I don’t know about you but I have often wondered about business development. it’s usually the headache of some, if not all entrepreneurs especially the ones just starting out.
Strategizing on the other hand is even more of a concern, as that is at the core or business productivity and sustenance.
However, they are not rocket science so let’s talk about it already.
It is generally believed that business development is marketing and sales but it is broader; you can find multiple definitions of the subject.
What Is Business Development?
When we talk about business development, what do we mean exactly?
Business Development is a set of strategies, processes, and tasks, that actually lead to the achievement of business objectives for new product development, sector, or company project.
It is the activity of pursuing strategic opportunities for a specific business or organization, for instance by cultivating partnerships or other commercial relationships or identifying new markets for its products or services.
It includes all the areas of the company that are decisive for the success of the project, starting with setting a strategy involving not only marketing and sales, but also processes, technology innovation, and resources in general.
Business development refers to the multidisciplinary management for defining products and services, aimed at strengthening its marketing, definition of new opportunities, creation of needs, and design of an alliance strategy.
In this sense, the person in charge of business development defines how the business should evolve so as not to stagnate, but rather grow to the heights of global reckoning.
It is very common to confuse business development with marketing or sales. Nevertheless, it is important to know that, although there must be a close synergy between them, they are differentiated areas, where each one has its functions.
Let’s say that business development goes before the remainder of the areas defining the strategies for the progress of the business, taking advantage of the opportunities within the environment or creating them, and also establishing the required synergies with external entities.
What Does A Business Development Department Do?
Identify and seize opportunities: It must identify and cash in on the opportunities offered by the environment, like markets with high potential that haven’t yet been exploited, whether it’s the extension to new geographical areas or the event of the latest products and/or services. Also, it must have the power to make opportunities that cause business growth, anticipating market movements.
Create opportunities if there aren’t any: Business development must have the ability to create opportunities that lead to business growth and to even anticipate market movements such that it can harness the possibilities that are in view before it is obvious.
Establish synergies: For business growth, it’s necessary to determine strategic alliances with external entities, either to expand to new geographical areas, develop of latest products and/or services, secure new suppliers to strengthen the present value chain of the business, develop latest/better processes of operations, etc. Synergies with third parties are a key element within the evolution of any business.
Innovate: The business development department must go hand in hand with innovation, both in technology and in business processes. This is of great relevance today, because of the constant and rapid evolution of technology and society. Staying static in the face of these changes is allowing oneself to be overthrown within the market war that companies are subjected to today.
Asking the questions that no one else asks: Business development must go beyond reality, custom, routine. You must always inquire about how to do things differently, and how to improve current processes. To think that everything can be improved and that no procedure is written in stone.
These tasks can be done internally or externally.
Through Business Development;
– Policies or regulations that have to be respected are monitored.
– Consumer perception and the company’s impact on communities are regularly observed.
– Opportunities for image enhancement and potential improvement in these areas are identified and discussed.
– Selling directly to customers through product demos or presentations is another area of focus in business development.
We can also say that it is the creation of long-term value by an organization or an individual to customers, markets, and mutual relationships. Increasing the revenue and profits of a product line or the company is the main function of business development in general.
Parts That Makeup Business Development;
Observation and investigation of business opportunities.
Assessment of short, medium, and long-term returns.
Strategies for implementation
Design of operations and areas involved
Financial needs study
Business action plan.
The areas and departments involved must be coordinated for the successful end of the project.
Digital Business Development
The Internet broke in a long time ago but companies are still not taking full advantage of it and the potential that this medium has.
While it is true that all large companies have web digital content, and social networks, SMEs are further from squeezing these resources that are also free.
Although most SMEs have web pages, how many of them fulfill a definitive function when it comes to transmitting the image of the company and convincing themselves of being a better alternative than the competition?
The transformation to the digital age is fundamental due to many image and optimization factors.
Optimization and Digital tools allow significant time savings and improve the organization, which ultimately translates into cost savings and therefore increased profits.
If your business development model is only traditional, don’t despair. This does not mean that traditional methods have to disappear, far from it, face-to-face sales will never disappear or at least I believe that I will not see it as it remains the easiest means. Winks
The online business is complementary, the B2B (business to business) sale, or the B2C (business to customer) sale in establishments, will follow the procedures of the company’s sales manual.
The online tools will complement the face-to-face ones, reinforcing your image and credibility, and also opt for an extraordinary business from the Internet.
