The term “business development” means a lot of things to a lot of people. To some, it’s LeadGen robo calls – the more dials, the better. To others it is pure appointment setting. At NuGrowth Solutions, however, we maintain that real business development goes far beyond lead generation or appointment setting.

Think about it this way. Suppose you bought a new chair and got home to find that it only had one leg. You’d be upset and, to say the least, your chair wouldn’t work very well. In much the same way, real new business development needs more than one leg to stand on – all four legs need to be in place to make it work. Why? Because to develop a relationship with a major opportunity you must build and develop relationships with multiple people within the account – not set one appointment.

At its core, Business Development is about uncovering opportunities, acting as a brand steward for an organization, building assets and developing relationships – four legs that will put your sales effort on solid ground.

Leg One: Uncovering Opportunities

A business development professional’s job is to identify new opportunities, new markets and new ways to reach existing markets – to predictably turn a broad undefined base of prospects into a solid batch of qualified opportunities. Doing so is not easy. It takes a hunter mentality, a drive to succeed and a lot of hard work. It can be made easier, however (and more repeatable) when there is a well-defined framework to operate in.

Organizations that do business development well have a distinct methodology/territory management plan for their reps to follow – a plan that covers all aspects of the territory from market research and list management to segmentation, metrics and a consistently executed marketing plan to support and enhance outbound efforts.

For more information on Territory Management, read our August 2011 article,
Creating a Roadmap for Consistent Sales Growth, Repeatability and Scalability.

Leg Two: Brand Stewardship

What is brand stewardship? No matter what the technical definition, pure and simple it is creating positive representation of (and excitement around) an organization or brand.

And really, who better to act as brand steward than a business development professional? In a B2B environment, contact made by a business development professional is often the first touch a prospective buyer will have with an organization. Make a good impression from the start and things can build from there. Make a poor impression and even the best of scenarios become an uphill battle.

For this reason, it is also imperative that any sales collateral – whether sell sheets, a website, a blog, a white paper or an email template – are relevant, grammatically correct and accurately reflect the professionalism of the organization.

Leg Three: Building Assets

On a very base level, one might consider “assets” to be names, titles, phone numbers and email addresses of prospective clients. Without intelligence gained by discovery, however, these are just names in a database. To be an asset, something needs to be of value. To be of value, it has to be qualifiable.

Building assets then is really about discovery and qualification – about taking those names and numbers in the CRM and attaching solid data to them — Data like:

  • Whether or not they are actively considering a change/purchase.
  • If yes, what the timeline to purchase looks like.
  • If no, what would it take to get them to consider change/purchase?
  • The amount budgeted to make this change /purchase.
  • Who the major players are in any decision making process.
  • Other options under consideration.

While this may sound intuitive, if an organization does not create a culture of knowledge shaing and insist that this information be captured and held in a CRM system, it is often information that reps hold closely to the chest – only to leave with them should they choose to go elsewhere.

Leg Four: Developing Relationships

Although finding opportunities, brand stewardship and asset building are all core responsibilities of a business development professional, it is building relationships that completes the circle (or, to use the chair analogy, keeps the chair solidly upright) – because with all the noise in the marketplace these days, people buy from people they like.

In his article, “To Increase Revenue Stop Selling,” Forbes contributor, Mike Myatt made a good case that people don’t want to be sold to, they want a relationship with someone who has the ability to fill their needs and solve their problems – someone who is more interested in finding out about their needs than pitching a product.

The job of a good business development professional is to build that relationship step by step by asking the right questions, being available to respond to concerns, providing relevant educational information and, above all, listening to what prospects have to say and reacting accordingly.

As Myatt wrote, “It’s not about you, your company, your products or your services. It’s about meeting customer needs and adding value. When you start paying more attention to your customer needs than your revenue needs, you’ll find you no longer have a revenue problem to complain about.”

All that said, business development is not just about LeadGen, outbound calling or appointment setting – those are just pieces of the puzzle (not even a whole chair leg). A real business development team takes those pieces and blends them into a comprehensive system that can stand on its own to build a pipeline, generate consistent and relevant opportunities and ultimately close sales.