The Difference Between Sales and Business Development

The Difference Between Sales and Business Development

Almost daily, I run into the misconception that the function of sales and business development are interchangeable, from co-workers to industry peers. This stems primarily, I believe, from the shift in titles of salespeople to business development — which has been done in an effort to avoid the negative connotation that surrounds it.

In reality, the two are very different. Hence, this tweet.

Andrew Dumont


If you use the terms Business Development and Sales interchangeably, you’re doing it wrong.


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But 140 characters just isn’t enough to explain of the subtleties, so here we are.

When you think about the function of business development, it should be thought of as a marketing function. Yes, there are some soft sales skills (qualification, negotiation, etc.) that are necessary to become a good business development professional, but at the end of the day, it’s a marketing function.

If you were to think about it on a sliding scale between a pure function of sales or marketing, it would wind up somewhere around here.

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The reason behind this, is that typical goals of business development include brand placement, market expansion, new user acquisition, and awareness — all of which are shared goals of marketing. The slight slide towards sales is simply because of the tactics business development employs to achieve those goals.

Which is where we get into the meat of it.

Regardless of the company, business development tends to hold the same structure, which I sketched up quickly below.

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Simply stated, the function of sales is to sell directly to the end customer. The function of business development is to work through partners to sell to the end customer, in a scalable way.

That last part is key.

Scalability is the differentiator. It allows a company to use pre-existing sales teams or communities that a partner has developed to reach new audiences. Sales is very much an equation of capacity, which is why sales teams tend to grow so large. Business development teams, on the other hand, are typically very small, maintaining their small size by working through existing partner infrastructures. The art of business development comes in identifying partners that fit that description, while finding a way to provide value to the partner’s end customer and business.

You can see this relationship in a few of the examples I laid out in a previous post on the role of business development at a startup.

Now, all of this isn’t meant to de-value the function of sales. Truth be told, I really respect good salespeople. It’s an extremely difficult career, one with constant denial and pressure to succeed. Sales is hard, and should be respected when it’s done at a high level.

But the two are very different, despite their apparent overlap.

What is a project manager ?

What is a project manager ?

A project manager is the person in charge of communicating the most effective plan to all teams involved in a project. This allows projects to be structured, tasks divided among teams and for accountability to be correctly assigned.

This is a relatively new model and it comes from a number of project management professionals who came up with methodologies that you could use. These helped create what is now project management. It is a growing profession, which many companies see as essential to their productivity and success.


Project manager day-to-day basis?


As mentioned above, the project manager role is an essential component across a countless number of industries and project types, meaning the day-to-day specifics often vary widely depending on the role’s context. However, there are several tasks shared by nearly all project managers.

Relay information about the projects progression to the appropriate parties

Keep on top of reporting and the financials of the project.

Keep on track of tasks completed, who they were completed by and if this was on time.

Liaise between various contractors and keep coordination levels high.


What personality type?

There are three main areas of importance.

Outgoing – able to keep communicating with everyone and ensure that all parties are aware of any changes and requirements.

Analytical – Are able to use prior experience to gauge if the project is on track and fix things if it seems to be increasing in scope or delaying.

Organised – A project manager should be able to organise teams effectively and be the POC between all the teams.  


A good trait to have is the ability to learn from your mistakes – In every project there is usually minor setbacks and delays, these can be unavoidable delays due to contractors not delivering goods or services, it can even be delays caused to weather of finances. But a good project manager will be able to learn from mistakes and delays and avoid them in future projects.


How do i become a project manager?

Most people find themselves in a project management role by surprise. Doing a great job as a project contributor can often lead to finding yourself in charge. If you haven’t had any experience as a project manager then i can’t think of any better motivation to excel during your next project. If you have some experience and want to move on with your career, you can find some great Project Manager job opportunities from Emperic.