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Marketing vs. Business Development vs. Sales vs. Capture Management

You know you have gaps. Where are they?

The difference between marketing, business development, sales, and capture has nothing to do with titles. The difference is purely functional and it matters. People misuse the labels all the time because there is a lot of overlap and they prefer one title over the other. But you need some of each, even if you are short staffed and the titles people have don’t match.

See also:
  • The goal of marketing is to attract customers so that you can sell to them. There are many approaches to attracting customers. Some involve outreach. Some involve making your company and its offerings more attractive. Outbound vs. inbound, push vs. pull.  Some involve technology and some involve relationships. The more the complexity and pricing of your offering goes up, the more important having a relationship with your customers will become. The more your offering resembles a commodity, the less important relationships will be and the more important outreach will become. 
  • The goal of business development is to open new markets or to expand existing ones, either by developing new solutions or through partnerships. If you want to develop a solution that reaches new customers, expand an existing customer relationship into new areas, or combine your offering with someone else’s offering to reach new customers, that’s business development. Business development and product management are closely related, with product managers tending to focus more on creating the offering and business developers focusing more on what offering to have, where to market it, and how to sell it.
  • The goal of sales is to qualify and pursue as many leads as possible. Sales can get its leads from marketing, business development, or find them on their own.  They shepherd those leads to the closing process. They may overlap with marketing when they develop relationships with potential customers. They may overlap with business development when they open new territories. They may overlap with capture management if they participate in closing the sale.
  • Capture management provides dedicated attention to closing a sale. Capture management is usually only required by complex or highly priced offerings. Having dedicated capture management means sales focuses on identifying and qualifying the maximum number of leads. Capture closes the sales, typically with a written proposal. 

Overlapping confusion

Expectation management, role definitions, and of course clarity of incentives are critical to getting the right mix of these important functions.

  • Marketing overlaps with everything because it comes first and sets the stage. Who is responsible for positioning? Who is responsible for identifying potential markets and customers? Who determines which new markets to enter?
  • Business development overlaps with everything because it is cross-functional. It overlaps with marketing before, during, and after opening a new market. If it is successful, it results in sales. And if those sales are long lead, complex, and high value, it likely overlaps with capture management.
  • Sales overlaps with everything because it sits smack in the middle of it all. Where does lead identification end and lead qualification begin? And who is responsible for each? Where does lead qualification end and closing begin? And who is responsible for each?
  • Capture management overlaps with everything because it closes the sales. It depends on everything that came before. But it also adapts, changes, and finalizes everything that came before. Where does lead qualification end and closing begin? Who determines when, where, and how to close the sale?

GovCon marketing expert Mark Amtower says, "These functions merge under what is now called social selling. Leveraging social media to find key influencers, get on their radar, share information and otherwise remind them of your presence at key points in the procurement process." He explains this in an article in Washington Technology. Marketing uses social media as a key messaging platform. Business development, sales, and capture management all use it for both research and relationship building. 

One person can do marketing, develop business, sell, and capture. One person probably can’t do all four well. In a small business, people wear multiple hats. In a large business there can be a department for each of these, with handoffs, confusion, and gaps the result.

Every one of your sales will require elements of each of these areas. Very few companies do all of them well. Most companies ignore at least one of them. Which one does your company ignore? What are the consequences? Which require specialists? And perhaps most importantly, when do you want to go from having the problems that small businesses have covering everything to having the problems large businesses have with flawed handoffs, confusion, and gaps?

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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.

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