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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.

“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 

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 market strategy and management consultant to leaders of premier law firms and legal service providers worldwide.

For 25 years, she has accelerated performance within law firms and legal service businesses — Global to Solo | BigLaw to NewLaw — by providing consultative direction on legal business strategy, market strategy, management strategy, and client strategy. The result is a distinctive one-of-one legal market position and sustained competitive advantage culminating in greater market share, revenue and profits.

Reach her at +1.416.964.9607 or

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