For this to be effective, you will need someone in charge of your business development, call him or her A BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR – he or she is responsible for the development and implementation of a growth plan.
The Director of Business Development manages a sales team or partners with other related sales departments to determine the most effective way to grow the company’s business. He is also in charge of;
– Evaluating financial data and developing analysis reports.
– Discovering new opportunities through market research and analysis.
– Developing strategies for new products and services that can better meet both the needs of the market and the business.
– Developing and maintaining relationships, both internally and externally.
– May need to partner with an internal sales team or sales coordinator to implement new growth strategies.
– Presenting recommendations to company executives based on financial data and market analysis.
– Establishing alliances with external vendors is an additional related relationship task.
– The functions of this type of manager involve analysis of the internal financial data of the company to reach a conclusion or identify opportunities.
For example, he or she may determine that the manufacturing cost of a shoe product line is higher than the industry average. Based on this data, a new supplier or manufacturing process could be recommended to reduce costs and potentially increase the profit margin of the company.
– The public perception and image of a company or a certain product line is also a concern for a business development manager.
In general, the main function of a business development manager is to identify opportunities and carry out the best productive strategies for the growth of a company.
Certain sales targets could be determined by the manager alone or in conjunction with company executives. Potential customers are identified based on profitability and mutual need.
Business Development: Ten Practical Tips to Do It Successfully
It is becoming more and more common on Utopsolutions to find positions in which business development skills are part of the necessary skills. It is very common, even, to find the position of “Business Developer” or “Business Development Manager” instead of what we have always called “Sales Commercial”.
The new ecosystem of the digital economy has led to the existence of a multitude of start-ups with innovative projects and value proposals that contribute a lot to the market.
On the other hand, there are also markets where competition is enormous. For this reason, the profile dedicated to business development is increasingly important, capable of presenting to the market and closing agreements with your new product, service, or proposal in a dizzying competitive environment.
Being a business developer isn’t a simple task. From my point of view, the business development function requires certain seniority (not necessarily in age, but in professional trajectory), as well as tons of intelligence and application to detect opportunities.
Therefore, the degree of experience, reliability, and reputation of the business developer is vital to its success.
Taking all of the above into account, I would like to share with you ten tips that will help you to be a good business developer.
10 Commandments to Be Successful In Business Development:
Always be alert to any opportunity. With experience, a first intuition is usually important, but I can guarantee you that it is by no means definitive.
Be generous with your network of contacts. I recommend that you first help and then ask. Spend time with others, do favors without asking for anything in return. People perceive when you are only an interested party and it will take a toll on you in the medium term. You never know where the person in front of you who needs your help will be tomorrow.
Have hobbies and let the rest know about them. Golf, fishing, reading, chess, cinema, football, hiking … whatever! They will help you connect with others and create bonds. Business development consists mainly of that; creating links with people with whom you’ll do business in the future.
Create your ecosystem of contacts.
Attend forums and events in your sector actively and with a purpose. It is important to be up-to-date and understand what is going on. Attending events is demanding because emails continue to enter our inbox, but it is important if we want to keep up to date and find new opportunities.
To be active, you have to prepare for the event before it occurs; see which companies enter, who you are interested in knowing, who you are interested in visiting or what presentations they can give you. If you do not prepare it in advance, you may waste your time.
You have 48 hours to establish contact with the person you have met and who is interested in your network of contacts. Find any excuse, but send an email so that you “are located” when you contact again.
Take an interest in the business of others. You will get better results in developing businesses if you get potential clients to talk about their needs instead of listening to you about how good you are.
Personalize your Utopsolutions messages. I get awkward, non-personalized messages from people I don’t know who just accepted their contact. My recommendation is that, if you want to develop business with strangers through the network, send a personalized message in which you show real interest in your interlocutor (or that, at least, you have dedicated a minimum of time).
I also advise that you allow some time to pass between the established contact and the proposal you want to make. Finally, I also suggest that the first message you send is of help and not so much of a sale.
Look long term. The best business developers I know have the peculiarity that almost everyone speaks well of them. Earning the credibility and trust of others takes time and, in many cases, missing a short-term opportunity.
Work on your reputation and the prestige of your brand authentically. Remember what Amazon founder Jeff Bezos says: “Personal branding is what others say about you when you are not in the room.” It’s not so much about what you say about yourself, but what others talk about you. There is only one way to do this, work on personal and professional excellence.
I hope that some of these tips will help you.
SUSTAINABLE BUSINESS STRATEGY
An examination of the competence of the company and its activity will almost certainly come into play in the development strategy.
