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10 skills needed to be a business development representative in 2022

5 May 22

I first had the opportunity of becoming a BDR back in 2017 and I actually turned down a couple of job offers. To be completely honest, the role didn’t sound glamorous, progressive, or full of opportunities that would improve the skills I was looking for at the time. I also had the image of being that annoying sales guy, just chasing someone on the phone, making 100’s of cold calls a day, and ultimately thought it wouldn't be for me.

Since 2017 I have seen a major change in the B2B industry. Nowadays, the opportunities available are far more diverse and the skills needed to be a BDR are more appealing. Here are the skills I see that are needed to be a successful BDR in a world where the buyer has all the knowledge and opportunity to make judgements quickly:

1. Copywriter

2. Social seller

3. Creative thinker

4. Conversation starter

5. Thought challenger

6. Time manager

7. Learner

8. Marketer

9. Opportunity seeker

10. Chanel lover

1. Copywriter

To start with, you have to be able to communicate your ideas and develop a unique writing style that resembles your company and the value your offering gives. It's so easy to get caught up in what you know rather than what your prospects need to know. Being able to change the messaging of your email or LinkedIn message depending on persona, industry, or time of year can be a challenge, but always putting the customer first and spending a little longer on research can help you in the long term.

2. Social seller

It isn’t enough to just sell to your prospects, you have to be able to provide industry knowledge and build a personal brand. 75% of B2B buyers and 84% of C-suite executives use social media to make purchasing decisions, so most will look you up to check your credibility before replying to a call, email, or any other form of communication. It’s important they can find up-to-date information about you, as well as content that you have produced, which shows them that you are part of their network and can offer sound advice on their pain points.

3. Creative thinker

Just because a message isn't landing, doesn't necessarily mean it's a dead opportunity. Only 24% of sales emails are opened, so thinking creatively and being able to find new ways in by crafting distinct messages, exploring different channels like physical gifting and direct mail, and using originality and flair to get your message seen is precisely the job of a BDR. 

4. Conversation starter

A modern BDR has to give before they take. This often means sharing relevant content, understanding the buyer's problems, and knowing how they can help before they have even had a conversation with that prospect. This means having a greater understanding of product, industry, personas, business needs, and self-awareness.

5. Thought challenger

A BDR is often seen as a junior role, but actually, we often have to teach senior decision-makers who have been in the industry for years. We are faced with objections that can sometimes be difficult and are often different every time, so you can’t simply work from a script of pre-prepared answers. You have to think on your feet and take a deep breath before delivering each response.

6. Time manager

As much as a CRM can help to manage activities, it's still important for each BDR to work out what their optimum work level is. After all, what's possible for one BDR, won't be possible for another.

I read a LinkedIn post about a BDR who sends 100 emails a day and dials 180 calls. While this might be great for them, it just isn't a reasonable goal for me. I send about 30 emails a day, 30 calls and have about 50 contacts enrolled at any time. I also go to events twice a week, run direct mail campaigns, and film videos. So, it's all about finding a rhythm and cadence that works for you, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach.

7. Learner

As BDRs we have to continue learning, sharing, and developing our skills. We all learn in different ways, so spending some time with your peers, colleagues, and industry experts, reading, using LinkedIn, and attending events all help. It isn’t enough to leave it to management to drip-feed information. We have to be proactive and motivated to always do better.

8. Marketer

We don’t just sell anymore. Good BDRs will use the resources around them and work with marketing to develop their outreach and messaging. Understanding buyer intent data, different channels, copywriting, video creation, digital marketing, and event marketing all helps you reach your customers and get your message seen. There has been a big shift in B2B, with many BDRs now falling under the marketing team, and I love it!

9. Opportunity seeker

There are so many opportunities for BDRs to get involved and step up early. This could be public speaking, developing training, running deals, doing demos, producing content, or meeting with clients face-to-face. With the help of social media and content creation, our jobs are no longer restricted to what has traditionally been done or expected before.

10. Channel lover

Just like fashion, the B2B world goes through trends of what works and what doesn’t. I never thought I would see wide leg pants on the catwalk again so soon, but there you go - I'm here for it!

The fact is, we're no longer limited in the way we reach out to prospects. Whether it’s with personalized notes, direct mail, videos, emails, calls, text, voicemail, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, events, or dinners, the list goes on. Ultimately, when it comes to getting your voice heard and message seen, the B2B space is competitive, but this gives us space to innovate, and there are lots of opportunities to stand out and find the platforms that work for you and your customers if you look for them.

 

3 outreach tips for business development representatives

 

1. Get personal

80% of consumers are more likely to buy a product from a brand that provides personalized experiences. So, when prospecting, make sure that every email or message you send includes personal details like their name and job title at the very least. Step it up with mentions of personal anecdotes, hobbies, and interests that your prospect enjoys - you can usually find out about these by looking at their social media profiles beforehand. 

2. Surprise and delight with direct mail

Not only does everyone enjoy receiving gifts, but the results of utilizing direct mail as part of your outreach strategy speak for themselves. To kick off your gifting efforts, try sending a prospect a personalized bottle of champagne or a box of cupcakes with a picture of their face printed on the icing - it's sweet, cheeky, and is guaranteed to raise a smile. 

3. Don't sell, tell stories

Storytelling and sales go hand in hand. Use your ideal customer profile to craft narratives that speak to their pain points and help them see the need for your product or service. Position prospects as characters and use content such as case studies, eBooks and whitepapers to show how you can help them find specific solutions for their problems.

 

Wrapping up 

Being a Business Development Representative can be an extremely rewarding job and the scope for creativity and innovation is endless. I challenge all of you to try something new this week and I want to hear what is working!

Ben Smith BDR Team Lead @ Reachdesk
Use our sales development playbook to break through to prospects using direct mail and gifting

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