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What is Business Development?

Business Development Under The Microscope

As an entrepreneur eager to start a business, you’re very familiar with researching, gathering information and planning. You’ve thought through your goals, you’ve found the need you’ll address with your product or service, you’ve made plans and formed teams. Whether you’re aware or not, all of these steps are part of business development. 

So what, exactly, is business development?

Business Development Explained

Business development, sometimes referred to as biz dev, is a process that considers all the factors that drive growth and foster increased revenue. Business development happens both inside and outside the organization. This broad term can entail many things — ideas, activities, initiatives and more, developed and implemented with long-term growth in mind. 

Frequently, sales is used interchangeably with business development. However, business development is more of a marketing strategy that generates a business opportunity before it gets to the sales aspect. For example, your company can invest in a marketing ad to attract new clients- this is the strategy. Once the clients are in the door, the sales team follows through with these prospects to ensure your company turns these prospects into leads, and turns the leads into sales.

The Importance of Business Development

Successful business development activities are extremely important to the expansion of your company. If you want to see growth in your organization, your business development strategies should support these goals. Every activity you put in place feeds directly from your developmental needs and into your sales goals. It’s all interconnected, which is why your methods should be well-planned, taking into account expansion projects and methods to gain income, among other business decisions.

As you grow, your business development needs will change. As a startup, your business development activities will be directed toward building a rock-solid foundation. Your business development activities will focus on things like finding and establishing your niche in the market, gaining a positive reputation, building brand recognition and more. As you transition into an established business, your business development activities should transition into sustainability plans. You want to concentrate on adding value to your current offerings, nurturing your customer relationships, expanding into new markets and more. The process of business development is fluid and requires an openness to constant change — but throughout the life of a business, the business development plans can and should always be prioritized.

Business Development Strategies

If you think about the word “strategy,” it immediately implies making a plan where the result is a great accomplishment. Therefore your business development strategies need to be designed to create revenue. Without a solid business development plan, your team can spin their wheels, leaving prospects on the table or spending months working on a prospect that will never convert into a sale. When you strategize, these are some things you need to excel:

1. You need to create and maintain a good network.

Networking can be tiresome, but it is a proven winner for business growth. This strategy is grounded in creating and maintaining relationships. The more like-minded people you know and interact with, the more likely you will gain new business from these acquaintances. 

2. Referrals

Referrals are a direct spin-off from your networking efforts. Creating relationships where your network knows what you offer means they’re likely to share your business with their friends and family. As you serve this group, they, in turn, continue to spread the word about your company.

3. Understand your Target Audience

Focus on the specific groups that make up your ideal audience, and direct your marketing and business development efforts to that audience. Challenge your team to create buyer personas, narrow down your audience’s behaviors and create your marketing for that target audience.

4. Use Testimonials 

An excellent way to get people to “look” is to have your clients tell them to pay attention. Success stories help you to say to the market that you offer a good product or service. They also help to take your business plans from detached and lackluster to engaging. People want to feel engaged in what you are offering. Tailoring your testimonials to your prospects will help make them really work for you.

Business Development Can Create Long-Term Value

Growing your business and taking the right steps to maintain and sustain that growth can be challenging, yet business development efforts are essential to every business. Finding the strategies that work for your business and the stage you’re in can pay off in major ways, resulting in an abundance of growth opportunities.