July 01, 2009

Business Development Managers - Who cares about the title?

In a conversation last week a very experienced executive at one of our government agencies told me one of her clients uses the title business development manager on their cards because their customers don’t like to meet sales people. Essentially this person was saying a business development manager is perceived more professionally than a sales person/sales manager in the customer’s eyes. A sorry perception for us professional sales people I would suggest!

Anyway back to why I started this post, the business development manager versus sales manager role raised its head yesterday and again today. A senior executive in a major services firm called me this afternoon; he was wrestling with his role and responsibility for marketing, business development and sales. He asked me my view on the role of each, which I did give, but before I tell you what I said I wanted to jot down the things that went through my head before I opened my mouth.

  1. Marketing’s role it is to build the brand, create awareness and generate leads
  2. Business developments role is to generate opportunities
  3. Sales role is to sell, develop relationship and gain commitment to action.
  4. God this topic has come up three times in the past week, as my granny used say, “when something happens once you can afford to ignore it, if it happens twice pay attention and if it happens a third time you better sit up and pay attention a pattern is emerging”
  5. Its simple sales management and business development management should be all the one in a small to mid size services firm selling globally

By the way I just Googled the term business development, the first search result back is a definition from Wikipedia. See what you think of the definition.

So getting back to what I said to this senior executive. “Based on experience working with people happy to call themselves sales managers and people who preferred to be referred to as business development managers if you own sales and business development, you own the responsibility for the sales numbers, agreed metrics, sales activity levels, sales reporting, mentoring sales people, developing markets, developing leads, securing sales, securing repeat sales, and managing the overall sale model”.

I told him this was an opinion based on my experiences working with organisations like Digital, IBM, Banctec and Bearing point. He seemed happy with the response.

I will be talking with this person again next week, if any of you have any insights or thought on the differences between a business development manager and a sales manager, I’d love to hear them.

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