If you ask a group of business people to define what they think business development is, you will probably get a few different answers. Some people use the terms business development and sales interchangeably, while others consider them to be completely different.

Business development involves a considered and holistic approach which includes business strategy, marketing, customer management, and partnerships. To use a golf analogy, the business development team is the caddy and the sales team is the golfer. The business development team is responsible for getting the sales team to the right golf course, setting them up on the first tee, advising on the weather conditions, where to hit the ball and how hard to drive it off the tee. They then hand the club to the sales team who hit the ball and try to get it to the hole with a minimum number of shots.

So, does business development have something to do with sales? Yes, it does. Is it related to business growth? Yes absolutely. Does it have anything to do with business strategy? Very much so. Business development is a culmination of these different activities but most importantly, it’s all about considering things from the client’s perspective. Why would they buy from your firm? What is the benefit to them of doing so? How can you ensure that they have a superior experience with your firm than they would with your competitors? The client only cares about the problem they are currently facing and is only interested in your firm if you identify a need/problem that you can solve and provide a solution for. It’s all about the value that you can provide to the client, at a cost that they consider to be acceptable.

The goal of business development is to create a partnership which is based on value. It entails cultivating a relationship with the client and providing a product or service that could result in an ongoing relationship, whether that is by way of repeat purchases or referrals from the client. In summary, business development is all about developing relationships with customers, creating a strategy that adds value for your clients and which works in tandem with your sales team. In contrast to this, sales on its own, is more transaction oriented.

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