For more than three decades, we’ve been challenged to describe what Business Development is all about. More often than not, it’s been defined by explaining what it isn’t. It’s not the same thing as selling. This is a simplistic, inaccurate answer and does a disservice to both perspectives.
Business Development is the process of helping a prospect or client determine their needs or wants from their perspective and secure a solution—whether or not they purchase it from you. It’s based on a philosophy and methodology that builds a long-term, trust-based relationship. On the other hand, selling is a largely transactional process that is usually defined in vendor or provider terminology for products and services. Both perspectives are needed and valuable in the marketplace.
While the concept of Business Development can be used effectively in all industries, it’s an exceptionally appropriate fit for leveraging knowledge or intellectual capital to solve problems. Over the span of more than thirty years in consulting, we’ve challenged our engineering, energy, biotech/pharma, utility and government services clients to do just that—use what they know about people, business, money and technology to initiate a dialog and build relationships as trusted advisors. What binds these diverse industry groups together is their valued expertise, which is leveraged into revenue and profit.
By no means are we expecting engineering, science or IT professionals to become salespeople. However, individuals can learn to transcend from the colleague to the partner role. Professionals learn that understanding people and what motivates them to buy is more vital to the Business Development process than their technical knowledge. This evolves through embracing Business Development thinking, expertise and behaviors to strategically meet client needs and, as a consequence, produce revenue for their firms.
In Business Development, revenue generation is never an accident.