Jump to content
PropLibrary Content

Marketing vs. Business Development

What to do about the overlaps

Marketing is often poorly defined. What one company calls “marketing” can be very different from another company. 

Business development is often poorly defined. What one company calls “business development” can be very different from another company.

This makes comparing them fun.

They overlap so much that some companies don't really do marketing.

And that makes understanding the comparison important.

See also:

What is marketing? What is business development?

Marketing is what brings people to your sales process. Business development is that sales process. Except when it’s also marketing. It’s more like business development contains a little of both marketing and sales. And that’s the problem.

Business development overlaps with marketing when it is responsible for identifying new markets and customer segments (as opposed to individual customers). For example, by partnering with other companies to bundle their offerings, a business developer might gain access to their partners' customers as well as their own. Or by figuring out that if it develops a new solution, the company can win new business.

However, when business development is also responsible for identifying new individual customers, it also overlaps with sales. When business development is responsible for hitting targets based on closing sales, it is a sales function. How much of that marketing do you think will really get done?

The overlap between marketing and business development is mostly at the front end. The central issue is what needs to happen before you start prospecting, and who should be responsible for it. There is another set of issues at the back end, revolving around who leads the pursuit once a lead is qualified, who decides what to offer, and who is responsible for proposal development,

Where do you want people to spend their time?

Do you really want your business development staff spending time on marketing? Do you want them designing a web site to attract the right customers and figuring out how to flow them to the information that will convince them to make contact, or do you want them spending time with the customers that do make contact? Do you want them spending their time crunching analytics to determine what kind of customers to chase, or do you want them selecting individual customers to pursue? Do you want them segmenting markets to determine the right composition to fill your pipeline, or do you want them identifying specific customers to fill those segments?

If your business development staff are incentivized based on deals, that’s where they will spend their time. And you will get no marketing. 

But you definitely do need marketing. And for a lot more than just “branding” or name recognition. Even if you can get by just responding to publicly announced RFPs, you need marketing to figure out which market segments to target and where it’s worth developing relationships. If you just turn your business developers loose, what you’ll get are the low hanging fruit. And over time you’ll grow like a weed instead of growing strong.

Beware the seesaw effect

When business developers are incentivized based on leads and sales, they won’t start marketing until they run out of leads. Marketing requires time to pay off. It won’t pay off fast enough when you’ve run out of leads and then start. I’ve seen companies go up and come right back down because of this. Marketing would have saved them by creating a continuous funnel of leads for their business developers to spend their time qualifying and pursuing.

Instead of an either/or approach or a relationship based on territories, consider having an integrated approach. Ultimately the goal isn't to have marketing, or to have business development. The goal is to win and win big. This requires skills and effort that are beyond what we can reliably expect of one person. It's so much bigger than one person that it really should be the corporate culture and not simply roles that people play.

Let's discuss your challenges with preparing proposals and winning new business...

Access to premium content items is limited to PropLIBRARY Subscribers

A subscription to PropLIBRARY unlocks hundreds of premium content items including recipes, forms, checklists, and more to make it easy to turn our recommendations into winning proposals. Subscribers can also use MustWin Now, our online proposal content planning tool.

More information about "Carl Dickson"

Carl Dickson

Carl is the Founder and President of CapturePlanning.com and PropLIBRARY

Carl is an expert at winning in writing, with more than 30 year's experience. He's written multiple books and published over a thousand articles that have helped millions of people develop business and write better proposals. Carl is also a frequent speaker, trainer, and consultant and can be reached at carl.dickson@captureplanning.com. To find out more about him, you can also connect with Carl on LinkedIn.

Click here to learn how to engage Carl as a consultant.

Proposal Help Desk
Contact us for assistance
In addition to PropLIBRARY's online resources, we also provide full-service consulting for when you're ready to engage one of our experts.

It all starts with a conversation. You can contact us by clicking the button to send us a message, or by calling 1-800-848-1563.

Sign up for our free newsletter and get a free 46-page eBook titled "Turning Your Proposals Into a Competitive Advantage" with selected articles from PropLIBRARY.

You'll be joining nearly a hundred thousand professionals.

Sign up
Not now
  • Create New...