Sales vs Business Development: Important Factors to Consider

March 13, 2022

Sales vs business development – what’s the difference? Sales is all about generating new business opportunities through building relationships and pitching your products or services. Business development, on the other hand, is focused on growing existing accounts and maximizing revenue from them.

This article will explain what sales vs business development means. We’ll also discuss common roles in both areas as well as what you should consider when hiring new employees for your business or department.

Sales vs Business Development

What is Business Development?

Many people disagree on the difference between business development and sales.

The business development team is responsible for finding new customers and growing existing customer relationships. They generate revenue by forming strategic partnerships, marketing the company’s products or services, or through other activities that add value to the company.

Business development is the process of identifying potential prospects within a company’s industry or outside it and establishing contact with them to explore growth opportunities.

Business developers have one goal: to build new relationships and to find opportunities that will lead to more revenue. Click To Tweet

Is business development sales possible? The answer is both yes and no.

Roles of Business Development Representatives

Large corporations often have dedicated business development teams, while smaller companies may share this role with other departments.

sales vs business development

Business developers typically have one of the following roles:

  • Itinerant business developer – They are focused on finding new prospects in outside markets and securing their interest to do business with your company.
  • Business Development Manager They are responsible for managing and cultivating relationships with prospects, often helping them to identify growth opportunities.
  • Corporate Sales Executive Their role is to meet potential clients in a company’s market area (or beyond it) and establish contact.

When the opportunity arises, business development representatives might also be involved in closing deals.

These business development titles are great for hiring.

  • Director of Business Development
  • Manager of Business Development
  • Vice President, Business Development
  • Business Development Specialist
  • Business Development Representative

These are just a few of the many titles that can be used for business development. Other companies might use other business development titles to attract new employees.

Here are some other names for business and creative job titles that can be used for business development.

  • Senior Account Executive
  • Strategic Partnerships Manager
  • B2B Corporate Sales
  • Strategic Alliance Specialist
  • Senior Solutions Consultant

These creative business development titles will help you attract candidates who are interested not only in “business development”, but also other job titles.

What is Sales Development?

Sales development is a department within sales teams that is highly specialized.

This function’s goal is to identify, engage with, and bring qualified leads to the pipeline for marketing or other departments that will work on converting them to customers.

Sales Development Representative Roles

These representatives have the goal of identifying, engaging in conversation with, bringing qualified leads into the pipeline for marketing and other departments to convert them into customers.

This person will use a variety of methods, including outbound calls, email campaigns, and social media outreach to connect with potential customers. They might also be responsible for developing relationships with customers.

sales vs business development

Here are some of the roles that a sales representative plays:

  • Generating leads through cold calls and emails 
  • Outbound sales activities are used to create new and qualified opportunities for the company. This person is responsible for creating a pipeline of potential clients and maintaining relationships with existing customers.
  • Engaging in conversation via phone or email outreach with prospects
  • Establishing partnerships with prospects through customer referrals and joint marketing campaigns.

To generate new business opportunities or to retain existing customers, organizations invest in sales development professionals. They often work as part of an outbound team, which works with marketing and other departments to convert potential customers into revenue.

Sales development specialists nurture potential customers through processes like lead generation, nurturing, closing, and closing. They often act as the first point of contact for prospects and clients, initiating conversations to build relationships.

These individuals keep in touch with prospective and current customers to share information about products/services that may be of benefit to them.

Here are some sales managers titles that may be used for business development and sales marketing.

  • Sales Account Advisors
  • Sales Account Executive
  • Assistant Store Manager
  • Client Advisor
  • Executive-level Management
  • Retail Sales Consultant
  • Sales Director
  • Telemarketer

A strong sales job title will help you find the best candidates to fill the position in sales business development.

If you want to attract the best talent, it is important to use the most relevant job titles for business development and sales. Titles such as “Business Developer” or “Sales Representative” are more likely to appeal to top candidates than titles such as “Marketing Assistant.”

Business Development Manager vs Sales Manager

There are two types of responsibilities: a business development manager and one that deals with sales.

Sales managers are judged on the number of sales they close within a time frame. Business developers focus on company growth and less pressure to generate income.

Because success isn’t solely measured by whether their team meets the quota, business development managers have more creative freedom. Sales managers are measured by the number of sales they generate.

A business development manager can offer a wealth of strategic advice to a company’s leadership team and help with critical decision-making that will impact its future. By providing an outside perspective, business development managers can help companies stay ahead of the competition and maintain a strong market position.

They are able to do this by having an in-depth understanding of the industry, as well as the latest trends and developments.

The compensation structure is one of the major differences between a business development manager and a sales manager. A business developer may be paid as a consultant while a sales manager is typically an employee. This can affect how each position is viewed within the company.

Sales managers often receive commissions or incentives to help meet their quotas and keep up with the rest of the company; however, business developers don’t typically have this type of incentive. The titles of these roles are another difference.

