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Have you ever heard people interchanging the words “unique” and “special or “redundant” and “repetitive?” Though people tend to use these words like synonyms, they actually have different meanings. “Business development” and “sales” are another pair that likes to confuse people. Despite this common misconception, these roles have very clear distinctions and differences in the workplace.

It’s true that business development (BD) does overlap with sales – the end goal for both of these jobs is to convert a potential customer into a real one. However, unlike sales, which focuses more on selling directly to the customer, business development is about creating a personal feel with the client and reeling them into the business.

Some Differences

Business Development is about gathering ideas that can help clients and then initiate the start of the project before diving in deep. It also creates a match between the product and a client within the market. After this step has been initiated, the sales team comes in and starts talking about costs and negotiations with the customer.

Though I explained these steps in just three sentences, it can take quite a while for the customer to transition from just talking to actually becoming a paid customer.

Sometimes, business development involves taking a potential client out to a basketball game, to lunch, or to golf outings to attract them; all of which can take a long time to establish a relationship. But, the main thing is that business development teams ease a client into the dealings and sales aspect. On the other hand, sales are the process of creating revenue from the product, a step past the business development aspect.

Below is a list of specific distinctions between the two roles which should help clear up any misconceptions.

1. Scalability

As established before, sales are the process of selling a product directly to the customer. However, business development involves selling the product in a way that is scalable to the customer. Scalability is important since it permits businesses to get in contact with their potential clients.

2. Size

Business development teams tend to be smaller, whereas sales teams tend to be larger in a company since sales directly affect the bottom line.

3. Plan execution

Business Development professionals execute a plan in specific ways, but generally, follow a set of guidelines. Usually, a professional will first find their target audience, then research the issues that the potential client experiences, research their buying behavior, and research their customers. Next, the professional would find their advantage against any competitors and then choose a strategy and some tactics to attract customers.

Strategies for business developers would include building a solid relationship with clients. This would occur through forms of networking, referrals, advertising, sponsorship, mail, phone calls, leadership, marketing, in-person/digital demos, speaking at conferences, blogging, vlogging, digital ads, and more.

Sales consist of the team that interacts directly with the potential customer and turns them into a paying customer. Sales teams can increase any involvement in an existing market, cold call, use social media, negotiate, give presentations, and execute other strategies. Sometimes a salesperson gives a customer the “inside scoop” or something very attractive for free to ensure their customer’s happiness, and eventually convert that customer into a client for life.

4. Agility in the Marketplace

Business Development teams need the ability to be flexible and adjust to the market trends, which are always fluctuating. Once a change in the market occurs, the teams need to make quick decisions and adjust a company’s prices or products to fit the trends. On the opposite hand, when faced with a fluctuation in the market, the sales team needs to mark and observe the trends so they can adjust any performance factors in their sales pitch.

5. The Big Picture

Sometimes, salespeople may write how they turn clients into friends, and how they create trust between the two parties. However, this is the role of the business development team, not sales. Sales are able to work with selling existing products to existing customers, which isn’t the role of development professionals.

To put it in perspective, the business development team of, for example, company A convinces company B to create a partnership, whereas the company A sales team convinces company B to buy as a result of the partnership.

Clearly, the power of a strong business development and sales team can greatly influence one’s business’s conversion rates in this ever-changing market. If your business is looking for professionals within these branches, SDI is an option for you. Sales professionals from SDI have worked with small and large companies, startups, and enterprises for over a decade in strategizing the best options and opportunities for businesses to grow and effectively sell their product.

If you’re interested in strengthening your business’s conversion rate, call Rob LaPointe at 408.802.2885 or fill out our contact form.

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