15 April 2020

Sales Development vs. Business Development: The key differences in skill sets


The composition of your sales team will determine your commercial growth. Especially in SaaS companies, your sales team will most likely be a combination of Sales Development and Business Development. Since both jobs/responsibilities are often confused with each other, in this article I will provide you with an overview of the required skill sets for Sales Development and Business Development. Besides, I will give some examples of what to do with this information.



Business Development vs. Sales Development: Key differences

Business development is the process of finding a product market-fit, having the right messaging, keep analysing market trends and ensuring that the product develops itself in line with these market trends. This team will determine your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) so that the Sales Development Team knows where to focus on in outreach. Ultimately this should result in a pipeline filled with qualified leads.

Sales Development is the process of systematically generating revenue with the product (solution) in the chosen market segment. Sales Development is responsible for getting the customers on board who fit into the ICP, defined by the Business Development team (i.e. converting qualified leads into actual prospects/customers).


Who’s closing the deals: Expertise vs. Clarity

It can be different for SaaS companies whether the Business Developer or the Sales Developer is responsible for the actual closing of the deal. Companies having a more expertise-heavy sales process, almost leaning towards consultative selling (Challenger method is a good example), will likely let their Business Developers take care of the meetings that are booked by the Sales Developers.

If you have a product where the pain and the solution is already very clear to prospects (i.e. you don’t need to educate your prospects on the problem behind their perceived problem), it’s more likely that your Sales Development team will take care of the actual deal closing.

Equalture’s product, for instance, has a very expertise-heavy sales process. Given the fact that our proposition in the HR tech market is quite new, we always need to educate prospects first on why they need Equalture and why their current alternative is causing significant problems on the long run. That’s why Business Development takes care of the meetings and deal closing here.

Tools like for instance Calendly are crystal clear. You know exactly what you are looking for, you google for an online meeting scheduling tool and there it is. This is a more simplified sales process and therefore your Sales Development team will likely be focused on closing deals.


Required skill set for Business Development

This is an overview of required skills and why you need these skills in Business Development:

  • Task prioritising
    • Why: Business Development includes a broad set of different responsibilities: market research, market segmentation, messaging, maybe even some content marketing and so on. You should therefore be able to prioritise different responsibilities based on company goal setting, both long-term and short-term.
  • Logical reasoning
    • Why: Defining and improving/developing your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) and attached messaging requires the ability to reason logically on how the market could be segmented.
  • Critical thinking (note: also important for the deal closers)
    • Why: To be able to determine your ICP and messaging it is highly important to be able to critically analyse the problems that these companies are now facing, but moreover the actual source of their problem. It can be tough for more expertise-heavy products to easily identify whether the prospect’s perceived problem is also their actual problem.
  • Long-term focus
    • Why: When defining and developing your product-market fit, it is important to keep aligning this with your company’s vision and long-term goals.


Required skill set for Sales Development

This is an overview of required skills and why you need these skills in Sales Development:

  • Creative thinking
    • Why: Sales Development is responsible for filling the pipeline and booking the actual demos/meetings. It is therefore important to also search for creative ways to make your outreach methods or lead generation materials stand out.
  • Flexibility/Agility
    • Why: Sales Development deals with a lot of hearing no. It is therefore important to be able to deal with disappointments and quickly reset your thoughts when contacting other people.
  • Ownership
    • Why: Sales Development is the fuel of your sales machine. Although SD is not a responsibility that people will like for years (promotion is likely to be happening quite soon if things go well), it is very important to feel like you’re responsible for and working for the ultimate company goal: Sustainable growth. Not feeling responsible and accountable for your actions can easily lead to a lack of connection with the company’s bigger picture.
  • Task prioritising
    • Why: Having an extensive pipeline to manage (especially for companies with an lower MRR per customer) makes it important to be able to prioritise and rank leads on potential and relevance.


What to do with this information

So now you know which skills are required for the different responsibilities within the Sales Team, cool! The most logical next step would now be to use this knowledge to ‘benchmark’ your own Sales Team. Are your team members in the right position now? Does your team master all skills or are there some skill gaps to focus on?

You can basically go two different ways with this information:

  • Optimisation current team. You can use this information to optimise your current team, meaning either (i) developing your colleagues’ skills or (ii) changing the positions of some colleagues to have a better with with the job.
  • Input for hiring. Another way moving forward is translating the skill gaps in your current team into the profile of your ideal next hire who can compensate for these lacking skills.


How Equalture can be of any help

We offer a Predictive Team Composition Software. This means that our product is both focused on analysing and benchmarking your current team as well as (optionally) hiring the best candidate to enrich your team.

We do so by making use of neuro-assessment games. These are short, fun games that easily assess a person’s skills and personality traits. In this blog post we explained why we chose for games instead of traditional assessments.

So this is how it works for our customers in their Equalture dashboard:

  1. Create your different teams in your Equalture Dashboard (for instance: Sales, Marketing, Engineering, etc.);
  2. Invite your colleagues for these different teams;
  3. Your colleagues will receive an email with a link that leads them to a set of neuro-assessment games that they need to play;
  4. Once your colleagues have played the games, in your dashboard you can find your Team Analytics, including:
    1. Team vs. company performances;
    2. Team vs. industry performances (i.e. how is my Sales Team performing compared to other sales teams in the same industry);
    3. Individual results and recommendations for skill development/function switch;
    4. (Optional) Recommendations for a new hire within this team.

In these uncertain times in which we are all living now, your team is more important than ever. And being able to make optimal use of your team members starts with having solid insights to act on.

Curious to hear from us how we can help you get the most out of your current team? Just schedule a chat, we are more than happy to have a brainstorm session with you! After all, these are the times in which we should help each other.

Cheers, Charlotte