It’s the magic thing that people do that turns little companies into giant empires. It’s what makes great CEOs and revolutionizes whole markets and companies.
But what is it?I meet plenty of Biz Dev people who “don’t do marketing or sales because they’re focused on biz dev.” These people are full of baloney. They literally have no idea what they’re talking about. In some magic dream world, they believe that developing a business is just networking and handing out business cards and proposing ideas. That is not business development. That’s networking. The problem with conflating the two is that they are totally different and important things in the company that serve very different purposes.Normal people refer to “Biz Dev” as Business Development. Most people tend to disagree on the specifics of its definition. But ultimately, it boils down to one thing: make the business grow.
For simplicity’s sake we can think of Biz Dev as the actionable strategy a company puts in place to grow the business. This could mean creating, implementing and monitoring a marketing plan. It could mean budgeting for, going to and presenting at a trade fair. It could even be as simple as adding a new product to sell through the business.
Any and everything in a business is an active part of business development. You may wonder as to why then should we pay attention to it separately as one more thing to think about. After all, if we’re already doing all this other stuff, aren’t we actively doing “biz dev” anyways?
The short answer is yes and no.
Biz Dev, in my opinion, isn’t a thing you do. It’s a framework to contextualize and decide where to focus on the things that you do. Think of all the elements that make up a business and how they work to serve up value to your customers. Biz Dev is the process of pulling back and seeing the picture as a whole and then focusing on where there are opportunities to grow the business – whether it’s in customer service, marketing, or something else.
I had coffee with a friend of mine at a real estate startup here in New York. He’s the VP of sales and the team is growing rapidly. He told me that they’d finally decided to put a CRM into place to track sales. Here’s why:
Because they’re a startup and things are moving fast, the team had been disorganized and hadn’t really been keeping tabs on sales data. But things have been growing so no one had really worried about putting a system in place. After all, the growth chart was moving up and to the right so that’s that.
Except that, as he explained to the rest of the team, there was no way to tell which things we’re doing are working and which things are not working. And even though sales were going well, it wasn’t clear why. Without some sort of structure and strategy, the team had no vision as to how best to grow the company. In this context, assured business development was an impossibility.
Implementing a CRM was a simple step to doing this because it immediately gave the team quick wins. For the first time since he started, my friend could sit down with a sales rep and show them exactly how many cold calls they needed to make to hit their numbers each and every month. The marketing team could finally understand the strength of their conversion on retargeting ads.
Business development is about creating more vision for your team and giving you confidence to execute new ideas and refine ones that are already in place. Don’t worry about the Biz Dev guys and gals with their fancy suits and power lunches. Those things can work, but only if the foundation is set and the vision is clear.