Business Development vs Sales – What’s the Difference?

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It's that time, isn't it?

Time to evaluate what is and isn't working for your business.

Time to hone in on your business development plan's needle movers and target hitters.

You might be asking yourself, how can I:

  • Expand my business?
  • Improve sales?
  • Increase brand awareness?
  • Achieve sustainable business growth?

Well, it starts with learning the difference between business development vs sales.

They're both required for the healthy growth of your company, and they play very different roles with overlapping benefits.

It's like bowling. You need to hit all the pins, but it requires extra strategy if you're going to take out all of them in one go.

Ultimately, you need both for that perfect strike. And by strike, we mean a perfect balance of sales vs business development to expand your organization.


In this article, we'll discuss the critical differences between business development vs sales, and you'll leave with an impactful strategy to make sure you bowl a perfect strike.

What is Business Development vs Sales?

Business development vs sales development is the combined marketing efforts that include the horizontal growth of your brand and guarantee of continued transactional sales. They are necessary for identifying prospects and educating them on your products.

To put it in layman's terms: business development is ideas, goals, and marketing efforts that increase the value of your organization.

By enacting a strategy that combines business development vs sales development, you ensure the longevity of your organization.

Business Development

Business development lays the foundation for strategic opportunities that open new doors for your company. This can look like:

  • Finding new markets for goods and services
  • Pursuing partnerships or commercial relationships
  • Investing in your website
  • Creating long-term value for customers via branding
  • Creating content consistently online

Business development strategies are meant to support the continued expansion of your company.

A great example of business development is partnership opportunities advertised on company websites. Software platforms like Slack allow you to apply to become a partner on their main page.

The requirements to become a partner are based on a mutual offer of support. Slack receives donations or technical solutions from partners, and their partners receive discounts on software or other promotional opportunities.

Sales Development

Sales development is the discovery process for new buyers. It creates the pipeline for leads as they go through their buyer's journey. Sales development can look like this:

  • Research
  • Outreach
  • Prospecting
  • Advertising
  • Lead qualification

Sales development is meant to ensure that leads are nurtured until the close.

A great example of sales development is the lead qualification processes for advertisers. Companies spending large budgets on ads need to ensure a strong market product fit to guarantee sales.

They'll qualify leads by looking at their finances, budget, needs, and timeframe for purchase. This keeps CPAs low and conversion rates high and is crucial for sales development success.

Why are Sales and Business Development Important?

Business development and sales support each other when utilized effectively.

Sales will follow if you're creating lasting value in your business development efforts. If you're annihilating revenue targets and sales metrics, that will sustain business development efforts in the long run.

Business development and sales are the cornerstones of company growth.

They are equally important in strategic B2B marketing, but how you balance and implement them is up to you.

Types of Business Development vs Sales Development

Business Dev vs Sales Dev

There are different types of business development vs sales, and each brings a unique opportunity for expansion.

While there are no right or wrong processes, a few are standard growth marketing practices.

The main thing to remember is that both are structured to have overlapping benefits in the long run, whether inside sales or business development.

And those benefits are the buildup for a perfect strike.

Types of Business Development

So, here are some examples of the business development side of things daily:

  1. Partnership
  2. Investments
  3. Branding
  4. New Product Development


A union of people and ideas to expand and develop new products. In 2022, an estimated 82% of B2B businesses will pursue partnerships as a growth channel.

Partnerships rely on outside resources to succeed, so creating a proper business development strategy is essential. Examples of strategic collaboration include affiliate marketing, influencer marketing, and resell relationships in the SaaS industry.


Purchasing assets and expecting their value to increase or create a new income stream for your business. This can be done by investing funds into expanding your capabilities or directly into business development companies (like private equity firms).

Comcast is an excellent example of a company investing in long-term growth. In 2021, Comcast announced a $28 million investment into expanding its network. This increased delivery speed for internet and high-performance Ethernet solutions for nearly 7000 new businesses.


Branding combines your company's visual and social impact, supported by your marketing efforts.

Strong branding is valuable because it creates a lasting impression on your audience and can drive sales in the long run.

A great example of branding is MailChimp's 2017 campaign "Did you mean MailChimp?” When faced with their name constantly being mispronounced, they came up with a marketing campaign to address the discrepancy.

Significant results of the campaign included:

  • 988M media impressions
  • $3.52 million in earned media value
  • 67 million organic searches
  • Multiple awards in marketing and UX/UI discipline

It's safe to say effective branding goes a long way.

New Product Development

This covers creating new products and their journey to market, including identifying new audiences, building a prototype, and launching.

