Group of coworkers standing around a table in a team meeting.
Business development encompasses a wide range of responsibilities, from improving profitability and talking to customers to networking and partnerships. — Getty Images/filadendron

Business development, colloquially known as biz dev, is a broad term that essentially refers to creating value for your business. Biz dev commonly involves activities such as increasing revenues, expanding your business, improving profitability through partnerships, and making strategic business decisions that benefit your bottom line.

Because business development is such a broad term, it’s often used interchangeably with sales or marketing. But understanding the ins and outs of business development can help you make better decisions and create a strategy that takes your business beyond its competition.

[Read more: How to Boost Sales With Biz Dev]

Key business development activities

Business development encompasses a wide range of responsibilities. Someone who works in biz dev would help the sales team by qualifying leads and pinpointing potential prospective clients. Business development representatives have deep knowledge of who your target customer is: They understand that not every potential customer is going to be the right fit for your business, and can discern which prospective customers are worth sharing with your sales team. These people work at the top of the sales funnel, bringing opportunities to the desk of your sales representative.

A business development manager would also proactively seek new brand opportunities. This includes networking, researching your competition and industry trends, and talking to current customers to learn more about your business’s unique value proposition.

[Read more: Why Online Networking Matters for SMEs]

Beyond sending qualified leads to your sales team, the business development team would help ensure satisfaction throughout the sales process. “Once a [business development representative] researches the prospect or begins interacting with them, ensure they tailor all communication towards the prospect,” wrote Hubspot. “Customizing all content sent their way shows them they’re being listened to and cared for. These actions are professional and leave a strong impression.”

Business development representatives have deep knowledge of who your target customer is: They understand that not every potential customer is going to be the right fit for your business, and can discern which prospective customers are worth sharing with your sales team.

Do you need a business development plan?

Some business owners put together a business development plan that outlines your goals and strategies for growth. A biz dev plan differs from your core business plan in that it is focused exclusively on opportunities for growth. It might include sections such as:

  • Financial goals: What revenue, costs, and profits do you hope to achieve?
  • Funding: Do you need capital to fund your business growth?
  • Operational and team needs: What expertise and resources do you need to grow?
  • Sales and marketing: How will these functions contribute to your growth goals?

Organizing your business development strategy with these elements in mind can help you prioritize resources, create a reasonable timeline, and set expectations for your sales and marketing teams.

Top business development tactics

Business development isn’t just for large enterprises. Small business owners need biz dev too. And you don’t need expensive sales software to get started with business development.

First, focus on improving your networking. Networking is less about collecting business cards and more about fostering genuine relationships with business leaders around you. Expand your networking effort to meet people and potential partners online and in person, and put effort into building those relationships over time.

Next, improve your inbound marketing by offering demos or consultations for prospects and leads. You can film these and offer them via email to targeted groups, or host in-person workshops at your storefront and see who shows up. Make sure you collect the contact information of those who participate and follow up with them later to start building a connection. Nurturing prospects is both a sales tactic and important biz dev activity.

“The point of lead nurturing is to provide any information needed about your product or service so your prospects can decide whether or not they want to make a purchase,” wrote Hubspot.

Finally, empower your team members to participate in business development. If your workers are hourly, offer to compensate them for time spent learning about the industry, going to networking events outside of work hours, and coming up with new ways to reach prospective customers. Incentivize sales referrals to expand your network.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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