Finding positions in which business development capacity is part of the necessary capabilities is increasingly common on LinkedIn. It is very common, even, to find the position of “Business Developer” or “Business Development Manager” instead of what we have called a lifetime “Sales manager”.
Business development refers to multidisciplinary management for the definition of products and services, aimed at strengthening its commercialization; Definition of new opportunities, creation of needs and design of an alliance strategy.
In this sense, the business development manager defines how the business should evolve so as not to stagnate, to continue growing.
It is very common to confuse business development with marketing or sales. Well, it is important to know that, although there must be a close synergy between them, these are totally different areas, where each one has its own functions.
The new digital economy ecosystem has caused a multitude of start-ups with innovative projects and value proposals that contribute a lot to the market, but which in most cases are unknown. On the other hand, there are also markets where competition is huge. Therefore, the profile dedicated to business development is increasingly important, capable of presenting to the market and closing agreements with your new product, service or proposal in a vertiginous competitive environment.
Being a business developer is not an easy task. In my view, the business development function requires certain seniority (not necessarily in age, but in a professional career), as well as a lot of intelligence and liveliness to detect opportunities. We cannot forget another fundamental factor: trust. When a company is opting for one option or another, believing the interlocutor in front of it is undoubtedly a determining factor. Therefore, the degree of experience, reliability, and reputation of the business developer is key to its success.
What does a business development department do?
Identify and seize opportunities
It must identify and take advantage of the opportunities offered by the environment, such as markets with high potential that have not yet been exploited, be it the extension to new geographical areas or the development of new products and / or services. In addition, you must have the ability to create opportunities that lead to business growth, anticipating market movements.
Create opportunities if there are none
Business development must have the ability to create opportunities that lead to business growth, even ahead of market movements. Go one step further.
For the growth of the business, it is necessary to establish strategic alliances with external entities, whether to extend to new geographical areas, development of new products and / or services, new suppliers to reinforce the current value chain of the business, development of new processes, etc. Synergies with third parties are a key piece in the evolution of any business.
The business development department must go hand in hand with innovation, both in technology and business processes. This is of great relevance today, due to the constant and rapid evolution of technology and society. To remain static in the face of these changes is to be demolished in the market war that companies are subject to today.
Ask yourself the questions that nobody else asks
Business development must go beyond reality, custom, routine. You should always inquire about how to do different things, how to improve current processes. To think that everything is improvable and that no procedure is written on stone.
Define the strategy
As always, you cannot miss the strategy. Through the strategy, business development defines how the business is going to evolve, always taking into account corporate objectives, as well as the mission and vision of the company. Without a strategy it is practically impossible for results to be obtained since only actions moved by improvisation will be carried out without pursuing a common goal.
It is vital that the activities carried out by this department are framed in a work methodology and a business development plan with well-defined objectives, aligned with the organizational objectives and the global strategy of the company, thus avoiding the improvisation that can lead to mistakes that harm the company.
If your company has not considered including business development as part of its core functions and does not have the professional muscle necessary to do so with the current workforce, it is time to seek experts in the field, professionals with the knowledge and necessary experience to visualize and take advantage of the opportunities that will make your business grow. Today, missing an opportunity can result in failure for a company, without reversing.
The company must be prepared for its evolution, in this sense knowing how to manage change is necessary. Business development and change management are two sides of the same coin
Decalogue of learning to succeed in business development
Given all the above, I would like to share with you ten tips:
- Always be alert to any opportunity. From my professional history, I can tell you that I have lost agreements that I thought were closed and I have won others in which I initially thought I was wasting my time. With experience, a first intuition is usually important, but I can guarantee that it is far from definitive.
- Be generous with your network of contacts. I recommend you first help and then ask. Spend time with others, do favors without asking for anything in return. People perceive when you are only an interested party, and they will pay you a bill in the medium term. You never know where the person in front of you will be and who needs your help tomorrow.
- Have hobbies and let the rest know. Golf, fishing, reading, chess, cinema, football, hiking … Whatever! They will help you connect with others and create links. Business development consists mainly of that: creating links with people with whom you can do business in the future.
- Create your contact ecosystem.
- Go to forums and events in your sector actively and with a goal. It is important to keep up and understand “what is cooked.” Attending events is demanding because emails continue to enter our inbox, but it is the key if we want to stay up to date and find new opportunities. To make it an active way you have to prepare the event before it occurs: see which companies enter, who you are interested in knowing who you are interested in visiting or what papers they can give you. If you do not prepare it in advance, it is very possible that you waste your time.
- You have 48 hours to establish contact with that person you have met and that is interesting for your network of contacts. Find any excuse, but send an email so that you are “located” when you contact again.
- Interest in the business of others. You will get better results in developing business if you get the potential client to talk about their needs instead of hearing you about how good you are.
- Customize LinkedIn messages. Aren’t you fed up with receiving “non-personalized” proposals from people who just contacted you on LinkedIn? Every time and more frequently, I receive awkward, non-personalized messages from people I don’t know and I just accepted their contact. My recommendation is that, if you want to develop business with strangers through the network, send a personalized message in which you show
It is a real interest for your interlocutor (or, at least, you have spent a minimum of time). I also advise that you allow time between the established contact and the proposal you want to make. Finally, I also suggest that the first message you send is helpful and not so much for sale.
- Look in the long term. The best business developers I know have the peculiarity that almost everyone speaks well of them. Earning the credibility and trust of others requires time and, on many occasions, to miss some opportunity in the short term.
- Work your reputation and prestige. Your personal brand to be authentic. Remember what Amazon founder Jeff Bezzos says: “Personal brand is what others say about you when you’re not in your room.” It’s not so much about what you say about yourself, but about what others talk about you. There is only one way to do this, work personal and professional excellence.
I hope some of these tips will help you and don’t forget that, deep down, commercials and business developers are all of us.
In today’s changing market, it is essential to have a business development department that is 100% focused on seeking opportunities for evolution and defining strategies to adapt to changes quickly and even anticipate them. In this way, the company advances at the speed of the markets.