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What is Business Development?

Updated on February 28, 2013

Corporate Networkers

Building Relationships is Key to Business Developers
Building Relationships is Key to Business Developers | Source

The Roles of Business Development

Individuals that have titles related to business development often will wear a variety of hats in the company and while they are often involved in a variety activities versus other job positions that are very focused and contained in a box. Business development can include the tasks of traditional management and marketing like developing strategic go to market plans for specific products and services and then managing the marketing and sales teams and overall strategies to implementing them with potential customers. Business development can often be misunderstood as a sales position within a company, due to the fact that individuals related to BD are often closing major customer deals, acquiring partners, and establishing channels, however there role is more akin to a relationship builder versus a pure salesmen. Larger deals rely on a different set of skills to negotiate than a traditional sales approach and this where business development professionals can excel at developing the right set of contacts within other organizations and coming up with the best recommendations for the businesses strategies to see a positive outcome of their efforts. Many biz dev professionals have characteristics of entrepreneurs as they need to be well versed in many aspect of the company, think quickly on their feet, and make decisions that will positively impact the bottom line of the company.

Using LinkedIn for Biz Dev

Backgrounds of Business Developers

Business development professionals often come from a wide variety of backgrounds. Each company will have individuals in the position based on the skill sets that are the most important for that company and industry, but the typical team member conducting this role will not be a one trick pony, they will have diverse capabilities, be good at corporate networking & relationship building, know how to manage different departments / teams, maneuver through typical corporate red tape, a self motivator, and has a proven track record of successfully initiating new programs and implementing them through to success with a positive ROI for the business.

Background for Business development professionals includes the following types of experience and skills.

  • Financial Services
  • Management Consulting
  • Operations Management
  • Strategy
  • Sales
  • Marketing
  • Legal

Tools for Business Development Professionals

1. The most significant tool a business development professional can use is a robust CRM solution like Salesforce or Zoho CRM. These are the perfect place to keep track of all communications that are going on with a project. Keep track of contacts and past communications and next steps inside of the system so that it is easy to quickly remember a past conversation and see what needs to happen in order to close the deal and move on to the next one.

2. LinkedIn - Connect with other professionals that you do business with. By building a social network presence with other professionals, it is possible to establish credibility in a market and also get access to people that previously may have been seen as unreachable. Simply by making a habit of extending invites to people that you meet at conferences, networking events, and corporate meetings it is possible to rapidly build a viable network of people in the industry that you operate in.

10 Tips for Success

  1. Get warm introductions instead of making cold calls.

  2. Talk with decision makers and spend time focused the people that actually make the decision.

  3. Be educated and understand the companies that you are interacting with so you are not scared about any unknowns that may come up.

  4. Ask, and listen, don't talk talk talk. Find out what the customer wants and is looking for in a partner / new product or service.

  5. Provide as little information as possible when someone is leading you on and not really asking the right questions.

  6. Use pictures and infographics about what exactly you are going to do.

  7. Manage the follow up process, always push to control the communication process so there is a reduction in delays.

  8. Be persistent and utilize pressure to push the deal to get done.

  9. Keep the deal exciting all the way through closing, so that it actually can close and get through the detailed aspects of legal and negotiations.

  10. Sale begins after the deal is done, now the business development sales process really begins when you have to start executing on the new relationship and provide value.


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