17 Aug “Business Development is Just Sales Without a $ Number”
I was recently speaking with one of my clients, a CEO for a San Francisco based start-up, and we got on the subject of business development.
He mentioned that there were some business development efforts within his company to date, but he really wasn’t sure how successful they were.
Then he said with a chuckle, “My co-founder and I think business development is just sales without a number.”
This gave us both a good laugh because, after all, the funniest things are usually based in a degree of truth. But all kidding aside, why is it that business development often carries this perception of undefined value?
It is because often times organizations do not set clear, measurable goals or criteria for success for their business development teams. They fail to identify the problem the business development organization is trying to solve.
Without a clear charter, the business development team does its best to support the organization, but often its efforts are not serving the primary needs of the business. Or worse yet, the business development team is told to “do great things” and then the organization complains when a partnership is negotiated that doesn’t align with the product roadmap.
How is this issue resolved? Companies must align business development with company strategy. It is then measured on bringing in partners that meet very specific criteria with a clear understanding of what these partners will do for the company.
For example, it may be business development’s charter to establish marketing or affiliate partnerships that meet very specific criteria. Or, as the product team needs to integrate a third party service into the core product, business development can support this effort through working closely with product and negotiating a deal with the third party that aligns with the product vision and business requirements. And in some companies, business development may be in charge of reseller partnerships, which may warrant the team carrying a sales quota or revenue number.
And the goals of the team will change over time as the company evolves and its needs change.
Bottom line, business development may not always have a number but it should have a clear charter and definition of success that promotes the goals of the business.