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Blog entry by Yara Ali

Business Developer

Business Developer

If you think it's important that customers hear a human voice on the phone, you hire a receptionist. If your business model pivots on face-to-face sales, you hire a salesperson. When you need someone to manage and support those clients, you hire a client services representative, but how do you know when you should hire a business developer?

Before you consider a list of potential responsibilities that a business developer could manage for your small business, it may help to think of a business developer as one part salesperson and one-part public relations professional. Since you can tailor the specific responsibilities of this position to meet your business's needs, it's easy to see why more small-business owners are hiring or contracting with a business developer to fill a pivotal niche and help make their business more profitable.

What Are the Basics of Business Development?

In the simplest terms, business development can be summarized as the ideas, initiatives, and activities that help make a business better. This includes increasing revenues, growth in terms of business expansion, and increasing profitability by building strategic partnerships, and making strategic business decisions.

“Business Development Executive,” “Manager of Business Development,” and “VP, Business Development” are all impressive job titles often heard in business organizations. Sales, strategic initiatives, business partnerships, market development, business expansion, and marketing—all of these fields are involved in business development but are often mixed up and mistakenly viewed as the sole function of business development. 

Understanding the Basics of Business Development

Business development activities extend across different departments, including sales, marketing, project management, product management, and vendor management. Networking, negotiations, partnerships, and cost-savings efforts are also involved. All of these different departments and activities are driven by and aligned with the business development goals. 

For instance, a business has a product or service, which is successful in one region, such as the United States. The business development team assesses further expansion potential. After all, due diligence, research, and studies, it finds that the product or service can be expanded to a new region, such as Brazil.

  • Sales

    Sales personnel focus on a particular market or a particular (set of) client(s), often for a targeted revenue number. In this case, business development assesses the Brazilian markets and concludes that sales worth $1.5 billion can be achieved in three years. With such set goals, the sales department targets the customer base in the new market with their sales strategies.

  • Marketing

    Marketing involves promotion and advertising aimed towards the successful sale of products to end customers. Marketing plays a complementary role in achieving sales targets. Business development initiatives may allocate an estimated marketing budget. Higher budgets allow aggressive marketing strategies like cold calling, personal visits, roadshows, and free sample distribution. Lower budgets tend to result in passive marketing strategies, such as limited online ads, print ads, social media ads, and billboards.

  • Strategic Initiatives or Partnerships

    To enter a new market, will it be worth going solo by clearing all required formalities, or will it be more sensible to form a strategic alliance or partnership with local firms already operating in the region? Assisted by legal and finance teams, the business development team weighs all of the pros and cons of the available options and selects the one that best serves the business.

  • Project Management/Business Planning

    Does the business expansion require a new facility in the new market, or will all the products be manufactured in the base country and then imported into the targeted market? Will the latter option require an additional facility in the base country? The business development team based on their cost- and time-related assessments finalizes such decisions. Then, the project management/implementation team swings into action to work towards the desired goal.

  • Product Management

    Regulatory standards and market requirements vary across countries. A medicine of a certain composition may be allowed in India but not in the United Kingdom, for example. Does the new market require a customized—or altogether new—version of the product?

    These requirements drive the work of product management and manufacturing departments, as decided by the business strategy. Cost consideration, legal approvals, and regulatory adherence are all assessed as a part of a business development plan.

Business Developer Key Functions

Business developers are also known as business development directors. In general, this person typically focuses on three crucial functions, indeed says:

  • Identifying new business opportunities.
  • Maintaining relationships with existing clients.
  • Working closely with the business owner on a business growth strategy and then devising an action plan with goals and objectives.

A business development professional is not necessarily a sale closer, but he could learn to be with time and your tutelage. Nor does he necessarily spend the majority of his time out in the field building strong ties between your business and community groups and organizations, but he could if it's important to you. The fact is, the focus of his time and energies could take him wherever you need support: sales, marketing, management and operations, PR or a blend of all these activities. Ultimately, a business developer's days should be filled with tasks that support the title: developing your business to its fullest potential.

Some small-business owners narrow the focus even more. They sign a business development professional to a specialized service contract to carry out one or two key projects that might be too time-consuming for their full-time staff or that are outside of their skill set. For example, if making your presence known in professional organizations has always been on your radar, a business developer could ingratiate himself with these groups on your behalf, thereby fulfilling that one-part salesperson, one part PR pro template.

Seize the Opportunities:

If your wheels are turning, but you're still unsure how you could make the best use of a business developer, refer to your SWOT analysis. The opportunities section could be fertile ground for a business developer to till, along with other tasks that Better team says often come with the turf:

  • Research business or economic trends and recommend viable new growth strategies.
  • Explore opportunities to submit requests for proposals (RFPs).
  • Create strategic alliances among similar but non-competing businesses.
  • Organize community outreach initiatives, such as company open houses and speaking events.
  • Become a company's twin subject matter expert and PR representative and write regular blogs for the company website or post news to social media platforms.
You can see how coming up with a list of required skills is directly related to the job description you write. If you already have a professional writer on your staff or on contract, for example, you could eliminate that part of the job description.
Still, Inc. suggests that a person in this role should have a background (or at least an interest) in:
  • Business growth.
  • Finance.
  • Negotiations.
  • Sales
Although you might have to prioritize or eliminate one of these criteria, suggests that other skills are probably non-negotiable:
  • Business intelligence.
  • Collaboration.
  • Communication and interpersonal abilities.
  • Computer aptitude.
  • Persuasion.
  • Project management.
  • Research and strategy.

Check out our courses for business development professional, which allows can reinvigorate a business, recommend new options and fresh approaches, don’t miss our free subscription and sign in now.

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