With the exception of software development, I don't learn well by reading. For some reason I could always read factual reference books I'm interested in with near perfect retention. Everything else - not so much. In fact I rarely finished them (or successfully start them). Show me a management theory book and I want to blow my brains out.
A while back I wrote a couple posts about the difference between the VP of Engineering role and the CTO role in a company. Of course this is only my opinion but it's based on my experiences of doing the roles and having been around people who performed the roles.
I was recently in an email exchange with a few people where the subject of the Sales and Business Development came up with regards to another company. The two roles were being used interchangeably which I took exception to. Someone on the thread suggested it would be a good blog post. Always looking for a blog post, I decided to do another in my series of, "Stuff I probably could have read but learned instead because I don't pay attention to things that bore me"
Ideally a sales person sells something you have defined as being "the product" and the company has likely sold before (at least once). Sales people by my experience are people-people. They love their job because they sincerely like to interact with people of all types. The job is a game or frame work for them to get people to do what they want, or more specifically when they want them to do it. The relationship with the customer is their most prized asset and they will tell you that. Creating things is not likely their main motivation. In other words I haven't met a lot of sale people, who paint, or write or build furniture. In fact most seem to gravitate toward sports, or other competitive activities that further the conquest of social situations (good and bad). They want something well defined, easy to sell, rinse-repeat. I have met sales people that like the challenge of selling an "ok" product, but most want to be associated with a "kick ass" product. Sales people are generally 100% money driven which is simply the yardstick of success they use to judge how they are doing. In fact the more of their monetary success comes from an overachievement bonus, the happier they are.
A business development person is generally a much more holistic thinker in a business sense. A good business development person probably likes that a product may not be completely defined or even viable yet because this represents raw, malleable material used to obtain a goal. Business development thrives on trying to find innovative answers to simultaneous business problems. For instance, how can I get my customers to stock more product, get the inventory out of my warehouse, and recognizing revenue sooner. Or, I know a customer costs me $22 to acquire, can I pay someone with that customer $10 to promote my business to his customers and have a greater than 50% conversion? Often revenue is involved, but not exclusively. BD people are not usually money driven in my experience, more puzzle and praise driven. They want to be the person that unlocked the difficult problem. While business development people are also people oriented they don't drive toward the close, which is good and bad. Relationships are important to business development people but I find they are less "people collectors" than their sales driven brothers and sisters.
Based on the stage of the company and its maturity you may need one, the other, or both. For instance, in an earlier stage company where the product is still evolving (whether your admitting it or not), a good business development person can be critical. As part of their role they can identify the way each component needs to change by 10% to get the peg to fit. On the flip side a good business development person will get bored if you have all the knobs and dials tuned and its matter of moving stuff through the pipeline efficiently.
Conversely, having a world class sales person who knows how to get to the most influential decision maker the fastest sitting around and discussing product motivations and design issues is like four wheeling in a Ferrari – you look good doing it, but you're not going to get too far.
That's what I have learned about these roles so far. I hope I haven't offended anyone's sensibilities.
I'm sure there is a good book somewhere about this that I will likely never read J