Power of Business Development: HodgePodge or Imperative for Business Success…

“The thinking that got us here isn’t the thinking that’s going to get us where we need to be.” ~ Albert Einstein

Business development is a broad term applied to the process of strengthening ties with existing clients as well as cultivating customers in other market sectors. In order to accomplish this goal, business development normally crosses the traditional barriers between sales, marketing, customer care, operations and management in order to promote this process of expansion on more than one level. This means the business development specialist must exhibit a degree of competence in many different areas in order to identify and capitalize on growth opportunities.

In the article “Yesterday’s Business Bevelopment Strategy Sure to Fail Today” by Bill Scheessele writes: To survive in this economic atmosphere, you must change your thinking and actions from those which worked for you before. This includes all of the characteristic sales push tactics of pressing company-crafted solutions on customers, pushing them to buy by giving a lot of information, presenting product features and benefits, or plugging your superior service capabilities.

“There is nothing wrong with change, if it is in the right direction.” ~ Winston Churchill

What works now is being a master problem-solver by getting inside your prospect’s head to really understand their needs, wants and requirements. Or, in other words, you need to gather intelligence. Be mindful that obtaining meaningful customer intelligence is a far cry from just gathering data. Obtaining first-person, primary intelligence means engaging customers with a business acquisition process to understand all underlying issues in play. This engagement strategy is necessary to craft the best solutions to their problems based on your firsthand knowledge of their situation from their perspective.

This ability builds a bridge of trust and is a powerful competitive advantage. Instead of pushing products or pressing services, you create an atmosphere that sets you apart from your competition. The result is that customers pull you into frank and revealing discussions of their problems: You become a trusted advisor.

“The Business Development process is not static.  It’s not something you do and then you are done with.  It’s something you do all the time.  In other words, once you’ve innovated, quantified, and orchestrated something in your business, you must continue to innovate, quantify, and orchestrate it.” ~ Michael E. Gerber

The business development process keeps you from being destroyed… If you’re not continuously improving it, you’re sliding…know your numbers so you know your gains…bake your learning into the system…you should have a process for everything you do, then build upon and improve your process.  That’s how you scale your effectiveness and continue to grow your business.

In the article How To Create An Effective Business Development Strategy by Jonathan Farrington writes: Business development strategy is used to underpin your main business plan, and essentially it sets out a standard approach for developing new opportunities, either from within existing accounts or by proactively targeting brand new potential accounts… The key word is ‘strategy’… you are creating a workable and achievable set of objectives in order to exceed your targets… Pro-active business development demands that we create an ideal customer target at the front end – i.e. an Ideal Customer Profile. Many strategic sales professionals merely profile their best existing clients and try to replicate them – there’s nothing wrong with doing this but we should always remember that we are seeking the best and we can always improve on what we already have…

As is often said “people do not fail because their plan failed, but rather because they failed to plan” The man who knows where he wants to go is more likely to get there, he just has to decide how to get there. All plans are essentially maps and guides; the strategic element is the ‘how‘. Be prepared to change course, flexibility is key, and don’t be afraid to experiment, look outside the square.

In the articleHow to Create a Business Development Strategy That Works writes:  Quite simply, strategic management is the act of developing and implementing a plan designed to achieve the objectives of your business. This involves listing the objectives, doing an analysis of current practices and developing programs and policies to leverage strengths, mitigate weaknesses, and thrust the business forward in terms of meeting objectives.

Obviously, there is not one type of business strategy that is going to work for every business. The old saying goes “there is more than one way to crack a nut”, and this is true in business, even within the same industries. For some businesses, trial and error is part of the process of finding business development strategies that work. Find what works for you and if you realize that what you are doing is not working, switch things up until you find a new business strategy that is right for your organization.

In the article “Business Development Strategies” by Tintin writes: In a world full of cut throat competition, each and every business organization has a more or less common agenda – to constantly come up with different ways of achieving maximum growth, sales, profits, and in the process, stay ahead of its competitors. However, all this is much easier said than done. Setting goals and growth targets is easy, whereas actually going ahead and achieving them is a totally different ball game altogether. Business organizations need to prepare some carefully designed business development strategies, without which, achieving the desired targets becomes a next-to-impossible task....