The company’s current resources and its overall strategic goals are incorporated into the manager’s business plan. An evaluation of the results of the implementation of the plan is carried out to evaluate the opportunities for improvement and future generation of income.
As always, you cannot miss the strategy. Through strategy, business development defines how the business will evolve, always taking into account corporate objectives, as well as the mission and vision of the company. Without a strategy, it is practically impossible to obtain results, since actions will only be carried out motivated by improvisation without pursuing a common goal.
The activities carried out by this department must be framed in a work methodology and a business development plan with well-defined objectives, aligned with the organizational objectives and the global strategy of the company, thus avoiding the improvisation that may entail errors that harm the company.
In today’s changing market, it is essential to have a business development department that is 100% focused on seeking opportunities for evolution and defining strategies to adapt to changes quickly and even anticipate them. In this way, the company advances at the speed of the market changes.
If your company has not considered including business development as part of its core functions and does not have the necessary professional muscle to do so with the current staff, it is time to look for experts on the subject, professionals with the knowledge and the experience necessary to visualize and take advantage of the opportunities that will grow your business. Today, losing an opportunity can translate into failure for a company, without going back.
The company must be prepared for its evolution, in this sense knowing how to manage change is necessary. Business development and change management are two sides of the same coin.
“Creativity without strategy is called “art”. Creativity with strategy is called “advertising.” – Jef I. Richards
The same thing happens with sustainability. If there is no strategy, you may do cool things, but when you formulate one, you get results.
To do beautiful things, the artist is already there, so let’s see what sustainability strategy is and why it is taking time to create one for your business.
What Is A Sustainability Strategy?
First of all, it may be very obvious to you, but we are constantly surprised by the number of people who think that it is only the environment.
And it is not a lie; the environment is sustainable, but only part of it. Being sustainable implies having a balance between the economic, social, and environmental scope of the business.
If any of these pillars fail you, your business is not sustainable, it is something else:
ECONOMIC + ENVIRONMENTAL = VIABLE. This is when your business meets economic growth taking into account the protection of the environment.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
ECONOMIC + SOCIAL = EQUITABLE. Here, you distribute resources and participation equitably so that social inequalities are reduced. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
SOCIAL + ENVIRONMENTAL = SUPPORTABLE. In this case, your project contributes to caring for the environment and its healthier well-being.
Now that everything is clearer, what then is a sustainable business strategy?
A sustainable business strategy involves planning a series of thoughtful actions whose purpose is to provide social, environmental, and economic value.
It is clear that it is not only planning, but they have to be carried out, right?
Benefits of Incorporating a Sustainable Business Strategy
Improved brand image and competitive advantage: It is no coincidence that the big brands do not stop releasing “sustainable” products. They are not stupid; they know that this improves their image and that more and more customers are looking at the values of the brand before buying.
According to a study carried out around the world by Unilever, 33% of consumers choose sustainable brands, but the thing rises to 78% in the US and above 80% in emerging countries.
So if you want customers to love you, sustainability will be your ally. But clients are not stupid either and if something does not match your message, they will notice. Once you have lost their trust, you will never get it back. So plan and define a coherent strategy.
Increase productivity and reduce costs: Critics of sustainability (because everything in this world has people against it) claim that sustainable business practices swallow up profits. – I am still wondering where they got the theory from.
Sustainability helps us to be efficient, optimize effort and conserve resources, which improves employee productivity and reduces costs.
Yes! The actions that have a greater impact are more expensive to implement, but the long-term results justify the investment.
Increases ability to comply with legislation: In the coming years, things are going to have to get much more serious in terms of environmental and social legislation.
Integrating sustainability into your business will help you to face the new regulations easily since you will be one step ahead and you will not have to worry about anything.
Attract employees and investors: As already discussed, sustainability attracts not only customers. People like to associate with other positive people and do not want to be tied to companies involved in ecological disasters and social welfare scandals.
Show that your company is respectful of the environment and with your employees and you will attract the quality of people you want to employ and the funds that your company needs to expand.
To give you an idea, the seventh sustainability report of the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) in collaboration with the MIT Sloan Management Review reveals that 75% of the top managers of investment companies see the sustainability of a company as something materially important in deciding your investment. Even more striking, nearly half would not invest in a company with a poor sustainability record.
This is also a good way to stop viewing business sustainability as an expense because it is where the money is and you are checking it.
