People ask all the time: "what does it take to achieve success in Business development?"
And my answer is always the same: "be awesome." Obviously, that's not the actual answer. To be specific, here are a few key factors:
1. Be nice
Biz dev is about pitching, so take a book from the Mormons, who spend a year on a mission to convert people around the globe - be nice, friendly and patient. Very few people can say no to that.
And STAY nice. Why? Karma. Seriously, you will see everyone in your field constantly. If you do not remember anything past this point, remember this.
2. Business Development Is Not Sales
In general, business development will identify and create partnerships that enable LEVERAGE for driving revenue. Think - new contacts, new tools, new programs and platforms.
Sales is focused almost exclusively on driving revenue. See the difference? Yeah, you do.
Similar distinctions will apply when hiring a sales leader for an early stage company versus a more mature organization.
Don't get me wrong. I am a badass salesperson, and nothing is cooler than selling that deal. And I KNOW you want to see the money! But biz dev involves strategy. Biz dev is b to b. Biz dev takes TIME. It's not sales. It's a framework. And when it is in place, then you will see REAL money.
3. The Deal Doesn't End at Signature
All successful deals are a result of accountability and proactive management — by both biz dev and account management. In most cases, the account manager is a different person than the biz dev person who did the deal. Ideally, the account manager is strong enough and incentivized to keep all the promises and deliverables. If you are not ready to allocate the resources to support a deal, think twice before signing it.
4. It's About QUALITY
Because quality means a higher price, and a higher frequency, too. You need both - and you need to thus focus on the best.
Remember the Pareto principle, always: 20% of your business will make up 80% of your revenue. Those 20% is where your focus lies.
5. No Biz Dev Pro is an Island
A good business developer will engage internal resources along the way to ensure the company can meet the goals and expectations of a partnership. A lack of support inside your company will almost certainly lead to finger pointing and blaming when things go south (hey, life happens). Everyone should own part of the success or failure from the start.
Napoleon Hill, in his seminal book "Think and Grow Rich"* calls this banding together the Master Mind effect. So think of it that way - we are all in this together, we are better as a whole, and that is how miracles happen.
(*if you have not read this book, stop reading this IMMEDIATELY and get back once you have)
6. Make Deals Carefully
There is a difference between doing deals and doing the right deals. A good dealmaker can help identify a false signal –- when there is a bad deal looming. Bad deals suck the life out of you. Experience counts, and so does intuition. This is the place to say that good biz dev also knows when to walk away.
7. Business Development is Useless Without LOVE
I know that building a company is hard and requires a lot of things to go well including having a great service and team. The reason I know is because I personally co-own three companies. Been there, bro.
Bringing in the right business development person at the right stage, and following these other guidelines, will keep your company on the right track. But above all - a Biz Dev pro has to love you. Has to REALLY believe in you, like you believe in you. Why? See point 2: Biz Dev is NOT sales. We are not peddling shoes, people. Your biz dev pro and support team must understand your brand, your industry and your USP. And when they love you, they will deliver.
8. Think Win-Win
Yes - that's Stephen R. Covey's principle from "The Seven Daily Habits of Highly Effective People". In business development - this means do not create nor sell a program or product to anyone who will not genuinely benefit from it and see its value. If you are reading this, and are currently in a field where that's what you're selling - hot air ("ice to eskimos") - GET OUT NOW. But if you are selling warm Moncler jackets to Eskimos - you will succeed. And they will be warm. WIN-WIN.
9. You Gotta Have FAITH
Finally, a word: trust the process. I have advised every company with which I have had the privilege of working of this principle, which is the secret to success and the number one determiner of failure: show doubt in the process, expect results too fast/apply needless pressure - and you will break what I call "the vibe". That is the natural energy that leads from pitch to deal. Doubt casts an energy shadow. Think that's "woo woo" nonsense? Check it. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. A leader divided against his or her own goal will break flow, and will stand in the way of deals.
In sum - let it flow. And enjoy stepping into even more light.