In the articleBusiness Development Strategy by McBain Consulting writes: No business would grow without a strong business development strategy. A robust business development strategy looks outside the sales team; it is more than a sales function, it should be a cross-organizational activity. Some organizations employ individuals to specifically implement business development strategy. As strategy implies long term; business development should be long term too. Without a realistic plan, the organization will not survive and the organization will fail to meet shareholders expectations.

“The business development process is dynamic, simply because the world, moving as it does, will not tolerate a stationary object.  The world will collide with whatever you’ve created, and sooner or later destroy it.  The business development process is that which enables you to preempt the world’s changes.  It hopefully precedes them, and, if not, at least is infinitely flexible in relationship to them.” ~ Michael E. Gerber

According to Michael E. Porter, Harvard Business School, there are five forces that have to be factored in any business development strategy. These five forces are…Threat of the entry of new competitors… Intensity of competitive rivalry… Threat of substitute products or services… Bargaining power of customers (buyers)… Bargaining power of suppliers… Depending on these forces a firm can determine its stand and then based on the analysis of the three key activities of segmenting, targeting and positioning formulate an effective business development plan …

Business development strategy must also consider the mode of entry into markets: A high control or a fully owned mode of entry which is a high risk high gain business development strategy. Or opt for low control or shared ownership which is a low risk low gain business development strategy. Lot of factors such as market size, growth rate, government regulations, and infrastructure helps a business development manager decide on the optimum mode of entry.

In the articleStartup Business Development Strategies: 7 Tips For Putting Together Stellar Deals writes:Business development is both creative and analytical—left brain and right brain—and done well, business development deals can be the purest representation of the equation “1+1=3” to drive growth. Indeed, the best business development deals are often those that break new ground and introduce new models for doing business.  Follow the rules of brainstorming, where no idea is a dumb one, and explore all sorts of possibilities; as long as the contemplated deal structure benefits both parties (win-win), it’s worthy of consideration. Set aside your predilections and constraints and get creative.

Before pursuing any deal, it is useful to get inside the mind of your target partners, and view a potential deal from their perspective.   What is it they are lacking?  Where are they falling behind?  What keeps them up at night?  This takes research and an ability to connect the dots of an often-complicated mosaic of market trends, products, competitors, company culture, and other factors.

The challenge here is twofold.  First, it can be difficult to discern between deals where there is truly not a fit, and the normal struggles, politics, highs and lows that accompany any deal.   Second, in many cases you’ve already sunk a ton of time and money into the process, and it is emotionally draining to accept that it was all wasted effort.  Do the analysis, but trust your gut—if it’s clearly not going to work out, consider your efforts as sunk costs, extricate your firm as smoothly as quickly as possible, and move on to the next deal.

In the article Business Development Strategies writes: A successful business strategy enables managers to provide organizational vision, monitor and understand a dynamic business environment, generate creative strategic options in response to environmental changes, and base every business effort on sustainable competitive advantages. It is difficult to think of anything more important to organizations than the sound implementation of their strategy, the key to achieving their mission. But consider the following statistics:

  • 95% of employees do not understand the strategy
  • 60% of companies do not link their budgets to the strategy
  • 85% of senior management teams spend less than 1 hour a month discussing strategy

While effective planning is the first step in revenue growth, ensuring robust processes are in place to support your plan is equally critical. Without well designed, adequately tested, and clearly communicated business development process to support your operational and tactical business development plans, even your best efforts can fail.

In the articleBusiness Development writes: Business development is a combination of strategic analysis, marketing, and sales. Business development (or “biz dev”) professionals can be involved in everything from the development of products and services, to the creation of marketing strategies, to the generation of sales leads, to negotiating and closing deals.

Business development involves varying degrees of sales and strategy. In some companies, biz-dev people may focus on getting new corporate sales accounts, while in others they may lead new product development. Business development is highly cross-functional, requiring close collaboration with various internal and partner-company teams such as sales, engineering, and marketing to ensure that a deal is consummated. With its focus on strategy, biz-dev steers the direction of a company—the deals forged today determine what the rest of the company will be working on tomorrow…

Business development means different things to different people. That’s why it is appropriate to define the term beforehand. For some it simply means prospecting, to others it can mean developing a new product or technology, while to others it can mean investing or divesting corporate assets. Business development is about bringing discontinuity into the normal operations of an organization. It’s about bringing, doing or developing new things the organization didn’t do before. All have their own right to claim that their activity is business development…