Few job titles are as ill-defined as business development. Ask ten VPs of BD what the role entails and you’ll likely get a range of answers: “business development is sales,” some will say, succinctly; others may offer a more equivocal response: “business development is partnerships.” The reality is that business development is all about growth — and growth doesn’t happen by accident. A well-crafted business development plan establishes goals, outlines strategies to achieve those goals and defines the steps necessary to delight prospects and customers along the way.

In addition to marketing activities, a strong business development strategy includes assessing the potential for new products and services, as well as opportunities for expansion into existing and new markets. This often involves the use of a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) to determine how to best position a company for success.

A savvy business development team also considers external factors that could affect its ability to sell, such as legal and regulatory adherence, cost considerations and the need for external vendors. These factors are then evaluated against the company’s overall financial goals to determine whether or not a particular opportunity is worth pursuing.

Business development is a dynamic process that requires companies to continually refine and adjust their approach to ensure they’re capitalizing on all potential revenue streams. To this end, it’s important for all business developers and sales leaders to keep up with trends in the industries they serve and the broader market. Streamlining communication and data access with lead generation software and SFA software can make this easier. Additionally, pushing your team to expand their skills and knowledge is a good idea — technology and industry conditions are constantly changing, so staying current is key.

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