Business Development 101: Guide to Business Growth

Business Development 101

“Business Development Executive,” “Manager of Business Development,” and “VP, Business Development” are all impressive job titles often heard in business organizations. Sales, strategic initiatives, business partnerships, market development, business expansion, and marketing – all of these fields are involved in business development but are often mixed up and mistakenly viewed as the sole function of business development.

The following information explores the nitty-gritty of business development, what it encompasses, and the standard practices and principles to which business development adheres.

What is Business Development?

Business development (BD) is the process that is used to identify, nurture and acquire new clients and business opportunities to drive growth and profitability. A business development strategy is a document that describes the strategy you will use to accomplish that goal.

The scope of business development can be wide ranging and vary a lot from organization to organization. Consider the model of how professional services organizations get new business shown below.

The first two stages of the model, Attracting Prospects and Build Engagement, are traditional marketing functions. The final stage, Turning Opportunities into Clients, is a traditional sales function. In the traditional role, business development would be looking for new channels of distribution or marketing partners.

But roles are changing and naming conventions evolve. In today’s world many firms refer to the entire marketing and sales process as business development.

What are the Stages of Business Development?

1. Market Research
Regardless of what industry you work in, sales professionals constantly strive to ensure that sales cycles do not take an excessively long time, because the opportunity cost can quickly become unjustifiable and unsustainable. After all, if a sales professional spends 10 hours in a week engaging and nurturing a prospect, that is 10 hours of active selling time that cannot be directed towards another — and potentially more viable — opportunity.

To be successful, sales professionals must resolve two competing forces: the need to shorten sales cycles, and the need to build a personal, quality relationship with prospects. That is where market research enters the picture and makes a pivotal difference.

Market research enables businesses to identify all relevant buyer personas, which are customer types that either make a purchase, or more typically in B2B engagements, are a key opinion leader who influences a purchase. Indeed, Gartner has noted that in a company with 100-500 employees, an average of seven people are involved in a single purchase decision. Equipped with accurate buyer persona data, sales professionals can target the right messages, to the right people, at the right time.

2. Strategy
Sales strategies are meant to provide clear objectives and guidance to your sales organization. They typically include key information like: growth goals, KPIs, buyer personas, sales processes, team structure, competitive analysis, product positioning, and specific selling methodologies.

Most of these guidelines are helpful for communicating goals and keeping your sales reps on the same page. Where most sales strategies fall short, however, is that they’re too focused on the internal workings of the organization. The actual skills needed to have winning conversations with customers—along with the messages reps need to be successful—are merely an afterthought.

When you boil it down, the goal of every sales strategy is to make sure your salespeople hit their quota, right? And it’s the messaging element—what salespeople say, do, and write in order to create perceived customer value—that wins or loses the deal.

3. Sales/On-boarding:
Sales onboarding is an education program that provides newly hired sales reps with the necessary knowledge, instills the company values, and show them how to leverage the provided tools of a company in an easy-to-absorb and timely format. This process ensures all sales reps have what they need for success within the company, with the team, and in the field.

A well-defined onboarding program, in particular, allows sales reps to learn in consumable chunks, with defined learning objectives and onboarding materials that are readily available and updated with the latest competitive, corporate and product information.To be successful, sales reps need an intimate knowledge of the products they are selling, as well as the specific procedures and behaviors that will help them succeed.

To be clear, a strong onboarding program gives reps more credibility and confidence in their new role, boosting the success of the entire sales department.

4. Operations:
With the rise of big data, cloud technology, and sophisticated sales tools, sales operations have become increasingly important to the success of an organization’s sales department.

Sales Operations supports a company’s sales team by creating, evaluating, and optimising data sets and sales applications.Employees working in Sales Operations most often manage sales administration, oversee business analytics and attainment planning, and direct sales force enablement.

More and more companies have begun to adopt Sales Operations strategies to remain competitive.

What Skills Are Required for Business Development

  • Communication: A good business developer must have strong communication skills. They are required in order to communicate, present, assert and speak to all the different stakeholders involved. He must also be able to cold call prospects with confidence in order to gain new clients
  • Strategic: A Business Developer will need to have strong research and strategic analysis skills. These are necessary in order to benchmark the competition and keep the company ahead of it.
  • Project Management: Good Business developers are in some way also project managers. They have to be able to set goals, plan and manage projects, manage the risks involved, calculate budgets, cost, time and teams working on ongoing projects.

How Can Business Development Grow Your Business

Adding a business development representative to your team is an investment in growth. But before you jump into hiring one, you need to set appropriate expectations.

Get a deep understanding of the business development process and what the BDR needs to succeed. (It’s not enough to give them a phone and a quota.)

You need to invest in researching your audience. You need to give BDRs all the information they need to creatively expand your reach and generate leads.

And you need to be aware that business development is a long-term investment that requires a lot of energy.

Prepare your senior team to support your business development representatives. Put effort into keeping them motivated.

Business development is a tough game, but one that can drive huge growth when well-executed!

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