By John Kenney, Cotney Consulting Group.
I often find that individuals and companies do not understand the function of business development. It is frequently confused with sales or considered part of marketing. However, when developing a business development strategy for your company, it is crucial to include marketing and sales as essential components. These three aspects complement and depend on each other, but they are not the same. Similarly, building a sales and marketing strategy with your business development goals in mind would be best.
Business development at your startup will differ significantly from business development at a more mature company as it grows. This is because the business development role changes as a company grows. What is valuable in the beginning differs from what is beneficial as the company's goals evolve with growth.
During the early stages of your company or when you first add business development to your business operations, the most significant opportunity is to create long-term value by finding customers to validate your product or service market fit. If you cannot find traction within a few months of launching, your business survival will be challenging. Validating your services with customers helps confirm whether your business has a solid foundation for building a future.
In the early stages of a company's business development program, having a sales-focused business owner is integral. Many company owners are operationally focused, and their expertise is needed in running the business. In this scenario, the business is best served by hiring someone to fill the business development position.
As your company becomes more established, growth opportunities begin to expand. You will consider new customers and markets as new growth opportunities become apparent. The business development role now needs to focus on evaluating the best lanes to pursue with existing customers. You must carefully manage a growth stage with business development activities to not overextend your limited resources and people's valuable time.
Business development is about building relationships. Your relationship and partnership building are all focused on connecting your company to the right customers most advantageously and innovatively possible. Communicating your company's value to tap into its customer base works best. Working with internal teams with proper communication and relationship building is equally important.
You must maintain a balance with your growth opportunities. Partnering with too many companies with different business interests from yours will hurt your conversion rates. On the flip side, too many good partnerships too fast can make your company unprepared for that additional growth.
Testimonials boost the credibility of you and your business. You must work all your network connections and get a big name client to write you a testimonial. For all businesses, large and small, the business's success depends heavily on word of mouth, and testimonials are a meaningful form of customer experience supporting that concept. They are useful tools when it comes to strengthening your branding.
Customer feedback ties it all in and is one of the most important inputs for your business development program. It helps improve development targets, marketing, operations and so much more. Ensuring that you align your product and service offerings with what your customers genuinely want is critical information. Moving ahead to other projects without considering this could result in a poor market fit for your business.
Business development is now fundamental for your business to achieve sustainable growth. The primary focus is creating long-term value rather than a quick cash solution.
As a business developer, you must align your company's overall strategy with business development to explore synergies and embrace an innovative and iterative mindset while creatively thinking about everything you know and don't know about the business. You must also closely monitor and analyze key drivers of growth.
In conclusion, business development is essential for any company looking to achieve sustainable growth. It is often misunderstood and confused with sales or marketing, but it is a distinct role that complements and depends upon these other functions. The business development role evolves as a company grows, and it requires a different focus at each stage of development. Maintaining balance and managing growth opportunities effectively is critical to avoid overextending resources. Communication, relationship building and customer feedback are all integral to successful business development. By aligning the overall company strategy with business development goals, companies can explore synergies and embrace an innovative mindset to drive growth.
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