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It is a common misconception that the functions of business development and sales development are interchangeable, when in reality, the two are quite different.  In order to identify their differences, it is important to understand what defines both varieties of development, how their different strategies are developed and finally how the function of sales and business development intersect.

What Is Business Development?

Business development is a business unit within a company or organizations that works to produce long-term growth and profitability using three primary activities.  They consist of, but are not necessarily limited to, establishing business in new markets, generating significant partnerships, and improving the current customer base.  Successful business development involves a mix of negotiations, marketing, project management, sales, networking, and reviewing contracts.  Essentially, business development determines how much a business will grow, where that growth will come from, and what approach is needed to attain that growth.

What Is Sales Development?

While many people consider sales development to revolve primarily around the process of increasing sales, in many instances the sales process is far more detailed.  Sales development is the formalization of how a sales team influences customers with their services and products.  This includes ensuring the method used to contact prospective clients or customers is effective and cost-efficient for producing long-term clients or customers.  In simple terms, sales development is responsible for creating a relationship with customers in order to align them with your products or services. 

Business Development Strategies and Goals

Essentially, when developing a business strategy, it is important to remember that the primary goal is to build partnerships that allow leverage for driving revenue.  In effect, it should thoroughly explain the company’s short-term and long-term goals and how they can be achieved.  Additionally, it should include a description of the company, management organization chart, an explanation of your services or products, a look at the market and your competitors, financial information, and a marketing and sales plan.
Goals commonly seen in business development plan include new user acquisition, brand placement, brand awareness, and market expansion. 

Sales Development Strategies

When developing a sales strategy, there are several important elements to consider.  Firstly, it is important to determine whether your company can execute the plan independently, how much it will cost to execute, how long it will take to see results, whether or not you have the necessary resources, and how the results can be measured. 

Keep in mind that the main function of sales is to sell directly to the customer.  Therefore, your goal is to close as many sales as possible. 

The Results of Business and Sales Development

It’s important to note that business development professionals almost exclusively interact with other professionals or senior executives.  On the other hand, sales people are selling to the end user.  Business development results are demonstrated by delivering the promised results outlined in your business development plan, while sales results are established by looking at the sales numbers.  When done correctly in collaboration, they result in ongoing business, referrals for new customers, and new projects. 

How the Two Intersect

While business development is the creation, focus, and measurement of a plan, sales development involves the actual execution.  Business development works with partners to sell to customers in a way that can be measured, whereas sales are simply the process of converting leads into customers.  In order for a company to have high sales, it is imperative that your business development plan be well written and implemented. 

In summary, business development requires a thorough examination of your current target market and sales channels, in an effort to reach new partners and customers. However, sales development is the act of closing a sale.  While a good business development strategy is essential to effective sales development, it’s important to remember the distinction between the two.

About the Canadian Professional Sales Association
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Are You Picking the Right Compensation Plan for Your Business?



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