Few times in history have more ambiguous words been spoken. Ask ten Manager of Business Development or similarly business card-ed folks what is business development, and you’re like to get just as many answers.
“Business development is sales,” some will say, concisely.
“Business development is partnerships,” others will say, vaguely.
The assortment of varied and often contradictory responses to the basic question of “what, exactly, is business development” reminds me of the way physicists seek to explain what, exactly, is the universe. Business development is the creation of long-term value for an organization from customers, markets, and relationships.
There is elegance in simplicity, but perhaps this definition leaves you wanting more. At its heart, business development is all about figuring out how the interactions of those forces combine together to create opportunities for development.
First, what do I mean by “long-term value?” In its modest form, value is cash, money, the lifeblood of any business. And there are plenty of ways to make a quick money for you or your firm. But business development is not about get-rich-quick schemes and I-win-you-lose tactics that create value that’s gone tomorrow as easily as it came today. It’s about creating prospects for that value to persist over the long-term, to keep the floodgates open so that value can flow indefinitely. Thinking about business development as a means to creating long-term value is the only true way to prosper in steadily growing an organization.