Employees working at desk
Designating a biz dev representative to work with your sales team can improve the task flow of the sales funnel, increase prospects and, as a result, close more sales. — Getty Images

Creating roles focused on business development, known as “biz dev,” can help spur business growth. Partner development, market expansion and new products can be found under the biz dev umbrella, as well a variety of other growth methods. While many assume that biz dev is solely for large companies, there are actually several ways that small businesses and startups can structure their own biz dev functions specifically to fuel their sales processes.

How biz dev benefits the sales process

Today, the stages of a sales funnel span the roles of marketing, biz dev and sales. While traditional sales might handle everything from finding new contacts to “making the sale,” prospecting for new leads has become increasingly time consuming. Savvy prospects conduct their own research and filter communications through many channels, like phone, email, social and network groups. So, if your salespeople must find their own contacts, they’ll have significantly less time to focus on qualified prospects. This can greatly reduce the number of deals they close.

Implementing the biz dev function to absorb the tasks that fill the top of the funnel, including finding contacts and educating them on your business, can mitigate this challenge. While there may seem to be overlap with marketing, a key differentiator is that marketing drives inbound leads while biz dev uses outbound activities to generate leads. Both functions then nurture prospects until they’re ready to go to your sales team to become customers.

Appointing a biz dev representative

A business development representative (BDR) must know who to target. They study the buyer persona developed by your marketing team to understand the ideal customer and then identify companies that are a match. They then find contacts with the right titles within those companies and research each prior to connecting.

Activities a BDR can use to engage a contact include:

  • Cold calling.
  • Emailing.
  • Networking.
  • Attending events.
  • Connecting via social media.

Your BDRs will likely use a combination of these activities. It often takes multiple attempts to connect with a contact before a conversation takes place.

In addition to prospecting, successfully qualifying leads will increase close rates. Your BDR may use the standard qualifiers, such as BANT (budget, authority, need and timing) or ANUM (authority, need, urgency, money), to ensure it’s the right contact and time to pass onto sales.

A BDR may carry a quota, which would specify the number of leads they qualify or appointments they set in a given timeframe and could be tied to a revenue amount. However, it’s important to remember that the sales team is responsible to close deals.

As you launch and grow your business, the structure of marketing, sales and biz dev roles will be important for your success.

The importance of cold calling in biz dev

Cold calling is still a large part of business development. Research from Rain Group found that more than two-thirds of buyers took a cold call from a provider in the previous 12 months.

Once your BDR gets the contact to take their call, they must be strategic. Their objective is not to close a deal, but to establish a relationship. They need to lead the prospect into taking steps to get to know your company — from setting an appointment or attending an event, to joining a webinar or trialing your product.

Adding email into the communication mix can increase the chances of connecting. An email can be sent beforehand and referenced on the call. Written effectively, it can motivate the recipient to take the BDR’s call, or, at the least, they’ll recognize the company name when they get the call.

A follow-up email is also helpful. After the call, the follow-up email provides a summary of the discussion, additional contact information, links to learn more and confirmation of next steps.

[Read: Email Marketing Guide for New Businesses.]

Biz dev tips for startups

As you launch and grow your business, the structure of marketing, sales and biz dev roles will be important for your success. Equally important are healthy relationships that enable them to collaborate, learn and improve in order to increase close rates.

Some tips to keep in mind are:

  • Ensure there’s agreement on buyer personas from marketing, sales and biz dev so all are targeting the same audience with the same message.
  • Clarify the part of the funnel each role is responsible for and when/how leads are passed to sales.
  • Use a customer relationship management (CRM) platform. If new contacts are entered and each interaction is documented, you’ll have the right data to assess the sales process. This provides transparency and accountability.

By intentionally adding biz dev to your sales process and creating a structure to support it, you can increase both new opportunities and closed sales.

[Read: How to Create a ‘Biz Dev’ Strategy to Grow Your Business]

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