There are many ideas about these overlapping terms, but generally speaking sales is considered a subset of business development with business development considered more strategically focused and sales considered more tactically focused.  All sales is business development but not all business development is sales.  The nature of the buyer's buying process and the company's sales process dictates whether a product or services is brought to market through sales or business development.

Sales is more process driven selling pre-defined products and services or not so predefined products and services that are fairly limited in their flexibility or the boundaries of their flexibility are limited.  Business Development, on the other hand, is more about deal making and creating customized products and services or products and services customized in some other aspect of their transfer like terms and conditions, delivery conditions, post sales services.  Like many things, it is often most illuminating to look at examples.  While these are generalizations, here are some examples products and services and whether we consider them to be products and services that would be "sold" through a sales process or a business development process:

Item

Sales

Biz Dev

Why

Cars

X

 

You can choose color and options but you are limited in the ways you can modify the car and the ways you can acquire one

Ships

 

X

When you buy a ship, you are buying a ship to your specifications and each one is unique to the customers requirements

Cessna Single Engine

X

 

Like cars, a buyer of a small airplane has some features and options to choose from but doesn't have a huge range of possibilities

Boeing 787

 

X

Each customer (airline) can extensively modify the plane's interior, cockpit, power-plant in a very wide range of ways.

Legal Services

X

X

Both!  Home closing, simple divorce, simple immigration or patent and trade mark matters can be "brought to market" through a sales process.  More complex matters require a customized service and thus would be business development candidates.

Office PC Support Services

X

 

Nowadays, PC support services are generally quoted on the basis of the number of desktops supported and the applications supported.  There is little customized.


At Shaer Associates, we know the difference and we know how to help our clients create effective and profitable processes.