Talent [R]evolution

How companies can foster business development in their long-term strategy

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Do you have a clear idea of what business development really means? There can be just as many definitions of what it is as there are people who will tell you. In its simplest terms, it is every aspect of a business’s growth. Business development is a business’s profit, sales share, market increase and the way investments are made. As well as networking opportunities, brand awareness and popularity, it is also how these things are brought together to form a development strategy. Broadly, we can categorise it as everything that serves to improve business. However, we can further define it as the way all of these elements combine and interact with each other to improve business.

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Is business development the same as sales?

Business development is of course very closely related to sales. Without sales, a business cannot create profit to develop with. It is, though, much more than that. If sales are just about turning leads into customers, then business development is where your team probe deeper. A BDR will need to look at how relationships are nurtured, grown and utilised. These relationships are mostly between the customer and the business but development also looks at the way partnerships and relationships between other businesses can benefit. 

What does a business development representative do?

A member of your business development team should typically follow these guiding principles to lead towards a successful strategy. 

  1. Identify leads – The only place to begin is to identify leads; who are they? Where are they and how can we reach them? Possible ways to find new leads are in social media, email newsletters and traditional phone calls. 
  2. Communicate with prospects – The next step is to determine what the prospect wants and how their needs intersect with your product. How can you best sell your product after knowing their needs?
  3. Find more business opportunities – Business opportunities are not strictly sales, so work out how to expand into other markets and increase brand awareness. This is pure business development as it should assure long-term evolution. 
  4. Maintain loyalty and repeat customers – develop strategies for ensuring that customers make numerous purchases. Learn how to instil loyalty and confidence in the customer by increasing the possibility of contentment with the product and service. 
  5. Analysis of corporate strategy – how can the business grow in other areas, not just in sales? The team should look at performing research on the company and use this to compose a strategy or identify weaknesses in a current strategy.
  6. Generate further value – What ways beyond sales can the business increase value? Areas such as speed, quality, convenience and customer relations will provide an enormous amount of value to the business that high sales alone cannot achieve.
  7. Mapping industry landscape – Looking at the competition and the direction it is taking will help identify trends in the market and pinpoint potential opportunities. For instance, could there be a favourable moment for acquiring or merging with a competitor?

How is it useful?

As previously mentioned, business development brings together all the various channels of profit. It uses them to expand and improve the business both collectively and holistically with the goal of creating value. This value needs to persist long term to be worth anything. Instant, short-term sales are not worth much towards a business’s projected future growth. Instead, business development ensures the company or brand’s value and therefore looks at how to entice customers to return. It looks at creating reasons for confidence and loyalty in the brand by adapting communication to focusing directly on the lead. Focusing directly on the lead is one way for the team to establish brand loyalty. Other ways of establishing brand loyalty are consistency, engagement and understanding the client’s needs.

Further to using sales as a way to foster growth, the way a business interacts with its partners is essential for business development. These could be the suppliers, press, employees and peers. These relationships form the core of any business development strategy. This is because these entities have the power to influence impressions and decisions that others in your business community make. 

A holistic look at business development ensures growth

Business development is not a strategy that has an end-point, or a specific goal. It is a framework for continual growth that must be adhered to throughout the lifespan of the business. We all know that growth never stops, that for a successful business to continue to profit then the rate and amount of that profit must continue rising. The same goes, concurrently, for business development; the rate at which a business grows must also grow. 

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Alex Collart, CFO & Co-founder at Outvise. Serial entrepreneur and management consultant, with a focus on strategy and marketing. Has co-founded and exited several companies. Former McKinsey&Co associate. Industrial Engineer + MBA (IESE/Kellogg).

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