Take Instagram, for example. It started as a photo-sharing platform and has since released shopping integration, creator tools, and video playback functionality.

Since adding these new products, Instagram has grown from 27 million users and was acquired by Facebook in 2012 for $1 billion.

Types of Sales Development

Sales development is about optimizing your sales funnel and boosting your conversion rates. Companies can expect to see a 28% increase in revenue with it. You'll be left empty-handed, or worse, with a gutter ball without it.

The sales development process can look like this:

  1. Identifying new target markets
  2. Prospecting
  3. Outreach campaigns for lead generation
  4. Warming leads through follow-up conversations
  5. Inside sales and outside sales

And finally, you guessed it, the close.

The goal of the sales development process is to move leads through the sales pipeline effectively.

Main Differences Between Business Development vs Sales Development

Business Dev vs Sales

The main thing to remember is that business development supports sales development by creating a foundation for customers and business partners to engage with and invest in your brand. They work best when implemented together.

A solid sales development strategy means more opportunities to engage with your consumer base in a profitable way. A solid business development strategy means new prospects and investors are constantly added to the mix, increasing overall growth.

Here's a summary table of the main points.


Business Development

Sales Development


  • Business development representative (BDR)
  • Business development manager
  • Sales development representative (SDR)
  • Sales development manager

Growth Orientation

  • Horizontal growth
  • Transactional growth


  • Drawing more leads to the company
  • Finding more partners and investors for the company
  • Identifying and qualifying prospects in the initial stages of sales flow
  • Nurturing leads already in the pipeline and increasing conversion rates

Values of Sales Development vs Business Development

So, we've looked at how inside sales vs business development differ, but how does each one bring value to the table?

How do they affect business as usual when implemented correctly?

What's the impact of an integrated inside sales business development strategy?

Together, these bridge the gap between tangible ROI and the overall valuation of your company.

Value of Sales Development

The value of sales development is evident in both the potential it creates for companies and in the overall impact.

Potentially, sales development creates more opportunities for value to be added to the company. It creates measurable metrics to monitor and improve overall growth and encourages a better customer experience during the lead nurture stage.

The impact of this is more qualified leads leading to higher conversion and continued engagement with prospects throughout their buyer's journey.

This fuels the longevity of sales development efforts and supports nurturing existing customer relationships while creating new ones.

Value of Business Development

The value of business development is most evident in an organization's long-term growth and horizontal expansion.

Successful business development opens doors for partnership through networking, investing, and acquisitions. This can solidify your company's financial resources and create opportunities to reach new markets.

You can get new target audiences by investing in your branding as your company builds a better reputation. This can have a massive effect on the number of warm leads you can generate in the sales development.

Here are the key takeaways of the value of sales vs business development:


Value of Sales Development

Value of Business Development


  • Increased lead generation
  • Creates a better customer experience
  • More qualified leads
  • Identifies and creates lucrative partnership opportunities
  • Opens doors for investors to support the company
  • Creates networking opportunities


  • Increased conversion
  • Clear follow through for customer interactions
  • Allows marketing efforts to target existing customer relationships while balancing creating new ones
  • Strengthens branding and encourages greater brand awareness
  • Increased trust from the consumer base
  • Increased resources through partnership

6 Sales vs Business Development Strategies

Sales vs Business Dev Strategies

Now that we've covered the difference between business development vs sales, it's time to get serious about how to implement and integrate them effectively.

The best sales vs business development strategy will come down to these five things:

  • Thoroughly knowing your target market
  • Identifying key metrics to measure your success in that market
  • Capitalizing on partnerships to expand into new markets
  • Supporting sales with a standout branding foundation
  • Displaying authority in your niche

These five steps create the foundation for a balanced sales vs business development strategy.

Well, that and our favorite CRM to support you, of course.


3 Sales Strategies

These three strategies directly correlate to transactional growth.

  1. Cold Calling
  2. Invest in A SaaS Marketing Platform
  3. Track Metrics Religiously

1. Cold Calling

If there's one thing a sales development manager needs to have to be successful, it's the willingness to make the first move.

Cue a strategic cold calling strategy.

Cold calling is proactive, and while 62% of sales representatives say they hate it, it's still effective in 2022 because 82% of buyers join sales meetings that began with a cold call.

A successful cold calling strategy is persistence, especially for remote teams.

Remember, it's a number's game, where good leads and consistency are crucial to success.

2. Invest in A SaaS Marketing Platform

Investing in a SaaS marketing platform is one of the best ways to bring cohesion to your scale. It eliminates the hassle of individual outreach and can help keep your team in sync.