A business developer is most likely to be called “business Development Manager” or “vice President of Business Development”, while a sales manager may be called “sales manager”, “director of Marketing,” etc.

What Are The Key Differences In Sales And Business Development?

Managers, business owners, and sales and marketing professionals often view sales and development as one, umbrella-like system.

For many startups and new businesses, however, only a few key members are responsible for the success of the business.

  • Understanding and researching their target market
  • Connecting with potential buyers and finding them
  • Selling their products or services

Your business will grow, but your team will be less likely to have the time and in some cases the skills to focus on these areas.

Dedicated reps can be hired to perform different types of business development and sales activities. This will help your company grow and increase your financial success.

According to the Alexander Group, revenue growth management consultants, defining field selling roles has a direct effect on profitability and growth. Salespeople spend 39% more time on value-added activities when they have a clear role definition than if they are unfocused or generalists.

It’s important to understand the differences between sales and business development if your company is at or near the point where you can expand your team.

sales vs business development

So what’s the differences?

Put simply, business development comes first. It’s the act or generating qualified leads that you can pass on to your sales team. Business Development is all about generating leads. The most common job titles associated with business development roles are Business Development Rep (BDR), or Sales Development Rep(SDR).

Sales is second and is all about closing the deal with qualified prospects who come to your organization’s business development activities. Sales is all transactions. Titles for sales roles can vary, but they are often based around phrases like Account Manager, Sales Representative, or Account Executive.

It can also be difficult to decide which sales role (business development or sales) to hire first, or to hire more in the beginning stages of building a sales team.

As with most things in business, the answer is .

Once you have a clear understanding of the difference between sales and business development, it is time to ask yourself which one is more important in your organization. What role do you really need right now?

If you have clear market validation for your solution, and are consistently closing high percentages of the prospects you speak to, then you should hire a business development representative to train them in prospecting for the right leads.

If you have more qualified leads than you can handle, but don’t have the time or resources to follow up with each lead, schedule a meeting, demo, and close the deal, your focus should be to get more sales reps onboard who can help you close more of your hot leads.

Although it sounds simple, it can be difficult to reach this stage.

In the early stages of your business, or before you get funding as a startup, it’s normal for founders and other members to take on both sales-related responsibilities and business development. However, resources are limited before hiring sales staff.

It’s okay to be a founder-driven sales leader for as long as your revenue is growing.

As your business grows, you will need to make the distinction between the two roles more prominent and specialized.

How Does Your Sales And Business Development Teams Work Together?

Sales and business development complement each other. Together, they drive revenue strategy, sales, execution, and profitability in organizations.

There are many ways to make your message heard, from leveraging a partner’s prospect base to finding a way market more effectively to unlock new use cases to strengthening your position in existing markets.

However, sales and business development will look different in every company. Understanding the differences between sales and business development teams will make it easier for you to work together and maximize your strengths.

sales vs business development

How To Hire Sales And Business Developers?

Sales, marketing, business growth, lead generation: There are so many roles and so much potential for overlap, it can be easy to get lost in the process of building a sales or business development team.

It is important to remember that business development professionals usually handle the top-of-funnel activities while sales personnel typically work further down in the sales cycle and are more focused on closing.

The first thing you need to do is assess how your business is performing at each end of the sales process.

  • Are your closing deals consistent? Perhaps your sales team is a well-oiled machine but has trouble filling their pipeline with qualified leads. It may be time for a new set of business development reps.

  • Are your sales reps having difficulty following up with all the qualified leads that you have generated?

You should have a plan to find the right people for your sales and business development team, since they often work together to achieve growth goals.

For example, you might choose to focus on candidates who have demonstrated their ability to work in a team environment. You might also ask your team members to participate in group interviews and give feedback.

This brief list of key attributes will help guide you in creating your business plan.

What should you look for in a sales rep

Sales reps must have a strong desire for solving customer problems and a belief in the value of their solution.

Look for:

  • Excellent communication skills

  • A balance between confidence and approachability

  • Demonstrates time management and organizational skills

It is possible to acquire closing and selling techniques. It is important that the candidate you are considering has a willingness to learn and a genuine drive to help clients.

It may be easier to attract and keep top talent if you offer ongoing training and a competitive compensation plan that rewards reps who work hard and grow their accounts.

What to Look for in Business (and Sales) Development Reps

Business development reps must be able to think for the long-term and do work that may not always produce immediate results.

Look for:

  • Experience in sales or a talent for networking and social media

  • Knowledge of buyer personas, customer research and lead qualification

  • Ability to take initiative

Ideally, you should look to hire people who understand the value of relationship-building and who are excited to learn all they can about your solution and the benefits it offers.

It may be easier to attract and keep top talent if you offer a competitive wage, supportive work environment, and ongoing communication skills training. Click To Tweet


Sales vs business development are two important aspects of any company. It can be difficult to know which option will work best for you without understanding the differences between the two.

Before you can decide which company is best suited for you, it’s important to be able to objectively assess your company’s goals and needs.

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