Sales vs business developmentIt is important to be cognisant that making sales does not equal business development. Sales are only a part of the “biz dev” picture. With business development, you achieve the delivery and goals of your business strategy through customer-winning differentiation. Sales is, at its core, a short-term listen and pitch technique. The salesman listens for some key buying signals and then tweaks his ‘pitch’ to include those and tries to close the deal expeditiously. Business development frequently has a deeper involvement with the client to the point of working on the sales strategy with the client for onselling to their customers. This would be when an experienced business development specialist would introduce or forge new methods to achieve this. Through this process and subsequent processes, the successful creative solutions will lead to new “projects” with the client that could involve new products, new pricing and new approaches to handle them. This is not to say that selling is unimportant. Sales is a singular tool within the complex toolbox of business development and has a niche, important function. The government’s national careers website proposes that a business development manager would require these skills:
- The ability to sell products and services
- Knowledge of the English language and/or additional languages if you are an expat abroad
- The ability to use your initiative
- Leadership skills (see our Human Relations Management Theory Basics article
- Maths knowledge
- Customer service skills
- Business management skills
- Strong ambition with a drive to succeed
- Computer literate with additional literacy in business development software
Foundational business development skillsTo become a business development specialist, it is important to have superior foundational business development skills in 7 areas.
- Actively engage in ongoing conversations with others in the organisation.
- Ask open-ended questions and soak up the responses. Listen with your mind.
- Be observant of current challenges.
- Be observant of matters, topics, or actions that are of great importance to an individual’s pride, honour, or reputation.
- Make an effort to dig deeper to understand the issues truly.
Business Development skills, knowing how and when to use themKnowing when to use your skills is the key to leveraging the impact of your business development. For example, you need to be aware of when to sit and listen or when to rise to a challenge and provide leadership to move the process forward. Customer meetings conducted by a business development executive who does not listen will fail, regardless of how good the offered solution is. A combination of learning and a high level of self-awareness is powerful, but self-improvement is also a big part of the journey to success. Lastly, techniques deliver success when you are prepared and have planned how you are going to work with your potential customer. At Business Advice, we pride ourselves in consistently being leaders in business development skills. Learn more on our site today!
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