Sales and Business development: is it the same?

According to our observations, companies from different countries and industries often confuse sales with business development. Indeed, is this the same?
From our experience and perspective, we are convinced that slaes and business developments are different activities.
Why? Sales are believed to be more transactional and related to existing clients. With the same, business developers always look for new opportunities in the market with both existing and new customers and segments. They also literally “build bridges” between sellers and buyers. Business developers assure that these bridges of relationships are getting stronger and more reliable with time. Buyers are getting committed to buying from sellers in this case.

What does it mean in practice? For example, a company starts an internationalization process or decides to penetrate a new market. It usually takes time to establish local relationships, build trust with counterparts, promote the product, and then “grow” loyal clients. Sales, in this case, would be a product of business development in a new market. Even if a local agent or business developer has needed social capital (an established network of buyers), it still takes a lot of time to promote new opportunities to these connections.

Companies that expect immediate sales in a new market (especially for technologies and complicated products or services) usually are not experienced enough. Some of them create amazing products but they don’t know how to offer them to the clients in a new area. It would be right to say here that companies that do market research in advance to understand the local rules of the game are usually much more successful in business development and consequently sales.

In conclusion, business development plays a strategic role in opening new markets for companies. It goes beyond immediate sales transactions and involves a comprehensive approach that identifies untapped potential, formulates strategies, and drives long-term growth. By investing in business development, companies position themselves for success, capitalize on emerging opportunities, and establish a strong presence in new markets.



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