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Sales Strategy
The Role of Business Development vs Sales
Feb 23, 2018 | Canadian Professional Sales Association lock

Many people, outside of business development and sales, often consider that these roles are synonymous; just different ways of describing the same thing. And while it’s true that both roles exist to grow a business, they are not the same at all.

In fact, what it comes down to is the division of the sales process. In companies where there are both business development reps and sales reps, each is responsible for clearly defined aspects of the sales funnel. Here we’ll describe the role of business development vs sales.

The Role of Business Development

The role of business development is to expand an organisation’s reach. In terms of a sales team, a business development representative would be tasked with such activities as researching, prospecting, and qualifying leads. Business development reps will make customer calls, but their role is more about information gathering: what are the prospect’s business needs and pain needs? How can your company provide a solution? Once a lead has been qualified, a business development rep would then pass them onto sales where it’s the rep’s task to further develop and close. Because they are not responsible for closing deals, unlike sales reps, business development pros do not have quotas.

The reason why some companies now remove this part of the process from their sales reps is that it is increasingly difficult to reach a buyer. It’s a labour intensive job that requires a great deal of time and it doesn’t make sense for all this to fall on the shoulders of a sales rep with a quota to meet. Having team members whose sole focus is to qualify leads creates efficiencies in the sales process. Some companies may also use the business development role as a training ground for quota-carrying reps, making them first have to prove their abilities in researching, prospecting and qualifying before they move onto deeper client relationship management.

The Role of Sales

Conversely, the role of sales is to close deals… and this is no easy feat. After receiving a qualified lead from a business development rep, the sales team are responsible for actually making the sale: hosting demos, presenting pitches, handling objections, drafting contracts and negotiating the best possible deal.

Some companies, especially those of smaller size, may have their sales reps also complete the functions of a business development rep. However, when the two roles are split, it gives sales greater capacity to build relationships with prospects and clients and close more deals. Time is money; the more qualified a lead when it is passed to sales, the less time and money wasted on dead-ends.

As mentioned above, a large part of the role of business development is to gather intel. While it’s still a big part of a sales rep’s role to continue this information gathering, there is a bigger emphasis on client relationships and strategic account management: building rapport and trust; convincing the prospect of your product’s suitability to solve their business pain and successful negotiation strategies.

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