Next time you’re in a room full of business owners, try asking ten of them to define business development. Chances are, you’ll get ten different answers. Some might use the term interchangeably with “marketing,” while others think of business development as whatever the sales team does all day.
A lot of people go to classes to learn business development, but you can complete hundreds of hours of coursework without mastering the activities critical to realizing strong sales as quickly as possible.
So what is business development, really? Very simply: new dollars. They could be new dollars from new clients or more dollars from existing clients. Regardless of where they come from, the easiest way to understand business development is the act of bringing in revenue that you’ve never had before. Most of us know good business development when we see it. A company doing it right will be growing: increasing its profits and reaching new markets. From the outside, it looks like a well-oiled machine, but inside the salespeople are hard at work bringing in those new dollars. When business development is done right, those new dollars will exceed your attrition rate. That means your revenue is actually growing, not just making up for any customers you might lose.
One of the biggest blind spots for companies is that not enough time is spent on the pursuit of new dollars.
Sellers are too often consumed with the urgent at the expense of what is important. Activities which can be executed by others are done by sellers, eroding the time they would otherwise have for new business development.
One example is answering customer inquiries which can be handled by a customer service representative. Another example is filling out management mandated reports which can be completed by an assistant. One valuable exercise is for each seller to keep a log of activities over the course of 2 weeks. Any activities which can be done by someone else should be done by someone else. Any activities that shouldn’t be done at all should cease. I’ve seen this exercise give back up to 5 extra hours per week per person…time devoted to doing what sellers do best… generate new dollars.