Sales vs. Business Development (BD)

Have you ever wondered why some organizations prefer to say “Sales” over “Business Development”? I’ve had CEO’s tell me they prefer the word Sales over BD because it’s more specific and will attract individuals who aren’t afraid of a sales quota. Others believe using the word “Sales” in a title is too revealing and a potential turn-off to prospective government customers. Over time, we’ve developed even more titles for the sales profession like Relationships Manager, Account Manager, Strategic Development, Channel Sales, Partner Development, and Growth Director. If you’re not in sales, how do you make sense of all these differing titles and roles?

Defining Business Development
It’s important to understand what Business Development really means. Business Development is the over-arching process of managing sales, marketing, partnerships, and proposals. In reality, a “Business Development Director” should oversee and support the different go-to-market tasks. A BD Director should also be involved in the financial forecasting and work directly with management to predict near and long-term sales .

Defining Sales
I believe Sales is the most important component of Business Development. Sales Managers make phone calls, send emails, schedule meetings, develop white papers, send proposals, and ultimately close business. They work with their BD Directors to secure the necessary resources for success. They willingly accept the burden of meeting and exceeding a sales quota on an annual basis. A good sales manager is indispensable to an organization focused on aggressive year over year revenue growth.

Why This Matters
Believe it or not, there is a reason for spending an entire post solely on sales taxonomy. I’m finding more and more small businesses with a single sales resource labeled as a “Business Development Executive”. Business Development is a great concept but if you’re a small business you really need a Sales Manager. You need somebody pounding the streets and pressing the flesh of prospective customers. As you drive revenue and profits, you can begin building your overall Business Development Function. In order to develop business you must have a business; Sales comes first then Business Development.

Sara Coit