One term you'll often hear is "business development." But what does it mean, and why is it so crucial? Let's dive into the world of business development and explore its importance, key elements, and strategies for success.
What is Business Development?
To boost a company's market position and drive growth, business development involves a range of activities such as identifying fresh market opportunities, building strong relationships with partners and customers, and enhancing the company's value proposition.
By adapting to market changes and capitalizing on new opportunities, companies can stay ahead of the competition. Sales, marketing, project management, and partnerships are all key components of business development that play a vital role in helping teams grow and succeed in a scalable way.
What is the role of a business development manager?
A business development manager plays a crucial role in driving business growth. Their responsibilities typically include identifying new opportunities, building strategic relationships, and driving growth and profitability.
- Identifying New Opportunities: This could involve finding new markets, developing new product ideas, or identifying potential partnerships.
- Building Strategic Relationships: Networking with potential partners, negotiating deals, and managing relationships with company and team leaders.
- Driving Growth and Profitability: Ultimately, the goal of a business development manager is to drive growth and profitability, like implementing the strategies and initiatives identified through pipeline analysis and market expansion.
What is the Business Development Process?
The business development process is a series of steps that teams follow to identify and capitalize on growth opportunities. It's a continuous cycle that involves identifying opportunities, formulating strategies, and implementing those strategies.
Market Research: The first step in the business development process is market research, which includes gathering and analyzing information about the market, including customer needs, competition, and industry trends.
Strategic Analysis: After conducting market research, businesses perform a strategic analysis. This involves identifying their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) and determining how they can leverage their strengths and opportunities to overcome weaknesses and threats.
Setting Goals: Once a business has a clear understanding of its market and its position within that market, it can set goals. These goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART).
Developing Action Plans: After setting goals, businesses develop action plans. These plans outline the steps that the business will take to achieve its goals, including the resources it will need and the timeline for implementation.
Execution of Plans: The next step in the business development process is the execution of the action plans. This involves carrying out the activities outlined in the plans and monitoring progress towards the goals.
Monitoring and Adjusting: After implementing their plans, teams monitor their progress and make adjustments as necessary. This may involve changing strategies, reallocating resources, or revising goals.
Mistakes You're Making in Your Business Development Process
Whether you’re starting from scratch or you’ve been growing your business for many years, mistakes can be made along the way. You can be several years into running a successful business and realize you still need to strengthen the foundation before developing your business further
From startups to established companies, these are some mistakes you might be making in your approach to business development.
You’re Focusing on Quick Wins Instead of Establishing a Long-Term Foundation
Regardless of where your growth is as a company, you need to make sure you have the right best-practice foundation in place to be successful in the long-term.
This is always a challenge, but for startups and companies aiming for intense, immediate growth, there’s a fine balance between quick wins and laying the foundation that must be maintained — because you’re basically flying the plane while you’re building it. Find the balance between what can be done quickly to have an immediate impact, while also looking beyond quick-wins to establish systems that will enable your success in the long run.
One of the biggest mistakes in business development overall is just trying to attack the quick little things as opposed to focusing on establishing a foundation, which can result in business strategies that are essentially band-aided together.
A solid foundation for business development allows for a number of scalable aspects including your tech stack, your strategy and your team. We like to define it as the right alignment between people, process and platform.
While a quick win could provide with some revenue in the short-term, if you don’t know why it worked and can’t replicate the win at a larger scale, then it’s not helping your overall business growth.
For example, adding a “request a demo” CTA to the main navigation on your website can be done immediately to make conversions easier, if you have the web resources. The long-term foundation you implement while doing that includes A/B tests or a conversion optimization program. The foundation established by the A/B testing or conversion optimization will allow you to make more informed decisions over time for your greater CTA strategy, instead of just solving one specific challenge you face with converting website visitors.
You’re Focusing on Continuing What’s Working Well Instead of Filling Your Gaps
Knowing what you and your team is good at is important, but to achieve substantial growth, you can’t just embrace your strengths, you also need to overcome your weaknesses.
Focus on the gaps in your strategy as opposed to the aspects already running smoothly. Take an analytical approach to understand how you’re actually performing in comparison with competitors and how you’re stacking up to industry benchmarks because that’s the only way you’re going to be able to provide a roadmap for developing your business.
For example, our Inbound Marketing Assessment looks into how several areas of marketing strategy are mapping back to industry benchmarks, including website performance and email marketing.
