Definitions of Business Development, Marketing and Sales

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Definitions of Business Development, Marketing and Sales

The terms “business development” and “marketing” are often confused with sales. Discover the difference and how they connect

By Heather Suttie, September 2006

“Business development” and “marketing” are buzzwords in many industries, including professional services. Since the meaning of these words can be vague, they can sometimes be interpreted to mean “sales”. This is simply not true.

The truth is that business development involves strategy while marketing involves tactics. This combination enables sales.


Business development is how you define WHAT you provide to the marketplace. It is a set of strategic objectives that help you gain recognition. Business development strategy focuses on your points of difference and unique selling propositions. This differentiates you by reinforcing your brand through heightened profile, deeper market penetration, and increased market share.


Marketing is a set of tactics that demonstrate HOW you do business. It involves communicating to the marketplace about how you operate. Moreover, marketing is a proactive and continual process of listening, understanding, and fulfilling the needs and wants of your clients and prospects. Effective marketing helps build trust through demonstrated client care and service excellence.


Sales is the result of carefully considered business development strategies supported by marketing initiatives that help you develop trusting relationships, which lead to opportunities for attainable new business.


Heather Suttie is an internationally recognized legal marketing and business development consultant. She works with law firms, law companies and lawyers — Global to Solo — BigLaw to NewLaw — helping them thrive in the evolving legal industry by claiming a distinctive position and sustained competitive advantage resulting in greater market share, revenue and profits. Reach her at +1.416.964.9607 or

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