Too often, I have encountered business managers hiring Sales people and classifying them as Business Developers. The same holds true when managers call their Sales people Marketing Professionals. Main reasons behind this misclassification are twofold: First, many people DO NOT understand what the differences are between sales, marketing, and business development. Second, organizations do not accurately recognize which of these functional areas need help to drive revenue and how they compliment each other. These misunderstandings of disciplines cause unrealistic expectations and failure to achieve goals.
Business Development (Biz-Dev) is often misunderstood. It is often times mistaken as purely a sales role and other times as a marketing initiative. Well, it is a little of both, but it is also much more. Understanding what Biz-Dev is and what it does can focus the strategic direction of an enterprise, which ultimately creates new opportunities. Biz-Dev can be sales oriented, but it also can act as an operational function to support sales. Biz-Dev supplements marketing, sales, operations, and management. All of these functions are dependent upon each other. Biz-Dev is part sales, part marketing, part strategy, part planning, and part management. Biz-Dev can also work on promotion of an enterprise or even relationship building functions.
Isn't a business developer's main job expected to generate sales? Isn't the lifeblood of business driven by sales? Yes, the ultimate business goal of an enterprise is to gain and grow sales. Even non-profit organizations need to raise money to survive. Without sales there is no revenue, without revenue there is no working capital, no working capital means no sustainability, and so forth. However, all units in an organization affect the outcome of sales. A company must define its purpose and objectives within their business plan. Upper management must communicate directives to staff and control processes. Employees are accountable to perform duties within their unit of responsibility. All units must work cohesively with their output contributing to the common goal of the company. For example, marketing cannot initiate a promotional campaign without input from finance, otherwise budgets and production costs will soon run into chaos.
Simply said, Biz-Dev is management process that uses resources available to an organization and coordinates plan activities to achieve goals. Sometimes the goal is increased sales, but other times an organization needs improvement or aid in another part of its operation. Examples that are not exactly sales oriented include business planning, administrative refinement, market research, finance, general management, and more. The bottom line is Biz-Dev can perform multiple initiatives to achieve a goal that will improve a functional business process resulting in opportunity. Think of Biz-Dev as project management for sales.
Understanding the various roles Biz-Dev can perform will improve the focus of your enterprise and help achieve its goals.