Breaking into business development? What you need to know

Tips & Tricks

Taking the next step

Business development is a vital skill set for any organisation. A quick search on job boards will highlight just how many opportunities there are to progress your career in this specialism. Once in-role, a successful candidate should bring in profitable opportunities. Company owners will, therefore, aim to bring someone on board with a proven, professional and successful approach in order to grow the sales pipeline for the business.

This is equally true for established businesses and for startups. Small business owners tend to be short of time and may be lacking specific sales or business development experience. Bringing on board skills in these areas is vital for growth and longer-term success.

Whilst these responsibilities will have some degree of crossover with the senior management team, customer service, operational and marketing teams, the value of specific business or sales development professionals cannot be understated.

Internal relationships

In a larger organisation, one key to the success of business development professionals is co-ordination across a range of different departments such as sales, project management, marketing, supplier or account management and product ownership. Most medium and large businesses will have specialists in all of these areas, so their sales professionals will understand the value of tapping into their knowledge and networking with all of them. The ability to get colleagues on board with business development activity is also a key component in maximising all relevant sales opportunities.

External relationships

Networking is vital to boost awareness of the brand and the product or service. Word of mouth can often complement any activity focused specifically on marketing for certain products or services, so the ability to establish external networks is invaluable.

Use of marketing for business development

Whilst this networking activity is vital, working closely with marketing is equally important. This ensures effective promotion and targeted advertising at the chosen market, leading to the successful sales of the services or product. Specific tactics will be dependent upon the needs of the business and the marketing budget allocated and will vary significantly. The output of the marketing process is likely to include meetings with prospective clients; nurturing and engagement via a range of online and offline channels; the provision of free samples; and brand awareness through advertising and visibility at industry events or conferences.

The perfect fit

The role involves a great deal of decision making, often at a high level and of a complex nature. This will require those responsible for business development to be aware of the key strengths and weaknesses and unique selling points (USPs) of the products and services. Competitor organisations and their offerings; costs; the target audience and how best to communicate the benefits of the product or service.

The role is by no means easy and requires resilience and a target-driven mindset. As the best business developers are pragmatists. It usually suits a bright and creative mind that is able to adapt quickly to meet the needs of customers. Mistakes will inevitably be made. The best staff in this discipline learn from their mistakes and consistently refine their approach in achieving and beating what are often aggressive sales targets.