Updated: Apr 21
Depending on who you ask, you will probably get a different definition of business development. Some see it as a leadership position; Others see it as part of sales or even marketing.
The truth is that business development contains important elements that define each of these deep roles. As a result, business developers often feel that they are wearing a lot of hats and constantly have their hands on different projects. For example, they can simultaneously work with other departments to create a website, try to secure new partnerships, increase brand awareness and create and evaluate business goals. Despite their multifaceted work, business developers are guided by a single goal: to create value for their company.
While it may sound conceptual, there are concrete ways developers are working to achieve this goal. For this reason, I will give you an overview of what business development means, go over how it differs from other similar roles in a company, and show you the skills you need to succeed with biz dev.
What is business development?
Business development is the process of making a business better and bigger through initiative and new ideas, value creation for your organization or business. This includes increasing profitability and focusing on growth opportunities by building relationships with strategic partners and making calculated business decisions.
Even if there is no such thing as a Herculean job candidate, one can be led to think about it just by looking at job descriptions for business developers. They must be "creative, analytical, organized, have strong communication skills and much more." This is because a business developer must be dynamic and use any of his abilities, whether it is brainstorming new ideas, making business plans or creating fruitful partnerships, to help the company grow stronger and better over a period of time.
To understand how business developers can achieve this feat, here is an overview of the key areas that make up their role:
Find growth opportunities
A business must be able to grow steadily in order to compete with others. Business development will focus on finding specific growth opportunities.
For example, a biz dev team can look at how a company can expand into different markets and research new products or services. These changes can in turn help them gain access to more customers along the line. Business developers can also be involved in finding smart ways to market a small business, or collaborating with marketing experts on campaigns that will drive the desired growth.
When we talk about a company increasing value, we are usually talking about profit. While there are many things in a customer's eyes that can make a company valuable, the value of a business is inherently related to the profits it brings in.
This is why the biz dev team will often focus on concentrating sales efforts. This can include expanding to new target groups and looking for ways to find more customers while keeping costs low. Although this is not the same as the sales themselves, which we will get into soon, it is similar to the formation of strategies that help increase sales.
Build long lasting relationships
Within business development, the focus should also be shifted to creating ties with both customers and strategic business partners. Above all, business development is not done with people
When talking about relationships with customers, business developers look for ways to bridge the gap between what customers want or need and what the business actually offers them.
They will look for ways to make a product or service more attractive to customers based on feedback or market research, and then contact other departments, such as marketing, product development or sales, to make it happen.
In the same way, relationships can also be external. For example, during the growth stage, a small business may need to foster strong partnerships with other companies to get started. Alternatively, a larger company can help a newer one with guidance, capital or even infrastructure if it is not already in place.
Sales vs. Business Development: What's the Difference?
As we saw earlier, biz dev usually has a finger in the pie. But while the goals and responsibilities of both departments are in line, they are not completely identical. At its simplest, sales are tactical, while business development is first and foremost about developing a strategy.
A biz dev also takes a more holistic approach to the sales funnel by analyzing what works and what can be improved in the long run. On the other hand, a sales team is likely to concentrate on short-term success and quickly close deals.
Ok, but where does marketing fit in?
Biz dev and marketing work closely together. While marketing is more focused on attracting new customers and potential customers, business development is also about building new relationships with customers and maintaining these new bonds to leverage them when needed.
You can think of marketing, sales and business development as a cycle for generating and treating potential customers. Each one handles a different aspect of the buyer's journey:
Awareness: This is when a buyer realizes they have a problem and knows they need a solution, but they are not sure what it is yet. To gain a better understanding of what it could be, they examine the consumer market.
Considerations: At this stage, a buyer has a better understanding of his problem and is committed to finding a solution. They may be considering some different approaches or answers, but have not decided on one.
Decision: The buyer knows the solution they need, based on their research, and can look at several options from different companies or suppliers, before finally deciding on one option.
Once you understand how the buyer's journey works, you will also have a better understanding of the roles of each department at different stages. In our case, business development is responsible for reaching customers in the awareness stage as well as in the assessment stage. They will look closely at the buyer's problem and try to figure out how their own products can work as a solution.
