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Limor Wainstein
Limor Wainstein

What's the Difference between Business Development, Sales Development, and Business Analysis?

Business development broadly refers to activities that create long-term value for an organization by implementing growth opportunities for an organization, such as forming a partnership that helps sell a product in a new market.

Sales development, while closely related to business development, is a separate area that entails creating value for an organization by identifying, connecting with, and qualifying leads, moving the prospects most likely to make a purchase towards the back end of the sales cycle where they can be closed by a salesperson.

Business analysis is more focused on identifying a need for change in how businesses work and helping to facilitate such change, whether by streamlining existing processes or implementing new technologies and new ways of doing things.   

The rest of the article highlights the similarities and differences in these areas, overviews the main roles involved (sales development representative, business development manager, and business analyst), and discusses some of the important skills for each role.

Differences & Similarities

  • Business development resembles a sales role in that it involves working to acquire new customers and clients for a business.

  • Business analysis is quite distinct from the other two areas because it requires a lot of data and research into how the business operates as a whole, as opposed to focusing on marketing/sales.

  • Business development focuses on sales from the perspective of expanding an organization’s reach into new markets, while sales development focuses on generating new sales from existing markets.

  • Business development can be seen as a high-level sales job, while sales development is more entry-level, and there is a path between the two areas, with business development staff often beginning in sales development roles.

  • Since business development impacts stakeholders, business development decisions will often include the input of the business analyst.

Sales Development

The key role within sales development is that of the sales development representative. A sales development representative is responsible for outbound prospecting. More specifically, the sales development representative receives a list of leads from marketing, who he/she is then responsible for contacting and qualifying so that closers spend more time selling to the prospects that are more likely to make a purchase.

Skills required:

  • Actively listening to people to best determine how to ensure you meet their needs, rather than aggressively trying to move people along the sales pipeline.

  • Familiarity with or ability to learn how to use CRM platforms.

  • Resilience: it’s important to maintain positivity when a phone call or email to a lead does not turn out as planned. SDRs must be able to quickly move on from a bad phone call or email and show the same enthusiasm for the 20th prospect contacted in a day as the 1st.

The salary for a sales development representative varies quite markedly depending on location and experience level.

Business Development

A common role in business development is the business development manager, who is tasked with helping a business grow by acquiring new customers or markets to sell to and selling new products or services to existing customers. The overarching task is to diversify a company’s clientele.

Some important skills required are:

  • Excellent interpersonal skills and the ability to persuade/influence people.

  • Strong sales and negotiation skills for developing partnerships and expanding a company’s reach into new markets.

  • An eye for new business opportunities through attending industry conferences and other events.

  • Building positive relationships.

  • Writing detailed reports for presentation to senior management.

Business development managers earn a median annual salary of $71,248 in the U.S.

Business Analysis

A business analyst often acts as a link between an organization’s stakeholders and its processes. The idea is that stakeholders define their needs and the business analyst then takes responsibility for translating those needs in terms of business processes and technologies that can help deliver what stakeholders want.

While some professionals such as data analysts and process analysts perform business analyst activities in their daily work, many organizations employ a dedicated business analyst. In fact, there are sub-types of business analyst roles that focus on IT, for example, or a business systems analyst. One can also become a senior business analyst.

Key skills:

  • Creating concise requirement documents for improving processes and implementing technology solutions that help meet stakeholder needs.

  • Data visualization and other visual modeling skills that help to capture and convey information visually.

  • Ability to form strong relationships with stakeholders.

The median business analyst salary is $59,291 in the U.S.

Closing Thoughts

While sales development, business development, and business analysis involve distinct roles with specific skillsets, there is an overlap in many areas. Sales development and business development are closely linked, as are business development and business analysis.

There is, therefore, the opportunity to carve out a career path starting with becoming a sales development representative, moving to business development, before upskilling to become a business analyst.

This entry was published on Jan 29, 2018 / Limor Wainstein. Posted in Roles and Responsibilities. Bookmark the Permalink or E-mail it to a friend.
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