Business Development Basics: Understanding what is business development and why is it important for small and large businesses. Everything you need to know about business development.
Business development refers to activities, initiatives, and ideas that help make a business better. This includes, but is not limited to, making strategic business decisions, building strategic partnerships to increase profitability, increase in revenues, and business expansion as a measure of growth. Now that we have a fair idea regarding what is business development, we shall dive deeper to understand it better.
Understanding Business Development Basics
Activities in business development extend through various departments. These include vendor management, product management, project management, marketing, and sales. Cost-saving efforts, partnerships, negotiations, and networking are also involved. Business development goals align and drive all these activities and departments.
Sales personnel aim at a particular client (or set of clients) or a specific market for a specified revenue target. Business development assesses and sets goals which the sales department targets. Marketing has a rather indirect and complementary role in achieving targets set for sales. Business development initiatives set a marketing budget that further decides whether the marketing strategies will be aggressive or passive. You must understand the marketing funnel to improve your marketing strategy.
In the same manner, business development aides or is involved in the above mentioned activities and departments.
Business Development Stages
Following are the stages in a business development plan –
1. Market Research
The most crucial yet the least focused upon, is market research. A lot of individuals tend to neglect this aspect of a good business development strategy. To create a successful business development plan, you need to thoroughly analyze the market players, market size, and competitors. This research helps you gain insight into your target audience and build a pipeline.
Research is essential for business development strategy as it helps you understand where your product stands in the market. Regular market research is essential to become an industry leader.
Business development strategy refers to the plan of action to achieve long as well as short-term goals. The strategy building process helps you understand the challenges and problems in every phase of execution. They help you identify the gaps and prepare to deal with the same.
Sales are the backbone of the business development process. The coexistence of these two functions is necessary for the simultaneous growth of both. Selling is more than you might think. Usually, individuals perceive it as an easy job, which is not true. Identifying the brand’s strengths and weaknesses is necessary. Further, you need to sell outside of your comfort zone where you can identify inefficiencies better. Yet, taking advantage of strengths is essential to ensure success.
Operations involve developing and coordinating new processes while you reevaluate the existing structures. This function involves understanding the resources available for production and the demand at the customer’s end. Operations management plays an important role in identifying a plan for business development in startups as resources are in limited supply. Often the leads generated by marketing campaigns become cold leads due to operational bugs. The major reasons include too many steps for process completion, delay in answering queries, and delay in contacting the person. To ensure maximum conversion, businesses need to execute plans efficiently till the leads are closed. Also, analyzing each step is necessary to improve regularly. You must also ensure a good marketing strategy to get better leads, especially digitally in the form of content copy that engages your customers.
Importance of Business Development – How can it help you grow?
You invest in growth by adding a business development executive to your team. You need to invest in researching your target audience. Further, all information shall be shared with the BDR. The BDR must also understand the business and its offerings. As the business development representative starts generating leads, your senior team needs to support them. Business development requires a lot of effort and is a long-term investment. You must be prepared to motivate your BDR at each step.
An experienced BDR is essential, especially for business development in startups. When well-executed, the business development function can lead to huge growth.
Tracking Success of Business Development
After learning about the process, one might wonder how to track the success of business development. Businesses can use a CRM or simple spreadsheets to track contacts, dates, responses, and the business from specific communications. Tracking both the engagement and reach will help you modify your message to make it more interesting for your audience and hence improve business.
Here are a few tools that you may want to check out for your business development needs. These may be free or have a helpful low-cost option to keep budgets lean for business development in startups.
Hubspot is an extremely popular and helpful CRM and sales management platform. You can use the free trial of the sales function to test 250 mails you send. It takes slightly longer to set up the CRM but it is very helpful for storing and analyzing the data collected from your business development efforts.
LinkedIn is a helpful professional search engine regardless of your personal network. If you want to connect with someone regarding your business needs, there’s a high possibility of finding them on LinkedIn. Depending on the information shared on their profiles, you can understand their work, interests, etc., and find a common ground to connect.
3. Email Hunter
Once you have identified the businesses and individuals you wish to target, you need to contact them via email. You can get a few free searches using Email Hunter. You can match the search results to your prospect’s name and increase your chances of getting into their inbox.
How to grow your business development function?
- You must have a business plan that defines where, how and when you expect to grow. This may include new channels, new industries, new geographies, new services, etc.
- You need to create a 5-year plan and decide how you intend money to flow in regularly.
- Build an organization chart to align your business development team with growth. Put designations like customer manager, business development executive, etc. and prioritize your hiring.
- Chalk out how your team shall work together and handle the customer end to end.
- Figure out revenue sources for the next year and what is it going to take to achieve your targets.
- Keep track of all data including leads, opportunities, conversions, etc.
- Get tools to create pipelines and manage your leads or contacts. Proper systems help improve efficiency.
- Ensure you hire for leadership roles as you’ll eventually need specialists in customer management, sales and marketing.
10 Things to Do or Not To Do for Better Business Development
Here are a few tips to help you improve your business development strategy –
- DO make sure you follow up. Whenever a prospect calls you, call them back sometime later.
- DO maintain trust among your customers. Keep promises you make to prospects and customers. Trust is a rare quality and those who honor it are highly preferred.
- DON’T over-promise and follow with under-delivery of goods or services. Customers do not encourage such a practice.
- DO more listening and less talking when meeting a customer. This way, you can understand their requirement better.
- DON’T push too many sales. Customers buy services if they like the seller, and sleazy salespeople don’t just fit the bill.
- DO price services and goods reasonably. Yet, know how much you can discount. Keep a healthy sale price and it’s a win-win for both the seller and the buyer.
- DO understand when to walk away. Some customers are not a good fit for your business and you can always politely back off.
- DO ensure your business reputation is good. Be clear about your values and maintain them throughout your journey. A confident and positive approach spreads rather quickly.
- DO thank people at every step. You can always show gratitude towards individuals who help you with your business or send new customers your way.
- DO give away business. This might sound a little weird but finding good referral partners and sharing leads that are not a good fit for you is very helpful.
Business Development FAQs
1. What are the key skills to look for in business development executives?
Business development executives need to have a willingness to work with different people having a common goal. Additionally, they must have a drive, vision, and leadership skills to take the business to better heights.
2. How to ensure a successful business development plan?
To make your business development strategy a success, you must have a vision and put together a team. Additionally, there are other factors like operational efficiency, effective implementation and keeping track of all data, which can lead to success for your business development plan. An experienced business developer can help new companies write a good business development plan, which becomes a roadmap towards building success.
3. What should a business development plan include?
A business development plan describes the objectives of your business, including targeted milestones, start-up costs, goals and how you intend to achieve your objectives.