What is Sales Development?

By Mark Hunter

For too many companies sales development is the process of getting more sales and on the surface this is correct, however, sales development is much more than just getting sales. If a company only wants to increase sales they can do things including offering steep discounts, shorter delivery times, increased customer support or a host of other things. The problem with each of these is they all involve the loss of profit.

Sales development is really a life style for a company. It is a way of life in that a company that practices sales development is going to be actively engaged in activities at every level which are all designed to increase sales. Sales development encompasses everything from research and development to marketing to sales. Now for the sake of keeping this article relatively brief let’s focus on sales development from a sales perspective.

For a sales team sales development is a formalization of how the sales team reaches their customers with their products or services. Sales development is all about ensuring the methodology used to reach new prospects is efficient in cost and effective in terms of delivering the right type of long-term customer. During the sales call itself sales development is all about how well the marketing materials being used by the sales team supports the questions they’re asking and the benefits the customer is identifying. Finally, sales development is all about how the company interacts with the customer during the buying process and everyday thereafter.

If we expand the topic of sales development to marketing, research and development and other departments it would be easy to wind up a with a book and that’s the point. Sales development is all encompassing, it is the foundation of any company and it is the cornerstone of what sales does. To this end we say in order for any company to implement sales development they have to be very clear as to their mission statement and their “go to market” sales strategy and have the stamina and strength to do the things necessary as dictated by their “go to market” strategy.

A final thought on this topic. If a company believes their sales development strategy is solid because of work they did 5 years ago or more they’re setting themselves up for failure. Their is not a market out there that has not gone through significant change in the last 5 years and that is a key reason why a sales development plan must be continually reviewed and upgraded. The only caution here is to not allow the measuring process to never be implemented based on the premise the document is always changing. Sales development may be continuously evolving but that does not give up the need to be measuring and bench-marking the sales development program on a regular basis.