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No matter the role, identifying what success looks like allows an individual to perform their best.

Contributor: Kathryn Freeman, NCG Business Coach & Director of Operations 

It’s that time of year with the businesses that we coach here at Nolan Consulting Group;  we are planning for the new year,  developing budgets and capturing Big Rocks, those items that we will need to complete in order to consider the year a success.  It’s at this time that I am often asked the question as part of organizational planning, “what is the difference between a Business Developer (Biz Dev) and a Sales Person?”  A simple question that has a somewhat complex answer.  Because on the surface, they are one and the same, but dig a little deeper and you are faced with some real differences. 

First, let’s start with the similarities.  Behaviorally, both the Sales Person and Biz Dev Person have high I’s.  As a reminder, for those unfamiliar with DISC language, a high I uses influence to persuade someone to their way of thinking.  In this case, the thinking that your business is the best one in your area to work with! Bond & Rapport is essential in Biz Dev as it is the skill that maintains relationships leading to future business.  In a sales rep, Bond & Rapport allows for a smoother, direct ask of a customer, in this case the short sales cycle.  

Similarities also include being held to a goal.  No matter the role, identifying what success looks like allows an individual to perform their best.  But it is in the goals that we start to see the differences emerge.  This is where we look to behaviors to understand how someone is doing in their role. 

Goals for a sales person may be easier to identify and can include:

  • Win ratio
  • Average sale
  • Revenue per labor hour generated
  • Gross profit

Goals for a biz dev look a little different but are still measurable:

  • Clearly defined target relationships- companies, people, territories, etc
  • Networking events attended   
  • New leads in your CRM
  • Request for Proposals submitted by new sources
  • Outbound or Cold Calls made

With sales goals, we are looking at short term successes, ones that will have a direct and immediate impact on the field and on profitability.  Sales is about closing deals. With a biz dev person, it’s about behaviors and activities.  And we are looking at a bigger up front financial commitment, both in salary and in networking events and activities.   

One challenge for sales management is the different behaviors needed in sales vs. development.  In a sales role, we would typically look for a high D;  this behavioral style is direct and decisive.  In a short sales cycle it is someone who will be comfortable with asking for the sale, avoiding the trap of not talking money.  In biz dev, we might look for someone with a higher I, who WILL protect a relationship.  How this manifests itself is in the development of long term relationships, where you become the go to business to supply your client with your unique services.  The behaviors here are influence and direct, one style supporting the other.  

But back to the planning question…

A biz dev person will be a bigger financial commitment at the outset.  It’s likely this individual might not bring in significant revenues until 6, 9 or even 12 months into the job.  Which is why we say set out goals that can determine success.  Make the goals SMART goals: Specific, Motivating, Attainable, Relevant and Trackable.  Are they making the right connections, are they meeting new clients, are the goals set realistic in the given timeframe.  In addition to the salary, make sure that you are planning for a budget that will include “golf outings” or “networking events” or similar, virtual or otherwise.  

It also makes sense to arm current sales people with goals to develop their own future business.  In a business not quite large enough to make the leap for a full time biz dev role, block off time on your sales teams’ calendars for development activities around the above goals.  This starts your business development long before you hire for the role.  Work with your coach to create a Prospecting plan with your team.  Wage the War on Winter and start your next year strong!

Portrait Picture of Smiling Lady

Best Regards –  Kathryn Freeman

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