What Is Business Development and How It’s Different From Sales

What Is Business Development and How It’s Different From Sales?

Abhinav Girdhar
By Abhinav Girdhar | Last Updated on March 3rd, 2024 1:53 pm | 4-min read

Business development is the business function and process of identifying potential good-fit customers and building a relationship between a company and a solution for the sales team to eventually pitch and close. In simple words, the function of business development is to work through partners to sell to the end customer in a scalable way. Business development vs sales can be discussed vastly. Failing to distinguish between the two situations and the corresponding roles of the people hired result in unfocused market penetration, unpredictable sales cycles, unpredictable revenue forecasts, fluctuating revenues and processes that are impossible to repeat, optimize and scale. In this blog, we will see what is the difference between business development and sales?

Key features of business developer

  • Communication & Interpersonal Skills
  • Collaboration Skills
  • Negotiation & Persuasion skills
  • Project Management Skills
  • Research & Strategy
  • Business Intelligence

Key features of a good salesperson

  • Ability to Listen. A good salesperson needs to satisfy client needs
  • Empathy. A good salesperson feels what their customers feel
  • Sell that goes beyond the money like brand reputation
  • Competitiveness
  • Networking Ability
  • Confidence
  • Enthusiasm
  • Resiliency
What Is Business Development and How It’s Different From Sales

Differences between Sales and Business Development

  1. Scalability

    The role of sales is to sell a product directly to end consumers, whereas, business development’s role is to sell the product through a partner in a scalable way. Scalability is a key factor, as it allows businesses to utilize their sales staff or small groups created by partners to access the audience.
  2. Focus Vs. Execution of Plan

    Sales revolves around the identification of capacity. This is the reason why there is more sales staff in a company and keeps growing with time. The creativity of business development lies in recognizing partners that fit the description while identifying a course of action to offer value to the end customer of a partner.
  3. Size

    The function of business development is to identify how much a business will expand and where that expansion will come from, and then interpreting the approach through which it can be achieved. Sales develops a relationship with end-users to link them to a final product or service.
  4. Gathering Information Vs. Sealing the Deal

    Business development is responsible for collecting information about market leads and key problems. The initial planning and working should be based on gathering this data to come up with a concrete strategy.
  5. What Is Business Development and How It’s Different From Sales
  6. Expansion Vs. Distribution

    Business development managers look for ways to grow the business to increase revenue, and so they make strategies to expand the current market and find a new one. Sales managers, on the other hand, look after the distribution of products and services in the market and designate territories to sales representatives to achieve the pre-defined goals.
  7. Pricing and Inventory Management

    Business development is responsible for setting the price of a product or service. Sales managers also deal with manufacturers and distributors, but the purpose of their interaction is to ensure that enough stock is available to maintain a reasonable inventory level.
  8. Steering the Market Trends

    Market trends are changing from time to time, and there are multiple numbers of factors that trigger such variations. A business development manager has to make timely decisions and adjust the company’s products, services, and pricing accordingly as soon as they notice a variation in consumers’ demand or trends. On the contrary, consumer trends are on a regular basis observed by sales managers to determine how performance can be improved.
  9. Ability to Capture a Bigger Picture

    The effectiveness of a business development manager is partially based on the ability to see a bigger picture beyond his responsibilities and keeping his focus to achieve the targets defined by a business. The success of sales is based on the ability to be able to oversee a number of product outlets in various territories.

Why have separate business development and sales department

Reasons why your business will benefit by separating the roles of business development and sales are:
  • Creating domain expertise in your organization

    Creating an environment that accelerates the development of expertise is priceless for organizational benefits as you will be able to generate more leads and close more of them.
  • Individual productivity gains

    When you separate responsibilities of business development and sales within your organization, you are making individuals responsible for a limited set of goals. That elimination of multiple different types of goals leads to better individual productivity.


The degree of division between business development and sales will vary from organization to organization. However, in smaller companies, sales reps might be responsible for both sales prospecting and closing and that is extremely okay. But as you grow your business, separating and clearly defining the roles of the two teams will allow each of them to focus on what they do best, and help you reach new heights. Business development can be seen as a jack of all trades, but it should be noted that it cannot replace sales. In fact, a business will probably fail in the absence of a focused sales staff. Individuals working in the sales department possess different traits than those working in the business development department, for example, they can understand marketing techniques better than business development managers. If the purpose of the Business development representative is to bring the key elements of the business together, it is sales representatives who materialize the targets defined by the Business development representative. Although sales and business developments are different teams and functions, it's easy to see how important it is for both strategies to work in tandem. Effective selling isn't possible without dedicated business development, and business development relationship-building can only be done if a business has a solution and reputation for being able to help meet a need in the market. Small business owners are reaching out to their customers through apps built using Appy Pie’s App Builder. So, go ahead and create your own business app.

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Abhinav Girdhar

Founder and CEO of Appy Pie