If you ever wondered what the difference was between Sales and Business Development, here you go:
Sales = ABC (Always Be Closing)
Business Development = ABO (Always Be Opening)
The focus of business development is not to close as many sales as possible in the shortest time possible (no quotas here), but to build as many relationships as possible over time. In business development you are looking to open doors to create opportunity for the sales team to close sales.
These doors must be open or the sales team has less chance. Often, these relationships take years to nurture and are more than worth the trouble.
In reality, the two are very different.
The reason behind this, is that typical goals of business development include brand placement, market expansion, new user acquisition, and awareness — all of which are shared goals of marketing. The slight slide towards sales is simply because of the tactics business development employs to achieve those goals.
Which is where we get into the meat of it.
When you think about the function of business development, it should be thought of as a marketing function. Yes, there are some soft sales skills (qualification, negotiation, etc.) that are necessary to become a good business development professional, but at the end of the day, it’s a marketing function.
Simply stated, the function of sales is to sell directly to the end customer. The function of business development is to work through partners to sell to the end customer, in a scale-able way.
That last part is key.
Scalability is the differentiator. It allows a company to use a pre-existing sales teams or communities that a partner has developed to reach new audiences. Sales is very much an equation of capacity, which is why sales teams tend to grow so large. Business development teams, on the other hand, are typically very small, maintaining their small size by working through existing partner infrastructures. The art of business development comes in identifying partners that fit that description, while finding a way to provide value to the partner’s end customer and business.
You can see this relationship in a few of the examples I laid out in a previous post on the role of business development at a startup.
Now, all of this isn’t meant to devalue the function of sales. I really respect good salespeople. It’s an extremely difficult career, one with constant denial and pressure to succeed. Sales is hard, and should be respected when it’s done at a high level. when done smartly, the results are enormous and very rewarding.