Marketing also works in awareness and assessment stages, with some changes. Marketers will try to present their brand directly to the buyer during the buyer's research phase. Finally, the sales team is responsible for guiding the buyer through the decision-making stage and getting them to choose their product or service, thus ending the deal.
7 skills you need in business development
Since business development consists of so many different tasks, it is important that those who want to work in biz dev come prepared with the necessary skills to succeed. Here are some things you need to develop in order to excel as a business developer:
1. Strong leadership and leadership skills
Since your goal is to help the company grow and become more profitable, you need to create new ways to achieve that. The position requires you to find and think outside the box to improve business processes, increase sales and make your business more valuable. Other departments will look to you for guidance and to set expectations, so you must have entrepreneurial and leadership skills to design your own projects and manage them accordingly.
The ultimate goal is growth, but to get there you have to set a whole collection of smaller goals along the way. When you work in biz dev, it is rare for others to set goals for you. Top management can tell you what they want or need, but ultimately it is up to you to organize your work. It is also important to have a good grasp of how to create SMART goals, which will set expectations for other departments, namely sales and marketing.
You might not have expected this, but being curious can open up so much more when you work with business development. A good business developer is curious about everything, from how to improve the sales funnel to why some partnerships are stronger than others.
With curiosity comes a driving force for research, which can help you understand the brand's shortcomings and fix them so that it can grow. Curiosity also breeds creativity since you are constantly looking for new solutions to ongoing challenges.
4. Acute attention to detail
Whether it's a calculation or a communication from a client or a potential partner, business developers require a lot of focus to pay attention to every detail, and there are many of them. When working on a few different projects with different teams, it's easy to let things fall through the cracks, but a good business developer will pay attention to small details to try to understand how they affect the big picture.
5. Boot strapper
As a business developer, you need to roll up your sleeves when it comes to breaking new ground. You will quickly find that in order to grow a business, you need to identify and start new paths to travel.
Being a self-starter will take you far in business development and help you achieve bigger goals by nurturing your entrepreneurship. This sense of ownership can inspire you to take more initiative, as well as study new concepts and do everything you can to bring more value to the business.
6. Team player
Now it seems like a cliché to see "team player" as a requirement for a job advertisement, but working in a team is an essential skill in business development. We have already seen how biz dev works hand in hand with other departments, so interpersonal skills and the ability to collaborate are necessary.
More than that, however, is having the understanding that in biz dev there is almost nothing coming across your desktop that you can give away or ignore. "It's not my job" just does not work when you work towards such large business goals and you have to keep your finger on the pulse of what is happening throughout the business.
If it was not clear now, business developers need to have lots of motivation. Trucks with motivation, actually. It may seem like there is too much work in business development to handle, but a successful business developer wants to know how to prioritize tasks while motivating themselves to complete the work and even apply for a job.
It is true, the workload can be a lot, but when you are able to start your own projects and see the success of your team and your business as a result of your own hard work, then all the work is worth it and can motivate you to aim even higher.
Business development tools you absolutely need
Apart from your colleagues and assistance from other departments, there are a few tools that are especially useful for the daily tasks of business development. These tools will help you manage your workload, stay up to date on tasks or organize projects easily:
Marketing Automation Tool: Marketing automation allows you to run specific tasks automatically without your intervention. For example, you can automate emails, pop-ups, invoices and many other things to save time. This is especially useful if you are in the process of gathering information about your audience and you want to engage with them, but you do not have the resources to do so on the spot.
CRM tools: Since relationships are so important in business development, you should invest in a good CRM tool (customer relationship management). This will allow you to keep track of both customers and potential partners. You can gather all their contact information in one place, track communication across multiple channels, run reports and gain analytical insight, see their location in a sales funnel and more.
Ascend by Wix is a great small business CRM tool that can be integrated with your website to help you capture leads and reach your goals.
Task Management Tools: In addition to tracking your customers, you also need help keeping track of all your tasks. Use a workflow planner or task management tool to stay up to date on all your tasks, organize them, and communicate with your team to see where everyone is. You may want to consider tools such as Trello, Asana or Slack.
Network tools: Before adding new partners or clients to your CRM, you must first establish a connection. Do not underestimate the power of social media to create networks. Twitter and LinkedIn are great places to make professional connections with others in your industry.
Freddy Fix borrowed from Wix