It is a common misconception that the purpose and function of sales and business development are identical. This is partially the fault of the recent trend in switching job titles from salesperson to business development because of the bad stigma that surrounds the title “salesperson.”
When you look at the entire field of business development, you are not only looking at the soft sales skills of qualification and negotiation, you are also looking at it as a marketing function. In business development, it is necessary to have certain sales skills; however, the emphasis is really on marketing skills. Business development is more of a marketing position than it is a sales position.
The typical objectives of a business development position come in new user acquisition, brand placement, market expansion, and market awareness, which are all included in your typical marketing position. The only reason that business development teeters towards a sales position is because you need those sales skills to reach all of the marketing goals.
A sale employee’s function is to directly sell to the end customer. There are no middlemen to go through. One is just pitching the product (Point A) to the consumer (point B). The position of someone in business development is to work through partners in the company to incorporate a sales plan to sell to the customer in a scalable way.
Scalability is the key factor in determining the difference between sales and business development. Scalability allows for a company to use various sales teams they have created and implemented into their business plan to reach new customers. Sales are only part of the equation, but certainly not the whole part. Sales teams tend to grow in numbers as the company continues to grow while business development teams tend to be smaller in size working through their established infrastructure. The art of business development comes from finding partners that fit the mold, while, at the same time, finding a method to deliver value to their partner’s end customer and business as a whole.
This blog post is based off of this article.