"What are the top three skills for business development?"
This is a great question.
First, let's define what we're talking about.
Business development means different things for different people. Some think it's about developing relationships. Some think of a business development plan. Others think of growth strategies.
Some post job ads for business development managers when they need sales representatives.
First, I'll talk about two business development manager job roles:
Business Developer and Business Development Manager.
Then, successful business development itself.
In terms of going from idea through the launch, startup, and growth phases.
Business Development Roles
Many use 'business developer' and 'business development manager' interchangeably. The two roles share similarities, but also have their unique distinctions. For a business development manager job, you must be top among good business developers. When you're looking to hire a business development manager - you want someone who can train others. As well as someone with an existing network of potential new business.
Business developers find and qualify prospective clients. They develop relationships with good prospects, existing buyers, and gather data about both. They draft proposals together with the sales team. Monitor the execution of contracts. Gather data about performance & competition.
Business Development Managers
This is also sometimes referred to as a business development executive. They take on a leadership role and are responsible for overseeing business developers and fostering teamwork.
They train junior members of the sales team to ensure they meet expectations.
A business development manager also creates new opportunities for the company to grow. They need to identify risks. Strategize, and collaborate with other teams. Each business development strategy should be anchored on solid analysis. Backed by thorough data and knowledge of the people you serve.
A business development manager communicates with clients regularly.
Identify their needs and offer to fix their problems. They strengthen and maintain relationships with current clients. Managers also identify new potential clients and proactively develop relationships.
These responsibilities require a business development manager to understand the products and services they offer. They create business deals. Scaled through teamwork.
Top 3 Skills Needed. Period.
Here are 3 must have's for any business development manager and team.
Sales Skills & Sales Strategy
The first is sales skills and strategy. I've combined them because your sales strategy determines the level of skill required. For example, McDonald's sales strategy is using emotional photographs & putting price points at impulse buying thresholds.
Meaning sales staff need limited selling abilities. Most selling is done in the advertisements.
Sales skills and strategy are essential for starting a new business or bringing an old one up to speed on existing conditions. The sales strategy determines level of & type of ability needed.
So it's critical to habitually develop this for all sales and marketing teams.
Plus business development executives. Everyone needs to constantly improve & practice.
Self-efficacy is a broad term but your personal effectiveness is critically important.
It includes your productivity, time management, leadership, and ability to communicate.
Knowing how to be your best. When you're a business development manager, you are responsible for other people. You need to be organized, efficient, and in peak mental + physical shape. Leading teams and creating new business opportunities is not lazy work. Proper business administration and sales management require not only know-how but the ability to show up every day 100%.
Peak mental & physical performance gives a special edge to anyone in a business development manager job.
The same principles apply to sales and marketing roles. There's simply no business if you fail to identify new markets. Or develop strategies to expand existing markets. Jobs in these roles help pay everyone's basic salary.
Fail to generate leads, and sales, and the business will fail too.
The business graveyard is full of world-class products and services nobody knew about. Obsess over business development strategies & being known by your target audience.
It's important for businesses to prioritize excellence and quality in their deliverables. But if you can't generate new leads & sales consistently. If you don't develop strategic partnerships. You'll be "the amazing ____" no one knows about.
To succeed, you must always show up at your best and focus on your goals. You also need to work closely with your team. Help them be THEIR best so together you ace your objectives.
Last but not least, you need people skills for business development. A business is a group of people solving the pain of another group of people. Via a product or service.
As a business development manager, you work with members of the marketing and sales teams. You'll be in charge of developing relationships with new plus current clients and partners. It's really important you communicate well with others.
I've avoided mentioning persuasion on purpose. The best business development strategy always involves long-term relationships. It's more about connection, communication & mutual understanding than fancy manipulation tactics. Even a basic salary is only motivating over the short term.
Go Deep With Existing Clients
An easy way to make a company grow is by developing new services to help existing customers. Make your product/service so good, clients stick, refer friends and come back for more.
Your business development strategy should be anchored on a comprehensive understanding of the sales process, target audience, and industry. You need to optimize your resources, build new partnerships, secure prospective customers, AND generate more revenue from the existing customer base you've got.
In a way, your competition's target audience will want to switch over to you. If it's the same group of people you both serve. Sometimes the best strategy for lead generation is tapping into other organizations existing markets.
People skills will help you win when you go deep into these situations.
Business Development On A Macro Scale
So far, we've covered 3 skills needed for business development jobs. Now, let's talk about business development on a macro scale. I'm here to tell you The 8 factors CRITICAL to developing a business.
For transparency, I spent over $50,000 on research to identify the critical success factors for business. We went through HUNDREDS of published papers, literature, and evidence-based studies to find out what gets results. Use these as a guide for any business development manager job.
8 Critical Factors Of Business Development
For business development; you have to identify what works and focus.
We've discovered 8 critical business factors to help you. With these non-negotiables, you can start, grow, and ensure your legacy in all markets. They include everything for business management too. These apply in a new business or old. For managing teams and individual team members. Use these to get new clients, reach new markets, and keep them longer.
