SDR stands for Sales Development Representative. An SDR is an inside sales representative responsible for the front end of the sales process often referred to as the top of the sales funnel. SDRs specialize in outbound prospecting into targeted prospects, generating interest, and then qualifying them for an introductory appointment with an Account Executive (AEs). SDRs are primarily responsible for generating Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs) and booking appointments instead of closing business, which results in signed contracts or monies paid. An SDRs quota is usually based upon the number of qualified meetings they book.
Companies often divide the sales role between SDRs and AEs to allow for specialization and, when done right, usually leads to increased sales and productivity in each function. AEs will take the introductory appointments set by the SDR and then move them through the sales funnel all the way to close. An AEs quota is usually based on the number of deals, gross profit, or revenue sold.
Some companies use the terms SDRs and Business Development Representatives (BDRs) interchangeably. But increasingly we have seen SDRs focusing on outbound prospecting whereas the BDR role is more focused on the qualification of inbound leads generated by marketing programs.