10 min read

Full cycle sales rep V SDR/BDR/AE-what's the difference?

Full cycle sales rep V SDR/BDR/AE-what's the difference?

 Full-cycle sales and the SDR/AE model 

Are you feeling a tad bewildered about the SDR/AE Model?


Wondering why in the world you would need a BDR? Or maybe you're wondering how all this works with full-cycle sales?

Well, don't worry! We've got the lowdown to help you get your head around it all!

Let's dive in and take a closer look at each role.


Contents SDR AE Graphic


What is the SDR/AE Model?

What's the difference between a BDR and an SDR?

What is an Account Executive?

An alternative to the SDR/AE Model

What is full-cycle sales?

What type of business is best suited to a full-cycle sales model?

What are the benefits of Full-Cycle Sales?

Top 5 Advantages of full-cycle sales

How HubSpot Supports Full-Cycle Sales


What is an SDR? 

A Sales Development Representative is like the ultimate inside sales rep, selling products or services from the comfort of their desk instead of going out into the big, bad world. Using multi-channel outreach to prospect, and pursue leads SDRs are sometimes known as inside sales or digital sales reps and typically focus on inbound leads.

One of the greatest perks of being an SDR is the opportunity to sharpen your skills in specific areas of the sales process. SDRs can become a master in prospecting and making it their secret weapon. By dividing tasks, SDRs focus on early funnel stages with the goal of specialising to gain greater success.

Before reaching out to potential leads, SDRs invest time in research to understand their businesses and challenges. If they believe the prospect is a good match, they'll hand it off to a more experienced salesperson, such as an account rep or executive. It's like passing the baton to the pros. In larger companies sometimes SDRs collaborate with BDRs to create a prospecting database they can share. So now you might be thinking.....


What is a BDR?

A Business Development Representative (BDR) is responsible for generating new business opportunities by qualifying leads and prospecting through new and existing business accounts to engage with potential buyers. 

Sales Managers understand the importance of outbound sales and therefore entrust business development representatives (BDRs) with the crucial task of qualifying leads and initiating contact with potential clients.

BDRs have a knack for conducting thorough research and actively seeking out new leads and potential customers in untapped areas. They dedicate their efforts to outbound lead generation and qualification methods, including spending time on MQLs. Once the qualification process is complete, BDRs convert cold leads into warm prospects and then pass on the lead to an AE.

What is the SDR/BDR/AE Model? 🔍

In the SDR/BDR/AE Model, sales teams are strategically divided into two distinct groups to optimise their effectiveness. Usually SDRs & AEs, sometimes BDRs and AEs, and although not common, sometimes you will get a mix of SDR/BDRs and AEs.

7Between them, these groups cover all aspects of the sales cycle that looks downward curve arrow  something like this;

  1. Prospecting
  2. Qualifying
  3. Discovery
  4. Demo/Product or service presentation
  5. Overcoming objections
  6. Proposal
  7. Closing the sale

Businesses that have SDR and BDR teams will usually divide their sales cycle somewhere around stages 3, 4, or maybe 5. The exact split depends on the sales manager's judgment and what works best for their business.

BDRs hand over their prospects to either SDRs or account executives (AEs). This split approach means that different salespeople take on different responsibilities, which can lead to communication issues and a lack of continuity for the buyer as they interact with multiple salespeople.


Unsure what the difference is between a BDR and an SDR?

The specific responsibilities for these positions are determined by each company. It is not uncommon for companies to use the terms "BDR" and "SDR" interchangeably, and they may refer to the same role with different names. There are various titles for this function, such as Lead Generation (Lead Gen), Business Development (Biz Dev) Appointment Setting, Lead Qualification, and Junior Sales Rep.

In the vast world of sales organisations, you might come across some larger companies that have multiple sales development functions. It's like having a secret code to decipher!  One could be responsible for qualifying inbound leads, while the other tackles outbound leads. And to add to the complexity, one might hand off to an account executive in the inside sales team or maybe in the digital sales team, while the other collaborates with the field sales team. It's like a sales puzzle waiting to be solved! So it's always a really good idea to ask clarifying questions to truly understand the job role and the responsibilities of a BDR or SDR member of the sales team!


What to ask to get clarity on sales roles?

  1. Do they focus on inbound leads, warm outbound leads, or cold outbound leads?
  2. Who do they hand off to?
  3. How are leads dispersed?
  4. What constitutes a qualified lead?
  5. What’s the primary goal (sales qualification, appointment setting or something else?)


What is an Account Executive?

Account Executive Role

An account executive (AE) is a salesperson with primary day-to-day responsibility for an ongoing business relationship with a customer and to close deals. AEs have a detailed understanding of a customer company's objectives, products and solutions with the main objective of retaining and growing customer relationships.

