The Business Development function is often confused with the sales function but there are quite a few important differentiators between the two that are vital to ensure a healthy growth strategy. Think of the Business Development professional as the inspector in a police force and the sales professional as the constable. The inspector works on the strategy for the case, joining the dots, and the constable goes on the chase to arrest the person.
Business Development starts with trying to strategise which markets would be best placed for the product the company is selling. This then leads to sourcing company names and budget-holding prospects. Typically Business Development Management is overseeing which direction the business is going to grow, planting the seeds for a healthy crop. They will typically have the first conversation with a prospect to see if there is an appetite for the product. Once this is the case, they will make an appointment for the sales team to go in with the nitty-gritty.
The sales team are the ones to offer the product or service to the customer. They probably haven’t been involved so much in the strategy behind ‘why this customer? Or why this market?’ but they will be responsible for getting them to sign on the dotted line and finalise the deal with that new customer.
It’s an important part of the sales process that these two functions have a different relationship to the potential new client. The Business Development role almost acts as a third party who is ideally seen by the potential customer as a more impartial member of the team, not directly trying to push them to the sale. This leads to a more open, honest and free speaking dynamic, but ultimately allows for the BD Manager to help gently guide them towards the next steps and ultimately speed up the sales process.
In many companies, these two roles, even though they follow one another, don’t communicate well. There is a distinct lack of passing the leads over with enough information and therefore revenue starts to drop. It’s incredibly important for both sides to collaborate to be able to seal the deal together and so even though they have different functions a smooth and communicative relationship between sales and BD is key.