What is Inside Sales? About the two typical roles, SDR and BDR

B2B marketing

What is Inside Sales?

Inside sales is a term used to describe sales activities conducted in a non-personal manner using calls and e-mails. Among call-based sales techniques, inside sales is unique in that it is a sales activity that focuses on relationship building compared to other call-based sales techniques.

Communicate with prospects (leads) by phone or email, listen to their issues and needs, promote the company’s products/services, and build relationships.

Differences from Field Sales

The term “field sales” refers to sales activities in which products/services are proposed through direct dialogue by visiting customers and leading to the receipt of orders.
Traditionally, a single sales representative was responsible for the entire process of acquiring new customers and receiving orders, from making a list of potential customers, approaching them by phone, and visiting them to closing the deal.
Today, however, many companies have adopted a sales model in which this process is broken down and divided into the following activities.

Inside Sales responsibilities: Finding prospective clients → Nurturing → Making appointments
field sales responsibilities: Visit/web meeting → Closing the deal

Inside sales and field sales are two different sales process players.

Difference from tele-appointment

The term “tele-appointment” is sometimes confused with “inside sales,” a sales technique that uses the same calls as inside sales.
While both are call-based sales techniques, their roles are different. Inside sales focuses on building relationships, while tele-appointments are focused on listening to issues and making appointments.

There is a significant gap between inside sales and telemarketing, both in terms of the amount of information that can be obtained and the difficulty of the call.

The Role of Inside Sales

Next, consider the role of inside sales.
The role of inside sales varies by company and business type. In a nutshell, “non-face-to-face sales activities using calls and e-mails” may be said, but the required roles vary widely.
Here, we will focus on two roles, broadly classified according to target and characteristics.

SDR(sales development representative)

  • Target: Small and medium-sized enterprises
  • Role: Creation of business opportunities from inbound business
  • Features: Direct response, pull type

Approach prospective customers who have taken action, such as making inquiries via the Web or downloading white papers. Since the target customers are those who have already identified their problems, we basically aim to obtain business opportunities in a short period of time without damaging their willingness to purchase. This is also referred to as a “direct response” or “pull” type of sales.

BDR(business development representative)

  • Target: Major companies
  • Role: Select target companies and approach them strategically
  • Features: New business development, PUSH type

This is a new business development call in which target companies are selected in advance, and a strategy is formulated and executed. Since key personnel at major companies do not make inquiries or gather information on their own, they cannot be acquired through inbound calls. In addition, since the likelihood of receiving orders from general staff is also low, it is necessary to approach key personnel directly.

The introduction of a new product in a major company involves multiple stakeholders and a prolonged consideration period. However, this means that a high level of success is expected when the deal is signed.
BDR, which involves developing a strategy and building relationships with customers through a long-term approach, is highly challenging and requires long-term development before it can be done in-house.


Under the influence of the new coronavirus after 2020, many companies have decided to introduce inside sales, and further increases are expected in the future. When implementing inside sales, it is important to understand the role of inside sales, the purpose of implementing inside sales, and the difference between inside sales and tele-appointments, and to consider the best fit for your company’s business model.

I&D provides high-quality inside sales representative services based on our track record of more than 3,000 projects completed in the past. Please feel free to contact us for more information.

The writer of this article.
Miyuki Saito

Manager, Global Solutions Department

Over 15 years of experience as a marketing manager, product manager, promotion, etc. for various global B2B companies.

Has executed many projects to support foreign companies wishing to start sales activities in Japan to expand their business overseas.

Graduated from the University of California, Berkeley.

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