Typically Account Executives need to have the following skills and attributes;

  • excellent communication and interpersonal skills
  • ability to build strong relationships (both internal and with clients)
  • a proactive attitude, with the ability to use initiative and be flexible
  • an organised approach to their work
  • expert at sales planning - opportunity plans, account plans, territory plans etc
  • knowledgeable on at least one sales methodology and qualification technique
  • the ability to work under pressure, process large quantities of information quickly while maintaining attention to detail
  • drive and determination
  • effective team-working skills
  • influencing and negotiation skills
  • client-focussed
  • oral and written communication skills
  • commercial awareness, well developed business acumen
  • resilience, to enable them to deal with lost sales opportunities and customer challenges
  • IT literacy; specifically CRM and collaboration tools, and tools to distribute (and/or create) content together with an awareness of how their industry is developing through new technologies.


Hello to an alternative to the SDR/AE Model


Introducing full cycle sales 💗

In response to high costs and the dissatisfaction with the SDR/AE model and the negative impact it has on customer experience, many companies are embracing a new trend known as full-cycle sales. This approach involves the adoption of full-cycle sales reps, who take on the responsibility of prospecting leads, closing deals, and managing accounts. This shift towards full-cycle sales aims to provide a more seamless and efficient sales process, ultimately improving customer satisfaction.


What is full-cycle sales?

Full-Cycle Sales Model In the old days, sales meant you hunted it, killed it, ate it, or maybe you farmed it!

Full-cycle sales is a return to this thinking - a method for providing B2B (and B2C) sales that puts individual sales reps in control of the whole sales process.

Although models can differ, in a typical sales cycle, there are various stages to consider:

  1. Prospecting
  2. Qualifying
  3. Discovery
  4. Demo/Product or Service Presentation
  5. Overcoming objections
  6. Proposal
  7. Closing the sale

Let's face it, stages like qualification and discovery are never really over until the deal is closed. Like your reliable companions throughout the sales cycle, always there to guide you until you reach the closing stage.  But hang on, there's no finish line at stage seven!

Sales keep on going, round and round, from stage one, prospecting, all the way to closing the deal.  In a full-cycle sales model, a single sales rep takes charge of the entire journey, handling initial prospects and seeing it through to the final sale and sometimes post-sale account management before doing it all over again!


What type of business is best suited to a full-cycle sales model?

Full-cycle sales is a beneficial approach for all types of businesses, but it particularly suits Startups and Mid-market companies as it provides the best ROI on Sales and Marketing investments.  

Melbourne CDB tram That being said, larger-sized businesses can also effectively implement a full-cycle sales model. In larger organisations, the implementation of a full-cycle sales model allows for a more streamlined and efficient sales process. By assigning a single sales representative to handle the entire sales journey, from prospecting to closing deals and managing accounts, there is a higher level of continuity and accountability. This eliminates any potential communication issues or lack of continuity that may arise when multiple salespeople are involved in different stages of the sales cycle.

Furthermore, adopting a full-cycle sales model in larger companies can help address challenges that may arise with split sales models. For instance, when BDRs pass on leads and the receiving AE team they hand over fails to close them, BDRs may feel compelled to close deals themselves. This obviously can cause issues for sales managers who have disgruntled sales executives as well as dissatisfied BDRs on their teams.

Similarly, when BDRs and SDRs fail to hand over leads to the AEs at the appropriate time, it can create friction and frustration among the sales team. This occurs too often and unfortunately, such situations can lead to resentment among SDR and AE teams, especially when disputes arise over bonuses and commissions.

By transitioning to a full-cycle sales approach, these challenges can be alleviated, leading to a more motivated and productive sales team.

By focusing on the customer's needs and making the sales process as seamless as possible, sales representatives can generate better-qualified leads and increase customer satisfaction.

Moreover, when sales executives are involved in all stages of the sales cycle, they are more likely to accurately assess the potential of each lead and avoid prematurely disqualifying opportunities. The Full Cycle Sales Model works for opportunities of all sizes from deals under 10k to multi-million dollar deals, full cycle sales can easily adapt to work well for any size deal.

By streamlining the sales process, ensuring continuity, and maintaining a customer-centric approach, businesses of all sizes can optimise their sales effectiveness and drive growth. This can be extended further by taking advantage of sales tools, such as Sales Hub, that leverage automation and AI.


What are the benefits of full-cycle sales?

Full-cycle sales is a favoured approach by many sales managers as it offers streamlined processes and aligns with operational needs, especially for geographically dispersed or large teams.

On the other hand, some business leaders impose full-sales cycles on their senior sales executives to create a fair playing field and identify top performers. While transitioning from a split model may not be suitable for every sales team, it is important to carefully weigh the potential benefits against any short-term disruptions that may arise.


TOP 5 advantages of full-cycle sales


1. Maintain a customer-centric approach

Implementing customer-centric or customer-first strategies can greatly benefit your sales team by generating highly qualified leads from engaged customers. However, it's important to acknowledge that selling to existing customers does have its challenges. Sales transactions typically occur when the customer is ready to make a purchase, which is often determined by their own timeline rather than the salesperson's efforts. This can be frustrating for salespeople to accept, and being too pushy in these situations can potentially harm the relationship with your existing customers.


Instead, it is more effective to focus on understanding your customer's wants and needs and making it as easy as possible for them to convert. By utilising a salesperson as a single point of contact for future sales, inquiries, and order follow-ups, you can provide a seamless and personalised experience for your customers. This approach not only fosters stronger customer relationships but also increases the likelihood of repeat business and customer loyalty.


