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sales vs. business development

Sales vs. Business Development: What Are Their Differences?

Sales vs. business development: Sales oversees closing deals, while business development focuses on finding new business growth opportunities. Both bring revenue to your business in different ways and time frames.

Sales and business development are often seen as one entity for growing a company’s revenue and finding new markets. In some startups and small companies, the sales teams nurturing leads to become customers are also in charge of business development, looking for new growth opportunities.

As startups grow and scale, their sales teams cannot optimally perform both tasks. If you find your business at such a point, it’s crucial to draw a line between your sales and business development roles.

If you’re unsure about the differences between sales and business development, let this blog post help. It will discuss the following:

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What is sales development?

Sales development is a stage in the sales cycle focused on nurturing leads, so the team can close deals later. Your sales development representatives must know your offerings well to understand how your products or services can address your prospects’ pain points.

For example, let’s say you’re in the business of software as a service (SaaS) for veterinary clinics. Your sales development team is focused on nurturing your inbound leads generated from your website form.

Depending on the request of your lead, your sales development representative will run a demo of your software or discuss your product’s unique selling propositions (USPs).

What is business development?

Business development focuses on building long-term value for your business. Some steps to business development include:

  • Finding new growth opportunities for product development
  • Identifying new markets and sales opportunities
  • Forging strategic partnerships to expand your business’s reach
  • Streamline internal processes to increase efficiency and profits
  • Qualifying leads from different marketing channels and passing the sales-qualified ones to the sales team for closing

In our SaaS company example, your business development team can build long-term relationships with existing customers and business partners. This working relationship enables your business development rep to gather valuable insights that can fuel your strategies in:

  • Product development: What features would they like to see in your software in the future? What industry trends are shaping customers’ demands for products like yours? You can get input from your customers and business partners to improve your product.
  • Marketing: Business development teams can identify partnerships that can help increase your business’s reach.

Sales vs. business development: Differences between sales and business development

Now that we’ve discussed each definition, let’s go through the differences between sales and business development. It’s important to note that sales and business development strategies overlap because they work together for the same priorities:

  • Discover new customers
  • Grow sales revenue
  • Nurture customer relationships
  • Get into new sales territories

The table below summarizes their key differences:

Sales Business development
Focus areas Revenue growth by nurturing leads and closing deals Overall business growth plans spanning marketing, product development, sales, and internal processes
Key objectives Moving prospects through the sales pipeline and closing deals Looking for new customers and maintaining relationships with existing ones
Role in the sales cycle Following up, converting, and cultivating trust in qualified leads Passing qualified leads to sales reps
Responsibilities Understanding customers’ needs, pain points, and purchasing process, and employing selling tactics when there’s product fit Strategic planning, market development, and marketing-related research
Goals and timelines Achieve measurable sales goals in the short-term Achieve measurable business growth performance in the long term

Pro tip: If you want to grow your business, prioritize business development over sales. You can reap the benefit of increased sales once you have a streamlined process and a solid plan to generate and convert leads.

Why should sales and business development be separate?

As you grow your business and scale, separating your sales and business development teams is important. Here are a few reasons:

  • Sales and business development require different skills: Sales reps need negotiation skills to close deals. Meanwhile, business development reps must have a holistic understanding of their prospects’ businesses and industries and be excellent advisors.
  • Sales and business development have different focus areas: Your sales team is responsible for closing deals and meeting sales targets. Meanwhile, business development reps qualify leads and look for other growth opportunities. Having multiple targets to meet may drive your team members to choose one. If meeting their sales targets comes with incentives, they might focus on closing deals instead of qualifying leads.
  • Sales and business development have different responsibilities in different stages of the sales cycle: Merging responsibilities from various stages of the sales cycle may confuse your team members. For example, instead of qualifying leads, they might jump on the opportunity to close the deals immediately. It’s essential for business development roles to manage inbound leads by qualifying them before passing them to sales for closing. On the other hand, sales roles must focus on closing deals and maintaining relationships to keep leads warm.

Pro tip: Though sales and business development roles are separate, it’s important to align both.

Both teams must agree on what makes a lead sales-qualified and ready for the stage in the sales pipeline. They must also be aligned regarding your business’s ideal customers.

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Ready to streamline your sales and business development processes?

Your sales and business development teams are essential in growing revenue and scaling your business. If you need help streamlining your marketing, sales, and business development processes, let WebFX help.

We are a full-service digital marketing agency with over 28 years of experience driving results for our clients from various industries, from tech businesses to medical companies. Our team of 500+ experts is excited to learn about your business, industry, and competitors, so we can help you streamline your marketing, sales, and business development processes.

Contact us online or call us at 888-601-5359 to speak to a strategist about our digital marketing services!

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