Business Development Vs. Sales | 4 mins read

Business Development Vs. Sales- What's the Difference?

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Hanh Truong

By Hanh Truong

Introduction to Business Development Vs. Sales

Entrepreneurs oftentimes associate sales and business development as the same process. However, these two practices are very distinct from one another. Understanding the key differences between business development and sales will allow for focused and effective growth strategies.

Business Development Vs. Sales

Business development is the act of pinpointing, attracting, and obtaining customers in the market. Whereas, sales is the process of closing deals and generating profits. Despite their differences, business development and sales are complementary, meaning they work well together.

For example, business development teams will help companies find ideal target consumers, which marketing campaigns can emphasize. After acquiring leads through advertisements, sales representatives can engage with them and finalize sales. To ensure these processes work well together, business leaders should be aware of their distinct factors.

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Specialized Roles

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Business development teams are often referred to as business development reps (BDR) and sales development reps (SDR). These entities are responsible for researching consumer markets and prospecting, which is the practice of searching for potential customers. After finding qualified leads, the representatives send them to the sales team.

On the other hand, sales teams' duties include showcasing the value of a product or service. After receiving qualified leads, sales representatives will focus on closing deals. This oftentimes entails answering prospects' questions and performing product demos. Sales reps also have to draft contracts and follow up with customers after their purchases.

Strategy Focus

Business development and sales teams have different focuses when it comes to creating growth strategies. Business development staff members emphasize the use of technology to reach customers. This includes adopting digital tools, such as websites and social media, to use as a marketing channel. For example, business developers may use Facebook to publish posts and paid advertisements to attract consumers.

In contrast, a sales team's focus is on the brand's product and services. Representatives in the sales departments are responsible for interacting and informing customers about how to use a product, how to leverage services, and what the value of these products or services is. Sales strategies will emphasize ways in which the brand can promote product knowledge accessibly and easily.

Job Requirements

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Job requirements for sales and business development careers will vary from company to company. It will generally differ due to business resources and project necessities. Some essential skills that these teams will usually require include the following.

Business Development -

  • Creativity
  • Public speaking
  • Research skills
  • Oral and written communication skills
  • Experience with digital tools, such as content management systems and social media channels
  • Organization
  • Ability to multitask and manage more than one project
Sales -
  • Ability to build relationships
  • Strong communication skills
  • Detail-oriented
  • Customer service experience
  • Ability to work in a quick-paced environment
  • Experience with sales

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Job Titles

Job titles for individuals working in business development include business development representatives and sales development representatives. They may also be referred to as itinerant business developers, business development managers, and corporate sales executives. Sales teams will commonly have account managers, account executives, and sales representatives. Again, these titles will vary depending on a company's structure, size, and resources. Other roles for business development and sales teams include the following.

Business Development -

  • Strategic Partnerships Manager
  • Business-to-Business (B2B) Corporate Sales
  • Senior Solutions Consultant
  • Strategic Alliance Specialist
  • Director of Business Development
  • Business Development Manager
  • Business Development Specialist
Sales -
  • Sales Associate
  • Sales Manager
  • Sales Consultant
  • Sales Account Executive
  • Client Advisor
  • Retail Sales Accountant
  • Sales Director
  • Assistant Store Manager
  • Telemarketer


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Activities that business development teams take part in generally entail providing customers with product or service information. This task emphasizes showcasing a company as a solution to a prospects' pain points. Other activities include giving advice to customers, cold calling, and sending newsletters via email.

Whereas sales activities usually involve leading customers to a final sale. Practices for a sales team emphasize nurturing relationships with prospects and customers. Therefore, sales representatives will follow up with customers, assess their needs and budgets, and maintain ongoing contact.

Key Takeaways to Business Development Vs. Sales

  • Entrepreneurs oftentimes associate business development with sales.
  • Business development and sales, however, are two distinct concepts that work well complementarily.
  • Business development is the process of finding and acquiring potential customers in the market.
  • Sales is the process of generating sales by finalizing deals and purchases.

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