Priority in tenders: If you enter public competitions, sustainability will give you points. In some of these contests, many times you will not even be able to participate if you do not have a sustainable strategy and documents that justify it, such as a Sustainability Report or a Strategic Corporate Social Responsibility Plan.
The thing is clear; you may be on the verge of losing business opportunities without sustainable business strategies.
Types of Sustainable Business Strategies
Each business or project has its style and its way of doing things. It is like starting to make a delicious pot of Jollof rice. Everybody has their way of preparing it, I’m sure you get the gist. LOLS!
Regarding sustainable business strategy, we can distinguish the following strategies:
Hyperactive: Here the company sees sustainability as a need and an opportunity, so it defines an agenda and acts accordingly.
Proactive: You are in this situation if your company tries to get ahead of legislation and innovations and tries to stay one step ahead. The philosophy is based on the belief that sustainability is our responsibility.
Reactive: This strategy is based on obeying the law and only reacting to external pressures from customers, suppliers, etc., because the value of sustainability is not seen, but rather it is seen as an expense that must be minimized. Unconsciously.
Follower: In this, no innovations or efforts to improve are introduced, only the trend is followed and an attempt is made to adapt to the new situation.
Inactive: This is the worst of all because it denies that there is a problem and does not act in any way.
How to Develop a Sustainability Strategy for Your Business
We do not believe that you want to go with the flow (otherwise you would be an official and you would not be setting up companies), so it is time to define your business sustainability strategy.
You may wonder if this is for you. Of course, whether it is only you, or there are 2,000 employees, or you dedicate yourself to providing services, selling products, or investigating whether people prefer meat or fish in their Jollof rice, Sustainability applies to any business.
Practical Tips on How to Achieve a Sustainable Business Strategy.
Implementing a sustainability strategy in any type of business has proven to be profitable.
In most cases, it means being aware of the number of resources consumed and knowing those points in the value chain where there are inefficiencies.
In other cases, it has an impact on increasing sales since there is a growing community of responsible consumers. These consumers consider where they invest their money and what they contribute to in their purchasing decisions.
Finally, a sustainability strategy allows proposing solutions that have repercussions in the 3 areas of sustainability, the social, economic, and environmental spheres.
So, if you’re thinking of integrating sustainability strategies in your business or the institution you work for, here are 10 ideas and tips you can start with to make your business more sustainable.
Control and reduce energy consumption: Promote and encourage habits within your work team that have an impact on reducing energy consumption, for example, turning off the equipment when not in use, adjusting the temperature of the air conditioning, etc. Cultivate the ability to change systems to more efficient ones that cause lower energy consumption.
Select your providers: Promote within your business the hiring of suppliers with environmental commitment. Choose local or proximity suppliers as a priority.
Promote the use of sustainable means of transport: Invest in hybrid vehicles, promoting the collective transport of workers, the use of public transport, and the use of bicycles or walking is actions to reduce the environmental impact of transport.
Save paper: Paper is a material used in all businesses that cause different environmental problems such as deforestation, climate change, etc. promotes the use of digital file exchange systems by reducing or eliminating the use of paper.
Efficiently manage waste: Companies are large generators of waste, put the 3R rule into practice in the following order Reduce the volume of waste generated, Reuse waste, and if you cannot carry out the previous 2 Recycle.
Promote environmental education and training: Carry out environmental education and training campaigns among workers that train and raise awareness among employees.
Integrate eco-design: Eco-design is to conceive your products or services from an environmental point of view, taking into account the entire production process, from its creation to the end of its useful life. Use materials from renewable sources, with low energy consumption, etc.
Encourage responsible behavior from your customers: Promote responsible behavior among your clients by carrying out promotional campaigns that reward sustainable actions.
Collaborate with social actions: With small gestures, you can benefit countless people. Establish collaborations with entities that promote actions with a socio-environmental benefit.
Measure and reduce your environmental footprint or your carbon footprint: Companies provoke by their activity actions that harm the environment, measuring it and proposing minimization actions is necessary to be more sustainable.
Whatever your sector, betting on being a reference in a sustainable business within it is a winning bet since it will position you as a reference, increasing sales, and will mean cost savings by controlling production processes.
In all we have discussed so far, one thing is certain, and that is the fact that value creation must be carried out with a deep sense of quality, sustainability-defined focus, and reference to the target audience and also host communities, remember this, you are only in business when you are providing the value that meets the needs of those in view, and winning and keeping the trust of your target market must be a matter of top priority.”