What’s different between Sales and Business Development ?

Sales vs. Business Development-StratoServe

Sales and Business Development are different- and there is a whole lot out there on the web, that consists of all manner of opinions and views on this very important topic. For, it lies at the very definition of marketing viz:

“Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large. “

(Approved July 2013, American Marketing Association)………………………….. emphasis on the word value added by us.

But Business Development, is not Marketing- that is much wider in scope. When compared to sales, though, the orientation and mindset of  Business Development is very different from Sales although both are interested in getting a deal as Victor Wong puts it. Here are 5 differences between Sales and Business Development, particularly in B2B contexts:

  1. Sales is Transactional – Business Development is Relational: Sales is about push-push , meeting quotas, dealing with the sales funnel and using CRM systems etc with the primary goal of getting a deal. The focus is very much on what the seller is selling, preferably sold on an “as is” basis. In contrast, business development is more about creating value for the customer. The Seller ( or Business Development Executive- if you prefer) is trying to really understand the customer’s problem and see if the seller’s product might be a good solution. 
  2. Business Development is Solution Selling:  Business Development really puts the customer first. The focus is on understanding customer needs and adapting the product or service to meet those needs, i.e. provide a solution. The solution gets better better over time as the seller’s organization gets better at understanding the needs and goals of the buyer organization. And the buyer organization better understands the seller’s capabilities.
  3. Business Development builds trust, commitment=loyalty: Not that you can sell if the buyer does not trust you. But since the business development orientation is all about a focus on the customer’s needs and problems , a business development approach helps the buyer organization trust you. Upon dealing with your organization for a while there is commitment that builds up on both sides. Mutual loyalty results in ongoing business,new projects and happy referrals.
  4. Business Development is longer sales cycles: In sales there is a mantra to identify customers that goes something like: “Need,Now and have Budget.” In other words, focus on immediate prospects for whatever you are selling. Business Development takes a longer term view starting with need that is at least latent and building the relationship from there on. 
  5. Business Development CRM is different from a sales call list: Today’s technology i.e. CRM (Customer Relationship Management) solutions take the longer sales cycle Business Development approach. So after a first meeting, you enter details in the system so that you can follow up in a timely fashion, particularly when multiple people from the sales organization are talking with multiple people in the buyer organization.

There is no such thing as a single contact sale even when you are talking about low value grocery necessities like milk and eggs. Here, customers have store and brand preferences that have developed over time with multiple prior experiences and touch points.

Given that ultimately everything that is sold or bought is based on long-term relationships, its better to go the longer term business development route than the short term-immediate result oriented sales route. When you do have a good business development pipeline, you see that the sales and revenue you need- keep coming through as prospects develop to customers and then loyal referral creating customers. About StratoServe.