Getting confused with the concepts of sales and business development is not a surprise because the two business activities are closely related to each other. Sales is entirely about selling products and services to the ultimate consumer. The key objective of sales is to generate revenue. On the other hand, business development is the process of taking the business forward by identifying new markets and formulating a relationship between the products and the target market.

In this article, we will explain the the terms sales and business development in detail and discuss how they differ from one another.



Sales refer to the selling of products and services of a company to the customers, within a particular time period and at a specified price. It is all about generating revenue and gaining market leadership. The main objective of a sales function is to finalize a deal after a qualified lead has been identified by a business development team.

The sales department of an organization mainly concentrates on transforming shoppers into buyers by establishing a relationship with the customer. Sales representatives are fully aware of the consumer market and try to offer solutions to the problems faced by consumers. In addition, those performing the sales function are skilled in the act of “persuading”. They are experts is converting potential customers into actual customers. However, in the present times, the sales function is not very easy because customers now have several options to choose from. It has become challenging for the sales personnel to convince customers to buy their product from the wide variety of alternatives.

Business development

Business development essentially refers to the activities carried out to expand the operations of a company by entering into new markets. Its objective is to attain and exceed the revenue and developmental objectives of an organization.

Business development refers to the creation of long-term value for the company, which is acquired from customers, markets and strategic business relationship. It denotes the ideas and activities that increase the effectiveness of the business. Its aim is to develop a relationship with its strategic partners, who then increase the sales of the company by providing the product or service to the potential consumers.

The process of business development includes various activities that focus on developing and pursuing growth opportunities in the market. It focuses on expanding the business by entering into new markets, establishing partnership, adding value to the existing consumer base and taking strategic decisions.

Business development focuses on taking timely decisions to modify the products and services being provided by the company in accordance with the changing business environment. It tries to gather as much information as possible about the market leads, trends and major issues so as to develop a suitable solution.

Difference between sales and business development

The key points of difference between sales and business development are listed below:

1. Meaning

Sales refer to the direct interaction between the representatives and the potential customers to compel them to buy the product/service that the company is offering at a specified price. In contrast, business development refers to the activities carried out to determine strategic opportunities for the company by establishing partnerships with other companies.

2. Nature

Sales is transactional in nature as it involves transactions between the company and the customer. Business development is, however, relational in nature as it pertains to the establishment of strategic associations between two entities.

3. Objective

The main objective of sales is to generate revenues by selling the products or services of the company. Hence, sales is a customer-oriented activity. Business development, however, does not directly concentrate on selling products; rather, it focuses on establishing strategic partners who offer products to different market segments, which increases the customer base of the company.

4. Focus

The focus of sales is on the distribution of goods and services to the actual customer, while business development concentrates on the growth and expansion of the business.

5. Key function

The key function of sales is to sell products, whereas that of business development is to sell solutions to customers/clients.

6. Term

The aim of a sales department is to generate sales in the short-run, whereas business development leads to the creation of long-term sales for the company.

7. Responsibility

The sales team is responsible for monitoring customer trends so as to determine their requirements and how they can be fulfilled. The business development team is responsible for gathering as much information as possible regarding market leads, market trends as well as main issues being experienced so that appropriate solutions can be developed.

Sales vs business development – tabular comparison

A comparison of sales and business development in tabular form is given below:

Sales vs Business developing
The process of recognizing potential customers, reaching out to them and compelling them to buy the products/services of the company Creating long-term value for the company by establishing relationships with the strategic partners
Transactional Relational
Generate revenue by selling products/services Establishing strategic partnerships
Distribution of products and services to the customers Expansion of the business
Key function
Sell products Sell solutions
Time duration
Short-term sales Long term-sales
Monitor customer trends Monitor market trend

Conclusion – sales vs business development

To sum up, it can be asserted that both sales and business development are important functions of an organization. Business development is the process of identifying potential new markets and forming a relationship between a company and its customers. The sales team then pitch on the opportunities recognized by business development and close the deal. Hence, sales is the process of generating revenue for an organization by finalizing deals with customers.

It has been explained in this article that sales and business development are distinct teams and processes, and it is not possible for one to function without the other. It is possible to perform effective selling only when there is a dedicated business development team that has identified and established the targets. The sales team has specific skills and attributes that helps in achieving these targets. In a similar way, business development can only be carried out when the organization is known for coming up with solutions and fulfilling the need in the market.