Where “Strategic” Comes Into Business Development

The field of business development encompasses a  wide swath of very diverse and vastly different jobs and responsibilities that all fall under the broad  umbrella of “business development.” Depending on the needs of a particular employer, a position in business development often is simply used as just another job position title  for a pure sales-related position. This  is more of a micro-approach to the position of business development.

On the other hand, for many employers the business development position encompasses  a more high-level business planning and strategic planning approach to growing an entire  company or that company’s  Profit & Loss business Units, products or services in different market places and distribution channels across the country. Thus, the business development position can also entail a much more macro-approach to the development and growth of a business.  My focus in this blog and all future blogs will be strictly limited to the strategic business development  job position and responsibilities and not on the pure “sales” or solely selling  aspect of  business development.

What is Strategic Business Development?

So you’ve decided to start a new business or you have an existing, well-established business but want to expand your company’s market presence or its product offerings in the marketplace. You believe you have a great product but now need to make sure the world (or, at least folks in the United States) is aware of your product line and have access to it. The question becomes what are the most cost-effective and efficient ways to get your company and products in front of potential decision-makers located in different targeted geographical marketplaces. This is where an experienced and knowledgeable strategic business development advisor or consultant can assist the business in spreading its geographical wings.

The primary role and goal of a strategic business development officer is strategic planning and assisting the business in developing feasible business plans that allow the business to strategically expand its  business and business products’ presence into new and existing marketplaces.  Depending on the business needs of the client on a particular business initiative, a business development advisor will need to understand and offer directions on  business modeling; vision casting; understanding and managing multiple distribution channels; establishing and managing strategic alliances; and, managing matrixed cross-functional teams. Oh!, by the way, you will also need to possess strong organizational, planning, and execution skills. Business people intuitively know that “great strategic business plans” without the know-how and resources to successfully execute on them are simply nothing more than just that, great strategic business plans.

Well-executed strategic business development requires someone with a strong skillset in at least five very different and distinct stages of business development. First, there is, hopefully, a high-level well thought out strategic planning phase of the new business or product line expansion. Next, not surprisingly, business and market expansion cost money. Working with the business heads, the early business development planning stage includes financial planning, determining the estimated cost for the initiative, and may includes obtaining capital for the project. And, of course, you must have a realistic budget for the initiative. Third, you will also need to put into place a realistic  blueprint (ground-level) for executing on the master plan. The strategic business development person must also be able to identify and bring together the necessary team personnel across the organization needed to  complete the initiative on-time and under budget.  And lastly, to ultimately be successful at business development, you must be able to execute, execute, execute!  Successful strategic planning also requires you to have some transformational leadership skills and an intimate knowledge of how your client’s  business works.  

A person with a strong strategic business development background isn’t just utilized by  startups  and small companies. Large companies often use a person with a strong strategic business development background to grow their product lines, expand their channel distributions, and/or expand their geographical market reach. No matter if a business is a startup or a multi-billion dollar Fortune 500 company, an individual with strong strategic business development experience can play a critical role for that business in growing market shares and in generating additional revenues for  that business. In Jones’ upcoming blogs, he will explore in greater detail the different stages of strategic business development and how an advisor in this capacity can help you grow your business.