BDM or Sales Executive

Written by Sean McPheat | Linkedin thumb

Question mark iconI received an interesting question not so long ago about the differences between a BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT MANAGER and a SALES EXECUTIVE.

Here’s the question:

“How do I help my fiance believe she isn’t selling but its just market development?”

Currently working for ABC COMPANY as an export sales administrator, her role is simply order taking and the administration of those orders. She is happy with this and but doesn’t enjoy prospect of sales.

After returnng from an exhibition, she has been asked to develop business in France.
Although she is a native Fench speaker and very professional in her work, the prospect of “sales” frightens her.

Are there any pointers you can gve me please where we can take a happy order taker into the world of business development without her becoming frightened of what some people deem to be as a daunting task.

I know this could be difficult if not impossible, she does see the offer as flattering but is daunted, if not scared and feels and views sales isn’t for her  because she has been surrounded by the seedy type.

I know that there are many companies who will find their staff have similar issues, and this question could help them….if you have the answer”

My thoughts on this:

In my mind there are 2 types of sales people – ORDER TAKERS and PRO ACTIVE SALES PEOPLE

Order takers are when the business comes to them and they are already convinced that the product is for them. Pro active sales people have to create business and then close them down.

Some people are great order takers and can’t pro actively sell for toffee – a lot of people “have it” or they don’t.

The challenge you face here is her perception of a sales person. Somewhere she has seen the seedy side of sales – I can tell you there are as many
if not more seedy types in the BDM environment. Market Development requires selling skills so to say that it isn’t selling is wrong – they key skills
applies. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck…’s a duck!

Also, what one company calls a “Sales Executive” is another’s “BDM” – There is just no consitency. To develop markets in France she will have to “sell” the
company, her products and even herself. She will have to close companies on the idea of doing business with her company irrespective of whether
a “sales person” goes in to negotiate the deal and particulars.

It looks to me as though the problem is her going from “order taker” to being proactive and “getting the orders”. She is probably scared of hearing more
“no’s” than “yes’s”.

So, in summing up – I would not kid her and mask the fact that although it seems to be a development role, that no selling will be involved
because it will. It is vital she knows this up front. Who knows, she might not even be suitable for the role. BDM means being proactive, getting out
there, taking a risk, not being scared of failure and being comfortable with hearing no….the exact same qualities that a sales executive requires!

My gut feeling tells me not to convince her of anything. If the thought of proactive selling scares her, then when she hears the first couple of “no’s” this will make matters worse.


Sean McPheat

Sean McPheat
Managing Director

MTD Sales Training

450 sales questions free report

Originally published: 14 September, 2007

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