The Difference Between Business Development and Sales

The terms business development and sales are often used interchangeably.  This is a mistake. While the end goal is the same, they are very different strategies.

"Nothing happens in business until something gets sold." Thomas J. Watson

The Tip of the Spear

In the Marine Corps we call the infantry “the tip of the spear,” because they’re on the front lines of the fight.  Many civilians are surprised to find out that infantry Marines make up only about 10% of the Marine Corps.  The rest of the Marines are support – truck drivers, admin, air wing, etc.  I’m not saying support Marines don’t see combat, every Marine is a rifleman. I was a truck driver and I saw plenty of action, but the percentage of Marines who have combat as their primary duty is surprisingly low.

Nothing Happens in Business Until Something Gets Sold – Thomas Watson

Interestingly, the same “tip of the spear” dynamic applies in business.  Only about  13% of all full time jobs in the US are in sales.  In a world where, “nothing happens until something gets sold,”  the sales department is a surprisingly small portion of the force.  They are out there on the front lines making things happen.  Salespeople are the “tip of the spear.”

Every Marine a Rifleman

Just like every Marine in the Marine Corps is a rifleman, every employee in a company is a salesperson.  Author and entrepreneur Harvey Mackay says all of his employees are salespeople, “To me, job titles don’t matter. Everyone is in sales. It’s the only way we stay in business.”  Not every employee has sales in their job title but every employee’s actions -whether directly or indirectly – contribute to the only thing that matters in a business – making a sale.

A Department(?) of the Navy

When it was established, the Marine Corps was a Department of the Navy.  The historical mission of the Marines was to secure ships and crew.  Over time, the Marine Corps mission grew and now it often operates independently of the Navy.  Organizationally, it still falls under the Navy.  Sales forces have had a similar trajectory.

In the traditional definition, sales is part of the marketing department.  But few think about sales as a subset of marketing.  Sales and marketing are considered their own separate functions.  That’s as it should be, sales and “marketing” require very different skill sets.  One is in direct contact with the customer and the other is in indirect contact.  On a tactical level, they use very different tools to achieve the same objective.

Sales Without Selling

While nothing happens without sales, salespeople aren’t always necessary.  Some of the world’s great companies generate billions in revenue without sales people:

  • Apple ($234B)
  • Google($74B)
  • Starbucks ($21B)

That’s the power of marketing.  When the product fits the market and the company has a terrific brand, the product sells itself.  Some companies have created businesses so attractive that salespeople aren’t necessary.  The products sell themselves without being sold.

Business Development Right of Center

If we place direct contact (i.e. sales) at the far left end of a scale and indirect contact (i.e. marketing) at the far right end of the scale, business development lies somewhere closer to the marketing side.

Business development is an indirect way of selling.  Serial entrepreneur Andrew Dumont describes it this way, “Simply stated, the function of sales is to sell directly to the end customer.  The function of business development is to work through partners to sell to the end customer.”

Another way of saying this is, business development is a B2B strategy.  Business owners have to “sell” another business on the opportunity to partner with them.

In talking and listening to entrepreneurs one thing is clear, entrepreneurs are salespeople first and foremost.  It doesn’t matter if its a corner store or high-tech startup, an entrepreneur has to constantly be selling the value of his or her business whether that’s directly to consumers or to other businesses.


The Simplest Social Media Practice You Can Do

As small business owners, we’re overwhelmed with responsibilities.  We know we should be “doing” more social media but we just don’t have the time.

The right thing is to develop a strategy and social media plan.  You should do that, but it’s going to take time.  An imperfect action now is better than perfect action tomorrow.

"A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week." General George S. Patton

In 2017, it’s easier than ever to consume and share social media with your phone.  This is a low-value activity, but it’s a start.

Share a Facebook post “On your Page”

Waiting in line for coffee?  Find a post that’s interesting to your customers and share it to your FB Page.  This is about as easy as it gets.  Here’s how.

When you click “Share” you should see this (if you don’t see “On your Page”, install the FB Pages Manager app)…

Mobile Screenshot: Facebook gives users the option to share posts "On your Page"

Select your Page and share.  That’s it.  You’re done.  The hardest part was finding a relevant post (and that wasn’t that hard).

An Easy Way to Level Up

If sharing a Facebook post is the only social media strategy you do today, good enough.  It’s better than nothing.

But there’s an easy way to level up this sharing strategy – add a comment to the share.

Your customers don’t buy what you sell, they buy who you are.  Commenting reminds followers who you are and why they Liked/Followed you in the first place.

People don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it. Simon Sinek Smart - Brain Bucket Marketing

When you add your thoughts, you let your followers know why the post you shared is important and why you’re sharing it with them.

Adding a comment requires more work than just sharing, but only a little more work and it provides much more value.  It won’t lead directly to more sales but it strengthens your connection and empathy with your audience.

Keep It Doable

Sharing a post with your followers is the easiest social media practice you can do.  If you’re not already doing this once per day, start now.

About Brain Bucket Marketing

csuf-photo-shoot-159-700x700About Chad Armstrong, the founder of Brain Bucket Marketing.

I was born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin (ya der hey), and served three tours in Iraq with the Marine Corps (Get some!).  I met my wife Veronica, an Orange County native, just prior to what would be my last deployment.  We stayed in touch and when my contract was up, I left the Marine Corps and moved to California.  We’ve been happily married ever since.

01.furlough.102009In 2017, I graduated from the Mihaylo School of Business at Cal State Fullerton with a concentration in marketing and electives in entrepreneurship.  That’s where I discovered my interest in lean startup and platform thinking.  I served as Vice President of Entrepreneur Society while at CSUF.

Recently, I’ve been doing consulting for a group of companies that would like to move their manufacturing from China back to the United States. My primary contribution was in the revenue value of the “Made in America” label. I also helped with cost analysis. If you’ve been wondering about manufacturing in America, contact me. The time is right.

My wife and I live in Jurupa Valley, California, just outside of Riverside.  We were fortunate to find a once in a lifetime property, here’s a view of Mt. Rubidoux from our yard …


In my free time, I enjoy permaculture, 80’s music, and Green Bay Packers football.

I started Brain Bucket Marketing in 2011 as an affiliate marketing company.  After graduating CSUF, I now help other entrepreneurs and small businesses.  Brain Bucket helps with strategy, branding, SEO, and social media.  I specialize in reshoring, Gen-X branding, affiliate marketing, lean startup methodology, and platform adoption.

How can I help?  Connect with me on LinkedIn.

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