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The Complete Guide to Inside Sales Job Titles: SDRs, BDRs, ISRs, AEs and More

5 min readMarch 10, 2022

What’s the difference between an SDR, BDR, AE and CSM? 

Sometimes it seems like the sales industry is full of more acronyms than the U.S. government. So if you’re confused about the differences between these roles, it’s understandable.

To further confuse matters, if you go to two different companies, they might be calling the same inside sales role by different titles. A business development rep (BDR) at Company A might be called a sales development rep (SDR) at Company B. 

If you are struggling to know who’s who in sales organizations and what responsibilities each of them holds, here’s a list of inside sales role acronyms, grouped by job type, including what they mean and what each does.

I’m also going to include some helpful resources for reps in these roles as well as their managers. So whether you’re just beginning your career in sales or are new to management, read on, we’ve got you covered.

Lead Qualification Sales Job Titles

There are two types of roles in the lead qualification category. Those that focus their efforts primarily on inbound leads and those that focus on identifying and qualifying outbound leads. At nearly all B2B companies, they do not “close” deals. These lead qualification positions are solely responsible for creating and qualifying new sales opportunities to hand off to account executives (i.e. “closers”). Doing so allows deal closers to focus their efforts on creating revenue.

These sales jobs are qualifiers that contact their prospects through a variety of channels including email, social media, and phone calls. Their success is often measured based on metrics such as call and email volume, connect ratios, conversations per week and sales-accepted leads (SALs). There are different ways to monitor these metrics, but the Revenue.io platform delivers turnkey reports in Salesforce that make it easy to measure the success of lead qualification reps.

To optimize call volume and efficiency, dialers and automated CRM activity logging are often used.

Inbound Sales Roles

Inbound qualifiers focus their efforts on inbound leads. Their lead sources include web form submissions, downloads of marketing content such as e-books and white papers, chat bot requests, plus those from webinars and trade shows. These sales roles also handle inbound calls from marketing ads. Having customer intent data handy can improve results for these reps by providing them with valuable intel. The following are their most common job titles:

ISR – Inbound Sales Rep

LDR – Lead Development Rep

LRR – Lead Response Rep

MQR – Marketing Qualification Rep

MRR – Market Response Rep

Recommended Resource:

Research by the Harvard Business Review has found that a rep’s chances of converting a lead go down drastically after the first five minutes. Yet most B2B companies don’t have a five-minute SLA – in fact, many never respond to their inbound leads at all, causing them to waste a valuable source of revenue. This infographic shows some proven tips for responding to leads in 5 minutes or less!

View Infographic

Outbound Sales Roles

These qualifying sales roles are representatives work off a targeted list of potential prospects to develop new sales opportunities from cold or inactive accounts. They spend their time researching prospective companies, identifying leads within these accounts, contacting these leads, and qualifying them. When communicating with these leads, personalization really improves results. They are often known by the following names:

SDR – Sales Development Rep

BDR – Business Development Rep

ADR – Account Development Rep

Recommended Resource:

Most of us think of discovery as one initial call where you learn everything you can about your prospect in 20 minutes, and then you have all the information you need to solve their problems.

But for top sales reps, discovery only starts there. This eBook reveals the top 5 tactics they use to set their deals up for success in our latest ebook, with tips that you can start using on your discovery today.

Read eBook

Sales Closer Roles

Sales closers are quota-carrying reps who receive hot prospects from lead qualification reps and work them until they close the deal. It is often recommended that closers stay in touch with new customers, after the close, throughout the setup and launch process to ensure a smooth transition.

AE – Account Executive (a.k.a. closer or salesperson)

SE – Sales Executive

ISR – Inside Sales Rep

Recommended Resources:

Call scripts can hold you back from building authentic connections and valuable relationships on sales calls. That’s why we came up with conversational roadmaps for account executives. This resource for AEs, SEs and ISRs provides a new, flexible call structure that doesn’t lock you into an inauthentic script, but still  has the assurance of proven selling points. It’s the best of both worlds.

Read Guide

Straight from our VP of Sales, here is a video showing the perfect template for a recap email. Our own AEs have used this format to help drive million of dollars in ARR.

Management of Current Customers

Like those in the lead qualification reps, there are two types of reps under “management of current customers”. One of these sales roles focuses solely on retention while the other grows accounts through cross-selling and up-selling.

Retention

These reps launch new clients and assist them with their ongoing requirements to promote satisfaction and success to ensure renewals. Their goal is to help their customers get more value from their product through hands-on help, education, and training. They are identified by the following titles:

CSR – Customer Success Rep

CSM – Customer Success Manager

CSE – Customer Success Executive

CSE – Customer Support Executive

Retention and growth

These reps carry a quota.  They perform all the retention processes and pursue cross-sell/up-sell opportunities to grow their accounts. They do so through a variety of methods such as email, phone calls, web presentations, and social media. Below are the most common titles for this position:

AM – Account Manager

AR – Account Rep

One thing all these reps must do is communicate effectively with their prospects and customers. A best practice to sharpen their pitch is to routinely listen to their own call recordings and those of other successful team members. Tracking metrics is also an excellent practice to ensure they’re on track to hit their numbers. Of course increased efficiency is necessary for success in all these roles. Sales process automation is a great way for these reps to accomplish this.

Although this list is extensive, there is an ever-growing variety of creative titles assigned to inside sales roles.

About the Author

Jesse WestDirector of Lifecycle MarketingringDNA

Jesse Davis West is Director of Lifecycle Marketing at ringDNA, focusing on improving the experience and maximizing the lifetime value for customers across their entire journey. Drawing on 9 years of B2B marketing experience, Jesse is passionate about communication, branding and strategic marketing. He also plays a mean lead guitar and can throw down at karaoke.