We could go through and see that someone has really good click-through rates and open rates on all their emails, but they might have a huge gap in the gross visit-to-lead conversion rate on your website.
If they didn’t take a step back and look at their overall strategy, they might just create more and more email campaigns, which can be beneficial in some cases. Instead of just veering off track, the only way they’re going to improve their overall development is to recenter their strategy to incorporate more lead generation and conversion too.
In some cases, companies don’t even have the right foundation to look at things from an analytics perspective. New Breed’s Funnel Gap Analysis can help, because it tracks back from the revenue goal through each lifecycle stage throughout the funnel to analyze how conversion rates map back to industry benchmarks.
Sometimes analyzing these gaps also means adding structure and definitions within your funnel and customer lifecycle stages, so people don’t go directly from Lead to Opp with no visibility of the process building to that conversion.
For business development and growth, you have to be willing to look at your weaknesses rather than your strengths, and you also have to have a system in place that can identify true, remediable weaknesses instead of broad areas for improvement.
You’re Not Building an Appropriate Team for Scalable Growth
Some people equate growth with hiring more salespeople. You might think the staffing solution to bring in revenue is hiring 10 more BDRs and 20 more sales reps because that’s how you sell your product or service. Instead, think strategically about the revenue department. It’s great if you add five more BDRs to your sales team, but if you only have one person on your marketing team, then how many more leads are you actually producing for those people to call?
It’s important to think about how the revenue team as a whole needs to scale up to map back to those greater business growth goals. In some cases, for people who are trying to meet super aggressive growth goals, it doesn’t make sense to hire internally — that’s why external marketing and sales agencies exist. If your company needs to grow so much that you need 10 new salespeople, maybe you should consider hiring an outside marketing agency that can just plug and play like experienced marketers and start providing those new reps with more leads and more lead intelligence.
All too often, people look at business development and growth as an either-or option, where they can either invest in marketing or sales, but you really have to think about both. If there’s not a good balance, you’re not going to have enough leads for sales to follow up on or you’re going to have too many leads for your sales process and team.
That can be solved by taking the time to plan out the revenue team organization and understand how the hiring process is going to fit in with the overall business development plan. Hire and coach strategically while thinking about which team members provide value at different points in the funnel.
You’re Not Centering Your Messaging Around Your Buyer Personas
Buyer personas are a crucial foundation to establish. There’s a common misconception that a good business development plan focuses on branding and imagery first rather than personas and messaging.
People think if they want to start growing, the first thing they have to do is revisit their brand standards and guidelines. That has a place, and if your imagery is so horrible that you’re hurting yourself by not revisiting it, do that. However, the real work that’s going to help you build a strong foundation for growth is how your content and messaging reflects the pains and challenges of your primary personas.
Branding workshops tend to focus on look and feel (imagery) and the way that core business values are communicated. Instead, they should be focused on the core messaging around your personas and what will resonate with them.
Your branding, imagery and messaging isn’t for you — it’s for your personas. If you’re not taking that lense when you’re conducting a branding or messaging workshop, you’re just wasting time that could be spent laying a foundation. If your brand isn’t targeted to your personas, you could create a site full of imagery that appeals to you but deters your primary buyer from wanting to spend time on your site.
If you’re not communicating with your primary buyers, it doesn’t matter what your logo looks like or how many animations you have on your site.
Personas and branding shouldn’t be seen as disparate things. They should go hand in hand if your want your company’s messaging and brand to be effective. If you’re not thinking of the persona first, then your branding efforts are not helping you grow in the long term.
When you want to grow and develop your business, it’s understandable to want to get started by immediately implementing a demand generation program.
But who will you be targeting with your content if you don’t have personas built?
How are you going to set up effective nurture programs or marketing-sales handoffs if you don’t have the right tech stack in place? You could probably piecemeal a manual process with a marketer and sales rep manually passing on information by running over to each other’s desks. But that’s only a quick win — not a scalable foundation to help you be successful in the long term.
If you don’t have the process in place for a marketing-sales handoff, or you don’t have the right team to hand people off to, or you don’t have the tech stack in place to automate the handoff, you’re not building a framework you can plug people into as your business developments over time.
Implementing a slapdash demand generation strategy might give you some traction since you went from having nothing to having something, but if you spend a month building that foundation out, in five months you’d have exponentially more traction than what you’d achieve by implementing a strategy for instant gratification.
Beth is a Senior Manager of Revenue Operations at New Breed and specializes in optimizing how processes and platforms support revenue growth.