Business Development – Why?
I’m constantly amazed, at what people say about business development and the reasons they hire bdm’s.
So I thought it was appropriate to get something straight, before I launch into why business development is something every business owner should be keenly aware of and invest in; even if it is something you do yourself within the business.
What is Business Development?
Business development is simply any task that improves or creates long-term value for an organisation. This includes adding to the customer base and improving brand awareness, brand experience, customer relationships, market development and setting up more efficient ways of operating from a sales and marketing perspective. It can be taken to mean any activity which serves the purpose of ‘developing’ the business in some way.
As you can see this fits well within both the marketing and sales scope of works and should be an integral part of any leadership’s strategic planning.
All business owners want to grow their profits right? Mostly, but there are so many different ways to grow profits!
I believe the catalyst for a very large percentage of sales roles being in ‘business development’ is because there is a huge misconception about what the BD profession is all about.
Business development professionals are actually all-rounders in marketing, sales and also strategic business planning. They should be hired and given the authority to look, think, advise and act to improve the long-term prospects of the businesses they work for.
What BD is not
One of the very curious things for me as a career bdm – is that the main task most bdm’s are hired to do, is to raise cold leads for new business opportunities.
Business Development (as noted above) is an ‘all-rounder’ profession, not about always direct selling, not about being a marketing guru or about running a business’s strategic plan.
The common misconception about ‘just raising new business’ in my mind, is what has held a lot of companies back.
Now we could leave it there… but that would not really serve the purpose of the article.
So baring this in mind, why do you think a bdm should be hired?
Why should you hire a BDM?
In my mind it’s simple… if you have a roadblock to growing sales or becoming more profitable, efficient or want to diversify your portfolio etc… task a bdm with the job to at least investigate and start to right a strategic plan to ‘get it done’.
That’s right, they need to be given the space and time to actually develop more value for a business… not just develop new leads and sell.
Not knowing “how or where to start” is a problem, but there are people with a specialty that can help… BDM’s are great problem solvers and have some knowledge that crosses the boarders from marketing to sales!
If you want new business, get your marketing sorted with a business development professional forging the way with a solid strategy – not throwing them out in the cold with no support to bang on doors!
Marketing is not all about advertising. A large percentage of small to medium enterprise in Australia tend to say “we need to do some marketing, because we don’t have enough sales”. While you should do marketing continuously, BDM’s tend to be hired to be the physical marketing without any thought of putting a business development professional into the Marketing Mix = within the marketing strategy.
A marketing strategy is a part of the overall strategy of a business, with the specific purpose of detailing HOW the business will connect with the existing customers and reach the potential customers and turn them into warm leads and opportunities for the product or service that the business provides.
Make sure you are creating a system from which to not only put the right messages out, but also to manage the online reputation of the business.
Getting a business development manager to be a part of or in charge of the marketing strategy and overall sales plan is not a bad option – especially if you don’t have a dedicated sales or marketing manager. Why? Bdm’s think in a different way, because of their nature and training (if they’ve had any) they will be analytical and find solutions to the needs of the business.
Sales people of all different specialties are often tasked with being a company’s only marketing effort, instead of doing the job they were hired to do = sell!
As with marketing, bdm’s are not your typical sales people, albeit they are sales people. If you just have a business development professional selling to your existing accounts as account managers or just raising new business and managing those accounts… something in them will soon snap, because their nature is not to manage accounts.
Bdm’s are great sales people, because they are in it for the long haul relationship and they also like developing relationships for the company.
Slotting a bdm into a sales team where part of their job is to investigate how to work with your existing customers in a more holistic way – is a great way to use their analytical and strategic planning skills.
If you have a potential customer that you have been trying to win for many years. Task someone with a business development mind to formulate a plan to attract them and also acquire them as a lead and then nurture them into becoming a customer.
Effective Marketing within business development
The main objective of business development is to improve the value within a business. Effective marketing is a great place to start – and not a lot of SME’s do this well.
I love this quote from my Great, great uncle Henry Ford
stopping advertising to save money is like stopping your watch to save time
Part of growing any business is effective advertising, and where better to promote your business than where a majority of people are looking for answers to their buying questions?
Hiring a senior business development professional will help align the marketing and sales functions so that the priorities are actioned and a plan is not only written but analysed to refine as you go. Basic online marketing skills are an essential part of any good bdm’s toolbox. They should at least know the do’s and don’ts, and why you should implement this social media strategy over that one.
The internet is where 90% of people in Australia search to find answers to their buying questions – before they purchase just about anything.
Here are some stats to help you understand the implications of one simple thing that will help you and should be within the scope of ability – for a good bdm in today’s marketing and sales worlds.
Online Reputation Management!
- 84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation
- 74% of consumers say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more
- Businesses risk losing 22% of business when potential customers find one negative article on the first page of their search results
With the way that Google has setup their search algorithm, it is even more likely that people will go elsewhere if you are not managing your online reputation well.
Why am I talking about the internet so much?
Google is only one platform, but is where over 90% of people do their searching prior to buying. Similar stats exist for social media – which I don’t need to go into – because we’re all on it!
The percentage of not doing business with your company increases significantly because Google brings in “authoritative sites” such as trip advisor, true local, google my business listing, Yelp reviews etc… as part of the search results – about your business.
In conclusion to this section… marketing your business effectively in the places that the majority of your potential customers are looking, is key to growing your business. You would do well to learn how to “work the system”, or employ someone who knows how and can prove it to you in a conversation… a good business development professional should be one of these people.
As noted above business development should be an integral part of any strategic planning exercise that a business undertakes. Many SME’s don’t even have a single page plan and strategy document, let alone a brand positioning statement.
BD professionals will be able to assist with the research and thinking behind a complex plan and strategy as well as writing a simple plan (which is better than not having one).
Having a strategic plan will give the whole company a better focus and will allow you to have the basis for a solid online marketing plan including an online reputation management system – if none exists at the moment. This will also allow you to share and instil these principles of management into your business practices. Therefore automation and systemisation will also be able to take hold and help you to become more successful with the implementation of the plans and strategies to become more successful in marketing, sales and business in general!
The Alongside Difference
We believe in partnering with and helping people. If you orient your business around being helpful and putting the customers needs before yours (as long as those customers are your target market) you will actually do better business and be able to charge more for it – in most cases.
We are in business to partner with people to properly diagnose the root cause of the roadblock to their business growth – from a sales and marketing perspective. Online Reputation management is a serious problem that we are keen to help people understand by guiding them through the reasons, areas to look at and solutions to this big problem.
Our aim is to lead businesses into growth, through the growth cycle and out into continuously growth outcomes.
Business Growth Simplified!
Wrapping it all together
Wrapping it all up… without knowing your business it is nigh on impossible to advise where and how best to start… accept – start with google and work your way out from there.
Every business is slightly different. Following these points above as an initial guide will start to get you and your business further down the path of getting more benefit from your marketing efforts.
Yes we do have packages – like every other marketing company, however they all need to be modified for your business, your budget and your goals.
Give us a call if you would like some help to start or ramp up your journey of growth.
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About the Author
Matthew Benn is the founding partner of Alongside Business Consulting. He has been a senior BD and sales leader for 12 years, as well as being a small business owner for more than 8 years; recently starting Alongside Business Consulting (his fourth business). He really enjoys the challenges and successes that come with developing people and growing businesses, hence has taken these passions and started the management consulting firm with a twist. The plan is to help business owners take control of their destinies and build their businesses simply…Business Growth Simplified.