Some tools to consider are:

78% of small businesses invest in a SaaS platform. This trend is supported by the newfound increase in remote work and the SaaS market skyrocketing in recent years.

3. Track Metrics Religiously

According to Peter Druker: If you're not measuring it, you can't improve it.

He's right.

You should track your sales metrics religiously so that you can consistently improve. The data makes it easy to see what is and isn't working, so you can improve upon what's not working and bolster other areas to new heights.

Metrics you can track include:

  • Amount of qualified leads
  • Average time spent in the sales funnel
  • Success of different channels for prospecting
  • Conversion rate

3 Business Development Strategies

These three strategies correlate to business development in terms of authority building and expansion.

  1. Invest in SEO Content Marketing
  2. Pursue Partnership
  3. Expand into New Markets

1. Invest in SEO Content Marketing

Investing in SEO content marketing is one of the best ways to ensure you get noticed online. 60% of B2B marketers are using content strategy.

SEO-optimized content ranks online and builds authority with your audience, increasing trust and awareness. This has an overall effect of drawing in new audiences to your product and increasing visibility online.

2. Pursue Partnerships

Business partnerships are pivotal for gathering more resources and ensuring mutual growth.

Pursue partnerships by reaching out to your network. Update social media to show you're available for collaboration and connect with the right companies to discuss mutual objectives.

The main benefit of having a business partner is the shared skills, resources, and ideas that come with collaboration. 44% of businesses report using partnerships to inspire innovation and acquire new customers.

3. Expand Into New Markets

As you prioritize building your brand, creating quality content, and growing your team, you'll likely discover new markets.

The benefit of opening up to new markets is twofold: more prospects for your sales cycles and more space to build authority.

Expansion into new markets can be primarily achieved in three different ways:

  • Researching competitor markets and targeting them
  • Expanding sales presence to gain visibility with a new consumer base
  • Creating new products that solve problems in adjacent markets

It's best to support this strategy by getting feedback from your current customer base. This way, you have measurable data to inform your efforts.

Success in Balancing Business Development vs Sales Development:

Sales Development

We've discussed the difference between sales and business development, but what does it look like in action?

It requires a blend of innovation and strategy, so let's look at a recent startup that did it well.

Urban Sports Club was a fitness membership organization at an in-person gym until the pandemic hit 2020. Suddenly faced with remote accommodation as their only option, they quickly updated their business model to be fully online.

The business development side of this change included:

  • Partnership with Zengrowth for content marketing and paid advertising
  • Expansion into overlapping health markets like mental wellbeing
  • Content creation for new audiences

The combination of partnership and intentional expansion into new markets brought them greater visibility online and brand growth.

The sales side focused on:

  • Optimization of current and new sales channels
  • Clear KPIs for sales and marketing
  • Integrating a CRM to use past data to map their audience's customer journey

Here's a graph displaying the growth in marketing qualified leads they achieved with their sales vs business development strategy:

B2B Growth


The success of their combined strategy resulted in Urban Sports Club securing €80 millionin investment funding in 2021.

They've continued to run with their sales vs business development strategy, including investing in the future of hybrid sports models and partnering most recently with SevenGrowth to take their expansion even further.


“Sales vs Business Development: Which is better?”

Neither is inherently better than the other. By prioritizing business development, you create a lasting foundation for your business. By focusing on sales development, you keep your company in the green on the front end.

Both are investments in your organization's success, and they should be valued equally.

“What are the key roles in sales development?”

Key sales development roles include sales development representatives and sales development managers. They are often supported by sales closers and may have overlapping responsibilities.

“What are the key roles in business development?”

Key business development roles include business development representatives and business development representative managers. They are often supported by mp marketing and mergers and acquisition departments.


It's not enough to just build your brand and make sales. You have to support your marketing efforts with a combined inside sales vs business development strategy.

You can do this by:

  • Balancing sales efforts with brand growth
  • Integrating revenue goals with acquisition and partnership strategies
  • Syncing networking opportunities with growth objectives
  • Incorporating CRM software to track conversion metrics and improve outreach

The true value in an integrated business development vs sales strategy is its potential to create new income, partnership, and expansion opportunities.

And with Ringy, you can turn calls into customers furthering your business and sales efforts.

You can't afford to compromise on quality or functionality, and we wouldn't ask you to. That's why we built Ringy CRM—an automated sales team in your back pocket. A complete CRM at an unbeatable price geared to support your mission.

So don't hesitate to take an important step toward an effective business development vs sales development strategy and book your demo today.