Scott Pollack’s article in Forbes defines business development (aka, sales) as “the creation of long-term value for an organization from customers, markets, and relationships.”  While sales is surrounding relationships, according to Peter F. Drucker, marketing is “to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself.” So, if marketing is done well and all the necessary materials are communicated and presented in a thought out pattern, then the sale is easy, right?

These are different definitions, but both definitions echo Stephen Covey’s Habit #2 – “Begin with the end in mind.” Whether you are a marketing or sales professional, this “habit” should always be the first step to any initiative, campaign, event, or other effort. If you have not thought about what goals or results you wish to achieve with a project, then how would you measure success?

Let’s look at specific action items that could be considered sales versus marketing:


  • Prospect research – understanding where opportunities lie, who is the right target audience, what companies would work well with you
  • Referral development – building relationships with individuals who would refer client to your company
  • Networking – attending business events to find new connections in an effort to sell your products / services


  • Communications – building communication methods to deliver your message to your target audience
  • Materials – creating brochures, electronic newsletters, surveys, or other physical materials to share your message
  • Digital – developing a web site, populating social media sites and email campaigns about your products / services

As with any profession, when comparing one to another, you’ll find many similarities and many differences. Business development is the act of selling; however, without marketing, what impression would the prospective client have of your company? Without getting too deep into that question, we’ll leave you for now. Our next two posts will take a look at the traits and attributes that make a successful sales professional and those that embody a successful marketer, so stay tuned!