What is business development?

In many of the tech companies there are individuals with “Business Development” in their title. The curious thing about the label is that the job is not very well defined. I would have to say that business development is like being in sales but without the quota and/or the commission.

People in business development tend to concentrate on the longer term strategic sales, developing relationships and collecting reconnaissance. In order to do this they need to work with key departments within the organization to understand every aspect of a proposal. Proposals need to align with the companies business plan because there needs to be a clear understanding with respect to work required in R&D, product positioning from Marketing and potential sales from the sales organization.

Every business development proposal is a mini business plan that augments the primary corporate business plan. If the proposal is sound and accepted by the management team, the implementation is handed off to Marketing, R&D, Operations and Sales. It is not common for the Business Development resource to take a proposal past the approval point.

In larger technology companies, business development can be expanded to include managing strategic relationships with partners. These partners can be local or can be Value Added Resellers (VARs) and/or customers in different countries.

I had the opportunity to work with a colleague who was tasked with introducing our companies products into Australia. He explained to me at the time that one of the best places to start is the local Embassy that represents your country. They have staff dedicated to helping businesses establish offices and partnerships in the country where they are located.

Opening up a new country can be an expensive venture so it goes without saying that a Google search or two might be a good idea before you climb on a plane. A visit to the local embassy for your target country might also be a productive venture. People there are a good source of ideas and will have region specific advice and contacts.

Business Development resources tend to be senior enough to operate on their own developing proposals and relationships for the management teams consideration.


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