The Difference Between Sales and Business Development

The Difference Between Sales and Development

Last April, Andrew Dumont wrote a helpful article explaining some of the differences between sales and business development. Just like Andrew, we regularly find ourselves explaining what these differences are. He writes, “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.

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Address Customer Concerns


Never, ever, ever, ever, work with a company you don't feel comfortable with, ever.

We speak to people every day about their business development needs. Most people have a number of concerns about working with any new company. How can we blame them? Customers are entitled to be concerned. There is a “sea” of companies that claim to do all kinds of things big and small. It has always been a challenge for our customers to delineate who will deliver and who will not. If you have never worked with us before, we appreciate that you will have concerns and we will do everything we can to address them.

If you have a concern, frankly express it! We will address it, preferably in writing. We make every effort to treat a customer’s investment in our company as if it was our own. That is how we would like to be treated, why not treat our customers that way? We like to speak frankly and openly about what we are up against when it comes to your business development initiatives. The work we do is not easy. It takes creativity, professionalism, and determined effort. Communicating what is involved openly with our customers helps them to see that we are not blowing smoke, but working together to accomplish a goal.

For years, vendors have been attempting to earn customer trust by providing some kind of “guarantee” when they really are not in the position to provide one honestly. Example…. Have you ever been “guaranteed” the first page of Google™ organically when it is impossible to guarantee something outside their control, in this case the Google™ search algorithm? Guaranteeing placement is a lie, period. Never guarantee things that are outside of your control to earn a customer’s business.

Stop Saying ASAP

Business Development
We are big fans of the book, “Rework” written by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hannson.

One of our favorite excerpts from the book carries the theme:

ASAP is poison.

It reads this way: “Stop saying ASAP. We get it. It’s implied. Everyone wants things done as soon as they can be done. When you turn into one of those people who adds ASAP to the end of every request, you’re saying everything is a high priority. And when everything is a high priority, nothing is. (Funny how everything is a top priority until you actually have the prioritize things.) ASAP is inflationary. It devalues any request that doesn’t say ASAP. Before you know it, the only way to get anything done is by putting the ASAP sticker on it. Most things just don’t warrant that kind of hysteria. If a task doesn’t get done this very instant, nobody is going to die. Nobody’s going to lose their job. It won’t cost the company a ton of money. What it will do is create artificial stress, which leads to burnout and worse. So reserve your use of emergency language for true emergencies. The kind where there are direct, measurable consequences to inaction. For everything else, chill out.