What is Business Development?

As someone who works in the field, I am often asked “What exactly is business development?”. According to Scott Pollock, a contributor to Forbes Business Magazine,

“Business development is the creation of long-term organizational value from customers, markets and relationships”.

Business development is more than sales. It is more than just managing customers. According to Scott, business development is all about understanding how the interactions between customers, markets and relationships work together to create opportunities for growth.

Knowing your customers and markets is important, but it is the relationships a company has that becomes its lifeblood. Any successful business development initiative is based on trust, respect and providing perceived mutual value. There are no short cuts, nor can business development be based on a win/lose scenario. Both parties must perceive organizational value for it to be truly successful.

Business development works hand in hand with sales in order to achieve key sales related goals such as growing revenues and increasing the number of customers. As well, business development must be aligned with marketing to achieve marketing related goals such as the number of prospects or the conversion of prospects to sales. Finally, business development needs to be aligned with the organization’s strategic goals. In most cases, the most logistical acquisition targets to help grow the organization are those that are potentially the best fit strategically, and the first step in securing an acquisition is most often establishing a relationship.

Business development works to achieve both short-term tactical goals such as growing sales as well as long-term strategic goals such as investment or acquisition. Ultimately, the purpose of business development is to help grow the business by making it more competitive, by improving its products or services and by focusing on specific customers and markets to sustain growth.

Those involved in business development need to be able to truly understand their industry, company and customers and have an ability to create long lasting relationships by possessing strong communication and collaboration skills.

It is after all an art derived at the intersection of customers, markets and relationships.

Ken MacQuarrie, P.Ag, MBA
Senior Advisor

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