Is business development really any different to sales?

There’s a thin line between sales and business development, but as thin as it is – it exists.

Sales and business development are not the same thing and here’s why; sales is a part of business development, but business development usually involves a whole lot more.

‘In it for the long haul’
Whilst sales can encompass anything from cold calling right through to closing a deal where a client has come to you directly, there is far less emphasis on the long-term.  Sales people are empowered to do a good job, by being pressured to move onto the next one – it’s a strange thing to say, but it’s true.  It’s almost the total opposite with business development; once a sale is closed, keeping the relationship going will remain your responsibility.

Business development bread and butter
Pursuing opportunities is the bread and butter of business development.  What I mean by this is, whether you’ve met someone at a networking event and have no business interest at the moment, keeping them as a contact may pay dividends in the future.  For example, they could get to really understand what you do and refer you to one of their clients, or someone else they’ve met networking, because by now they’ll know what real value you can add to another business.

Business development is also about being there.  I don’t mean in the sense of a shoulder to cry on – I mean showing up at every industry and location related event going.  Getting your name out there as being a real representative of the company you’re trying to develop business for.

Tactical positioning
Finally, business development is about positioning.  Yes, sales is too – taking things like pricing and promotions into account – but business development is the long game.  As such, it means that the people you’re talking to will tend to get to know more about the intricacies of what your business does or sells.

Think of someone you’ve met once at a networking event and try to explain what they do, in detail.  Now, think of someone you’ve met four or five times and explain their business.  I’ll be surprised if there’s not a lot more that you can say about the second person’s business, but also about the way they do business and even about what they and their business stands for – how they have positioned themselves.

This is where long term value comes in and where the magic of business development happens.

Making business development second nature
For assistance with a business development strategy, business development training or positioning in terms of where your business development team should be pitching your business, get in touch.  I could sing the praises of business development all day, but also have an expert ‘on the ground’ knowledge and experience of sales management, so would be happy to have a chat about how I might be able to help you (as part of a long-term commercial relationship and business development strategy – because I practise what I preach!).