Distinguishing Between a Business Development Consultant and a Sales Person


While sales and business development are often used interchangeably, it would be an error for these two very different jobs to be characterized in exactly the same manner. Business Development may also be used as a mask when a sales person does not want to be viewed as a sales person. Some companies will make the sales people feel more important by giving them a special title for their new business cards.

Those who focus primarily on sales and those who work in business development have unique objectives and pathways for accomplishing those objectives. Both business development consultants and salespeople are integral to the growth of a business, but the two roles should complement one another rather than being considered as interchangeable.

The Difference

As an article published by TBK Consult puts it, a business development consultant is responsible for finding a good fit between a product or a service and a market demographic. In contrast, a salesperson is responsible for generating profits as a result of getting those in the chosen market demographic to invest in the product or service.

Business Development

57 percent of a consumer’s decision to purchase or not purchase a product or service is complete before the consumer ever talks to a salesperson. This statistic highlights the importance of business development consultants.


Regardless of the strategy and research, at the end of the day, you will need a talented salesperson to close the deal. Salespeople are the face of the product, the charismatic leaders who know how to listen and really connect with people, and make their services invaluable.

To be clear, the primary goal of a salesperson is to close the deal; salespeople are not responsible for making a product or a better product (or service), marketing that service, driving leads, or anything else - they are responsible for the conversion of a lead to a sale.

Confusing the Roles

It is important that during the hiring and development phase of your business, you recognize the two very different roles that business development consultants and salespeople have. When the two roles are confused and people are unsure of their role, things can get a bit chaotic.

Failing to distinguish between the two roles leads to a lack of clarity. It is critical to understand the target market, audience and sales cycles, and take full advantage of the skills of both business development consultants and those on the sales team.

The top sales professionals are not focused on researching the market nor do the business development consultants find more success by attempting to convert leads to sales. People perform at their peak when they are able to focus and maximize on their talents and skills.

The Overlap

After drilling the point home that salespeople and business development consultants have unique tasks and their roles should not be confused… there could be some overlap. It is unlikely that salespeople will spend too much time handling any of the business development consultants’ tasks, but business development consultants could indeed put on the hat of a sales person. The size of the company, staffing, experience of the team, maturity of the company, industry, and the sales process are but a few variables which might determine their involvement.

Invest in Both

Both salespeople and the leaders responsible for business development help you achieve your company’s end goal: to make a profit. While both roles are different, each should be fostered and supported to ensure that your company has  the resources and tools it needs for optimal success.

Building the Team:

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Topics: Hiring Sales Training Business Development