Ask ten business development professionals what the term means, and you are likely to receive 10 different answers. Marketing plays out differently between firms; similarly, business development may differ significantly depending on which individuals work within an organization.
Business development entails creating long-term value for an organization through markets, relationships and customers. To do so successfully, a business development strategy must include setting SMART goals and conducting a SWOT analysis.
Market research, both exploratory and predictive, is one of the primary components of business development. While its tasks vary based on industry type and specific objectives, they typically involve identifying potential growth opportunities.
As an example, a start-up could use market research to assess consumer demand for its product or service and reduce risks and give investors confidence. Meanwhile, small companies without sufficient resources for full marketing teams might use market research as a way to promote their brand and attract new users.
Established businesses also take advantage of this function to identify new revenue streams and partnerships, such as conducting a SWOT analysis to assess their competitiveness or customer satisfaction surveys that produce sales content for marketing campaigns. Furthermore, businesses may use this information to make cost-cutting decisions when market surveys suggest increased spending is unnecessary – for instance cutting travel expenses when results suggest it.
A SWOT analysis helps businesses develop strategies and plans aimed at capitalizing on strengths, mitigating threats and minimising weaknesses. Businesses frequently employ this form of analysis when coming up with new plans or strategies; its best used in group settings with multiple people contributing their expertise for an honest, complete and accurate picture of the business’s situation.
Strengths and weaknesses are internal factors within a business that they have control over, such as staff or intellectual property, while opportunities and threats may include external influences like customer shopping trends or prices for raw materials.
SWOT analysis results are typically presented in a 2 x 2 grid that shows both internal strengths and weaknesses as well as external opportunities and threats to a company, before being prioritized into a strategic plan for their future. It’s especially useful for firms seeking capital or planning to launch new products.
Setting goals is an integral element of business development. Setting specific, measurable, attainable and time bound objectives enables organizations to connect their strategic objectives to tangible measures of performance while making any necessary adjustments as required.
Bethany works as the Director of Business Development for an architectural firm, where she does not deliver projects directly, but instead is focused on finding new opportunities that her firm may sign on with and working with. She collaborates closely with Greg, the lead architect at her firm.
Due to their close connection, business development and sales roles may seem similar from an outside viewpoint. This can cause some confusion regarding accountability for goals and actions not always aligning. To avoid such miscommunication, business development and sales should collaborate frequently in order to help their company stay on track while increasing customer retention rates.
Strategic planning involves setting growth objectives for an organization and developing an action plan to reach them, typically over an extended period that can span several years.
Formulating a strategy to reach a growth goal typically involves the collaboration of various departments within an organization, including sales, marketing and finance. Outside consultants may be hired as facilitators to assist with developing this plan and help determine where their organization should head next.
Business development departments will need an in-depth knowledge of their company’s target audience in order to effectively identify prospective customers and partners. Furthermore, this team should also assess if an individual customer meets company criteria before providing appropriate boundaries to ensure outreach representatives only engage with qualified prospects.
Business development often encourages new ways of thinking and operating within an organization, making it an excellent career option for individuals who are creative, self-motivated, and possess exceptional communication skills.