptional customer service skills are other requirements for business development reps.

BDR Responsibilities: What They Do

A business development representative is responsible for generating new leads and identifying prospects. They use various methods to find these prospects, such as social selling, networking events, tradeshows, cold emailing, and cold calling.

Once they’ve identified a prospect, they reach out to them and try to convince them to purchase the company’s products or services. A business development representative is also responsible for maintaining relationships with current customers and providing support as needed.

BDRs also handle negotiations with leads and update their progress throughout the sales process. They can track engagement to gain insight into their clients’ buyer journey (and where they’re falling short).

SDR vs. BDR: Similarities

An SDR and BDR are responsible for generating new leads and qualifying/identifying them to determine if they’re a good fit for the company. They work together throughout the entire sales process.

They also use strong communication skills daily, whether through cold calling or presenting their products or services to leads. Both roles require excellent customer service skills, excellent attention to detail, and strong analytical skills.

sales managers sales pipeline

Account Development Representative (ADR): Definition, Requirements, & What They Do

Account Development Representatives focus on existing clients (not potential leads) within an organization. They are account executives who identify which accounts would be the best fit for their products or services.

Account executives have more experience closing business. They help close deals with those organizations by following up with customers and providing support throughout the buying process.

Account Development Representative Requirements

ADRs must have excellent communication skills and should enjoy working with people. They should also work independently and be motivated to achieve results.

To succeed as an ADR, you’ll need to have a strong understanding of the company’s products or services and identify opportunities quickly. You should also be familiar with the buying process to provide support throughout the sale.

An ADR also needs to analyze data and understand what actions could lead to better results.

ADR Responsibilities: What They Do

Once a company has identified a potential customer, the Account Development Rep reaches out to them and convinces them to purchase the product or service. An account executive also works with current customers and provides support as needed.

An ADR supports the sales team by following up with leads and providing feedback on their progress. They also understand a customer’s buying process and the sales cycle to provide support throughout the sale.

ADRs use data to track engagement and identify where customers are falling short of improving the success of future sales efforts.

Learn More » What is ABM? Account Based Marketing Explained

crm platforms lead scoring

Marketing Development Representative (MDR)

Marketing Development Representatives, also known as MDRs, are responsible for qualifying prospects and progressing them to the sales team. This means they make sure people learn about its products or services by developing campaigns that encourage individuals to consume content.

MDR Requirements

MDRs should have a strong understanding of the company’s products or services and the buying process. They should also be familiar with various marketing channels to develop effective campaigns.

You’ll also need to analyze data and understand what actions could lead to better results. MDRs should make recommendations based on the insights they gain.

A marketing development rep should enjoy working with people and have excellent communication skills – primarily written communication. They also need to be able to manage projects and meet deadlines independently.

This role is an excellent fit for someone who loves working with people and finding business opportunities. MDRs should also organize them so they can manage their time and projects.

MDR Responsibilities: What They Do

MDRs are responsible for a lot of the top-of-funnel activity in a company’s marketing plan. This means they’re focused on executing the business’ brand strategy. Not to be confused with branding. MDRs provide value to people so that when it comes to buying time, the prospect is already familiar with what the company has to offer.

An MDR shouldn’t be “selling!” This happens a lot when businesses (especially SaaS companies with rapidly a growing inside sales team) get focused on driving the wrong metrics e.g. marketing qualified leads or sales qualified appointments. MDRs become underutilized when the responsibilities of Sales & Marketing are not properly defined. At In Motion Marketing, here’s our opinion:

Once your prospects get a hold of your content it should provide them immediate value and start the foundation of building a relationship with your brand. MDRs make sure this content gets distributed and reaches a broad audience – not only to attract new people but so existing customers will be encouraged to engage with the company again.

MDRs may work closely with the sales team when this stage is complete since they’re usually charged with following up on any lead that generates interest in the company. They use email and phone calls to schedule meetings, answer questions and learn more about what’s vital to their prospect so they can present a proposal that speaks directly to them.

When all of this is complete – meaning someone has agreed to explore purchasing with the business – MDRs hand off responsibility for nurturing these leads to salespeople.

SDR vs. BDR vs. ADR vs. MDR: So Do the Roles Matter?

Despite the confusion that often surrounds the different roles in a company’s sales & marketing departments (SDR vs. BDR vs. ADR vs. MDR), they all play an essential part in the overall strategy. While some people may be better suited for one role over another, it’s essential to have everyone working together towards a common goal.

  • Sales Development Representatives are inbound follow-up. They work with potential customers who have already expressed interest in its product or service.
  • Business Development Representatives are outbound. They reach out to potential customers who don’t yet know about the company and get them interested.
  • Account Development Representatives are outbound and focused on ABM. They work with customers that the company has already identified as a good fit for their product or service.

Marketing Development Representatives are inbound follow-up. They focus on getting people interested in the company’s product or service to become a potential buyer in the future.

Remember, SDRs focus on inbound lead qualification and follow-up, BDRs focus on prospecting outbound leads, ADRs focus on outbound and account development, and MDRs focus on inbound follow-up and top-of-funnel activity.

The Bottom Line of SDR vs. BDR vs. ADR vs. MDR

Businesses need a better understanding of their customer’s journey to fully utilize each role. Focusing heavily on over qualifying inbound marketing leads or scaling outbound lead prospecting is a giant waste of time without knowing how your consumers are making their purchasing decision.

Now that you know what each role should focus on, make sure you’re building up a team that’s there to add value to your customer every step of the way. Your GTM strategy is a framework that ties together all of your business’ marketing channels to give it the best chance at success. As highlighted, different types of reps play different roles in this strategy.

How do you measure marketing’s impact?

Glad you asked! We believe there are 7 KPIs you need. Find out which KPIs can help you accurately measure marketing’s impact on the business.

Picture of Bryan Philips
Bryan Philips
I'm Bryan Philips from In Motion Marketing, where we turn B2B marketing challenges into growth opportunities. I create marketing strategies and deliver clear messaging, working closely with CEOs, marketers, and entrepreneurs. We're known for our precision in messaging, creating impactful demand generation, and producing content that drives conversions, all tailored to each client's unique needs.
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