I've mentioned this before and I'll mention it again. Self-efficacy is a key pillar in all aspects of business development. No matter what role. It's crucial you and your team recognize your responsibilities and know how to fulfill those individually. You have to know how you can get yourself and your teams to function at their best. Everyone must adopt a high performer mentality.
Imagine if all your staff showed up every day. Never set goals or if they DID, never make meaningful progress.
Your company will die in no time. Especially if direct competitors are willing to give 110% 24/7.
It's about progress, not perfection. The willingness to give consistent and conscious effort to reach your primary goal.
Self-efficacy has to be a habit because business development is continuous and ongoing. One isolated boost of effort doesn't amount to anything in the long run. Your accomplishments yesterday won't do you much good tomorrow. Yes, it's important to acknowledge wins, but it's also crucial to recognize progress never stops.
You have to be strategic. If you plan to sell fax machines in an era of emails & digital file transfers - you might be in trouble. Study how the industry works, learn about existing products, and familiarize yourself with the problem you solve. Think about how you can be better, faster, and/or cheaper than your competition [while still having healthy margins].
Look for elements of leverage.
You must understand your target audience to generate leads and sales. The long-term viability of business opportunities requires being highly relevant and in tune with the needs and wants of your current and prospective clients.
When blogs first came out, newspapers got crushed.
They lost touch with their readers.
They were focused on delivering advertisements. They lost touch with their audience and couldn't hold their attention. Or pivot & engage new markets. To avoid that, you must make a habit of robust and vigorous target market research. Know their needs and adjust accordingly to stay relevant and useful.
You shouldn't stop at simply knowing what your market wants and how they behave. You need to reach them, build relationships at scale & education them about why they should choose you.
You need to know how you can get your services and products out there.
Be where the people are.
Otherwise, you risk being the proud owner of a world-class product or service rotting in the business graveyard. Know how to get and hold people's attention. At a profit.
Sales Strategy & Sales Skills
No company can grow without sales. After marketing your products and services to prospective customers, you must close deals. One of the biggest sales tasks, after all, is to secure revenue. Managers and developers have to work closely with a sales executive or team for this aspect. This is where you have to help transition from marketing to collecting payments.
There are many ways to help you come up with effective sales strategies. You can research, familiarize yourself with lead-generation findings, or explore new channels. But don't be mistaken!
An average business development manager stops here. Thinking once sales are up, the company is successful. Plenty of companies have had good sales and still went belly up.
An excellent business development manager knows the work is far from done.
The next habit is money management. This is absolutely critical and non-negotiable if you want the company to stay alive and thrive. Many companies have tanked because of poor money management. Don't suffer the same fate.
Take companies like Enron, for example. They had something good going. Plenty of cash. But everything fell apart because of poor money management. They failed despite exhibiting self-efficacy, strategic planning, marketing intelligence, and marketing and sales strategy.
It's not about how much you make - it's how much you keep & how well you allocate capital.
The next crucial aspect of our development plan is business operations. This includes everything, from cybersecurity to internal team communication systems, meeting rhythms, and how you protect your intellectual property. This also includes your HR processes and legal compliance.
Business operations hold the pieces of your company together. The glue making sure everything is cohesive and functioning. Again, a business is a group of people solving the problems of others with products and services. Business operations are about maintaining regulatory compliance and keeping your monkey tribe together. They're about getting things organized and making sure everyone understands what they're doing.
Last but not least, business development requires business intelligence. This comes in the form of visualizing & using your data in meaningful ways.
Business Intelligence is creating and organizing feedback loops. Everyone focuses on revenue. But everybody needs their own personal scoreboard to track their key performance metrics. Think of it like your car's dashboard or your phone's home screen displaying your battery life.
These items must be included in your development plan. Bottlenecks create the worst problems for companies, especially in terms of production and cost. Being systematic, organized, and consistent with your business intelligence can help you dodge bullets.
Keep in mind the prettiest dashboards won't fix physical health or mindset/morale problems.
No amount of self-efficacy can fix a product-market mismatch. All the marketing intelligence in the world won't fix terrible sales strategies or leaky financial processes. It's imperative you combine ALL these eight factors together and make them habitual.
Think of it the same way you take care of your body. You need to eat food, drink water and breathe air to fuel yourself and you must do these regularly. These eight critical success habits also require constant and diligent focus for you and your company to reach its full potential.
To Wrap Up
Business development is an all-around process. Involves many aspects. You need to focus on all as a habit.
I listed down eight critical habits in this article, and they are:
- Strategic Planning
- Market Intelligence
- Marketing Strategy
- Sales Strategy & Sales Skills
- Money Management
- Business Operations
- Business Intelligence
I also summarized the top 3 skills needed by business development managers, developers, and team members. Those are sales skills and strategy, self-efficacy, and people skills.
With these habits, you'll connect with your market, grow revenue, and manage resources for the long term. Of course, these also empower you to identify new business opportunities.