15 Jun No, BD is NOT the same as Sales
I can’t tell you how often I hear, “well, we hired this Sales guy, and he just isn’t working out.” Well, I say, perhaps it’s because what you need is a Business Development professional, not a Sales professional.
And, no, they are not the same.
People often think about selling any product or service through the lens of the traditional “lone wolf” Sales model – a person operating more or less independently, and who most likely works on commission. It may be oversimplified, but I tend to describe sales as “transactional” – selling products or services to customers that require little customization, with the intention and focus on closing the deal.
Business Development, on the other hand, is about expanding relationships, partnerships, and markets. People who excel at BD are not the same people who excel at Sales. BD often requires hiring someone who is consultative in nature, who enjoys the sometimes lengthy process of understanding and educating partners and prospective clients, and has the humility to hand off or introduce the client or partner they’ve cultivated to someone else to close the deal.
For that reason, we work with clients to think about not just the competencies required, but also the soft skills needed in their BD professionals. Willingness to collaborate with other team members, humility, and relationship cultivation and management are important personality characteristics that should be screened for when making any BD hire.