2. Achieve More with Less & Reduce Costs

Companies are constantly seeking ways to achieve more with less and realise cost savings. Transitioning to a full-cycle sales model can help achieve this. With full-cycle sales, a single sales representative takes charge of the entire journey, from prospecting leads to closing deals and managing accounts. This approach provides a more seamless and efficient sales process, ultimately improving customer satisfaction.

By having a single sales representative responsible for the entire sales cycle, companies can streamline their operations and reduce the need for multiple salespeople involved in different stages of the process. This not only saves on resources and costs but also ensures better continuity and accountability throughout the sales journey. 


3. Deliver What Your Customers Want

If your sales process involves both BDRs and account executives or SDRs, and AEs it can certainly be effective. Some clients may prefer to maintain their relationships with their account executive, especially if they are satisfied with the service they are receiving.

However, most customers prefer to have a single point of contact throughout the entire sales process. This is often the case for customers returning after a period of not placing orders or for customers who require personalised service for each order.

If you are hearing this feedback from any or all of your customers, transitioning to a full-cycle sales approach would be a logical step. This approach can be particularly beneficial in B2B sales scenarios where client entertainment, product education, or technical sales are important considerations.


4. Avoid disqualifying too many leads

When you have inadequately trained SDRs who lack a deep understanding of your value proposition and overall sales process, it can lead to subpar results in lead qualification.

While it's natural for SDRs to disqualify some leads during the qualification process. For example, the prospect may not be a suitable fit or may not be ready to make a purchasing decision.

In contrast, when sales executives are responsible for both prospecting and lead qualification, they are more likely to abandon leads only when it becomes evident that there is no potential for progress.

When a sales rep is solely focused on lead qualification and has not been involved in earlier stages of the sales process, it becomes easier to disqualify leads without fully exploring their potential. This can result in missed sales opportunities that could have led to successful closures.

While a split team sales model doesn't necessarily mean that you are discarding good leads, there is always the potential for it to happen. However, in a full-cycle sales model, the likelihood of losing valuable leads is significantly reduced.


5. Delight your sales reps with what they crave

In some sales teams, it’ll be your sales executives, not your customers, who tell you they'd prefer to work in a full-cycle sales environment. For sales executives, it means enjoying a more varied role, taking charge of all the stages in the cycle, not just one or two. Also, full-cycle sales can lead to higher revenue due to fewer disqualifications, thereby boosting the earning potential of sales reps.

Full-cycle sales models also help make the ownership of sales more clear-cut. By having one person prospect, nurture, qualify, and close their sales, there's less room for others to claim commissions or ownership of sales in which they've only had a minor role. As a result, this can lead to a happier workplace and better staff retention.



What makes a successful full cycle sales rep?

As well as having a solid sales strategy plan, top full cycle salespeople typically have mastered these five sales skills/attributes 

  • Customer Segmentation
  • Clarifying Questions
  • Customer Objections
  • Well defined Cross-Sell and Upsell pathways
  • Access to sales training and best practices

For more information on this read Beginners Guide to B2B Sales blog article


How HubSpot Supports Full-Cycle Sales 

The tools we have access to now are one of the top reasons full-cycle sales is more effective than in the past.  With a customer relationship management (CRM) system like HubSpot, you can effortlessly keep track of all your deals, right from the very beginning of the sales cycle to closing the deal and even generating new referrals from your existing clients.

One of the major perks of using HubSpot in a full-cycle sales setup is that you get to centralise all your precious prospect and customer data in one convenient location. No more searching through multiple platforms or spreadsheets - no need for swivel chair style integration, everything you need is right at your fingertips.

With little internal overhead to maintain and run HubSpot, Opex savings of up to 50% are standard when compared to Salesforce.

HubSpot Sales Hub allows managers to easily understand who's dealing with which clients HubSpot Sales Hub logoand, crucially, which sales rep is in charge of which contact. In a full-cycle sales model, you'll want all inbound calls and emails from a contact to go to the assigned rep. Equally, a Smart CRM that filters email correspondence and inbound phone calls seamlessly will help streamline your internal processes. Not only does it save time among your staff, but it should also improve the customer's experience by finding their point of contact effortlessly.

HubSpot Sales Hub also provides you with sales analytics. By tracking your sales reps' performance and where they are in the sales cycle, you can better predict how to manage your financial and human resources down the line.

Likewise, if too many sales reps are at the prospecting and nurturing stages, HubSpot will be able to alert you, allowing you to make informed management decisions. 

Sales Hub integrates with email, SMS, Whatsapp, calls, Video, LinkedIn and more. Research shows there is a "right number" of tools when it comes to sales outreach.  In a HubSpot Survey of UK & I sales managers from a cross section of the market, approximately 50% of the teams that responded use between three and five tools

Having all your sales tools available in one place means better productivity, simplified operations and greater sales success.


Graph of tools used by sales people

Top Tip: Pair HubSpot's smart CRM with Sales Hub for an unbeatable customer platform that will knock your socks off!


If you're interested in finding out how we can help with full-cycle sales check out our sales consultancy section or get in touch for an obligation-free chat!

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