Business Development Vs Sales Development

Are Sales Development and Business Development different things?

Most organizations and sales teams see both the disciplines as just two ways geared towards the same activity.

These two are two inconspicuously varied skills, and shouldn’t be considered synonymous job functions.

So, business development vs sales development.

What is the difference?Business Development refers to a series of activities involved to penetrate into a new market. The BD team finds other businesses to connect with and partner that can push your products to their customers.

Besides this responsibility, the new business development reps (BDRs) are also entrusted with the job responsibility of actively researching, prospecting and qualifying leads and then pass on these sales qualified leads (SQLs) to the sales teams for calling and closing.

Business Development Vs Sales Development

So What’s Sales Development all about then?

If you’re not familiar with it already, the ABCs of sales are not for apples and balls but ‘Always Be Closing’.

Though they might do a bit of qualification themselves, when a BDR passes on a qualified lead to the sales team, the main responsibility of a sales rep is to close deals.

Product demos, in-person consultation, contract preparation and answering product objections, all fall under the job role of a sales rep.

Why this difference?

The ever evolving consumer behavior is most often seen as the trigger reason for segregating the two teams.

As with the advent of technological revolutions, it’s increasingly becoming difficult to reach buyers. Having two specialized teams work on the same lead for gathering better lead intelligence and finally close the deal is a smart move no matter how you see it.


Social selling evangelist, Jill Rowley says, “Nobody wants to be prospected.” This shift in buyer behavior help sales-driven organizations focus on the customer life cycle and long-term relationship building strategy. Reaching a buyer today calls for a smart strategy and even smarter sales people.

Hence, an organization needs to dig in deep about their potential customers, have multiple touch points for a single lead. And for this, most smart companies have segregated their sales cycle into business development (or sales development) and sales teams to maximize closing efficiency.

Let’s face it, it’s nothing but unreasonable to have your smartest sales people wasting their valuable time researching and scouring leads online. Lead qualification is not a cakewalk even if it may seem so in theory. By separating these two teams, the time consuming prospecting process can be well attended by the BDRs and sales reps who are champions in the area.

Are the roles similar?

The answer is both – yes and no.

Though both the roles might apparently seem dissimilar in their routine activities, there exists a huge need for both the roles to be in absolute synergy with each other. The SDR and sales rep must have a clear understanding of their target audience; their goals, challenges, pain points, and should be able to identify if the product is a good fit for their needs or not.

So, when is the right time for a transfer?

This differs from organization to organization. It’s important to have a clear definition of SQL established within the organization. You can use any of these frameworks like BANT, ANUM or GPCT to do so.

There are a few points to consider before leads are passed on to a sales rep:

  • Validate if you’re conversing with the decision maker or not.
  • Whether the prospect you’re talking to has a need or is a good fit for your product.
  • Whether your product can fix his/her pain points.
  • To measure their readiness to buy, it’s rational to find out whether they might require your product in the near future.
  • Whether the prospect has the budget for your product or not.

Listening is key in the lead qualification process. It’s vital to keep informing prospects about the product details so that you don’t stumble on any potholes later on. The sales rep’s call should not be the first call to the prospect.

How does the call quality differ?

A BDR’s job is to dig all the viable details about the prospect’s job role, pain points, goals, challenges or need for the solution. A few initial conversations should only revolve around collecting and collating this information.

A sales rep’s call should be an extension of the BDR’s call with the goal now, to close the deal. While BDR needs to find out the demographic and other explicit information about a prospect, a sales rep needs to persuade the prospect about :

  • Value proposition
  • Product/vendor comparison
  • Schedule a demo
  • Pricing plans
  • Implementation process
  • Terms of the contract
  • Renewal policy

However, as mentioned before, this whole process varies from company to company. In some smaller organizations, sales reps are involved with both prospecting and closing. But as the organization grows, it’s imperative to segregate the two teams and build a sustainable sales development and conversion model. 

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