Would You Aim for a Business Development Manager’s Role?

The presence of an efficient business development manager is crucial to a business’ existence. It is one of the key roles of this age, that every business seeks to fill in, hiring a strategic planner, who can grow with the company. Those employed as the business development managers look after his/her team’s collective effort, looks for potential clients in the market, defines the target audience, and if needed, even redefines the company’s objectives.

These are top-level executives, who remain I contact with the management. Their ultimate goal is to create new business opportunities and ensure the company’s long- term growth. The term ‘business development’ can be described as an amalgamation of strategic planning, sales and marketing. Those holding more than 5 years of experience in sales can also be considered for this position. Besides, many leading firms consider MBAs to be hired as business development managers. Most commonly, those hailing from sales are seen heading for these career options. However, business development has a lot more than just sales, but the sales professionals are found suitable to fit in these jobs.

Job Description

  • Defining target audience and looking for potential clients
  • Preparing strategies to pitch the products to clients
  • Marking team’s collective efforts and keeping a checking on the lead generation
  • Representing the organization in the corporate events
  • Preparing monthly reports and analyzing the same
  • Providing essential data to the management
  • Taking essential steps for corporate associations
  • Identifying new sales opportunities
  • Working in coordination with other departments such as sales & marketing

Key elements for a business development manager’s role

For every business development manager, the following elements are of great significance.

Business Acumen

A business development manager can explore job opportunities in numerous sectors, including FMCG (Fast Moving Consume Goods), IT (Information Technology), Finance, Manufacturing, Consulting, and others. In any of these sectors, an understanding of the industry and the business is needed for the professional to possess. It will not just help him conveniently take on the role, but will also take the right decisions with an understanding of the business.

Management & Research

He plans as well as manages to take the business the next level. A professional serving as business development manager has to lead the team and direct it to the right path. For this, leadership and management are of great essence. Besides, research too is a major element for these professionals. They need to research well about the market, the prevailing trends, the customer’s requirements, and so on.

Strategic Planning

The business development managers are also involved in planning the campaigns to target the potential clients. They may even look for marketing and sales related data for the same.

Customer Service

Another major element remains the customer service. They need to ensure whether the customer their team is dealing with, is entirely satisfied with the services. They also need to constantly check on a crucial deal that has not been closed.

The Other Essential Details

In the recent years, the need to hire these professionals has been realized by most of the brands. They can explore the job offers from varied sectors as per their preferences and knowledge. However, some of the leading organizations they can aim to work with include Infosys, Deloitte, KPMG, Ernst & Young, Wipro Technologies, Cognizant, and many others. Further, these professionals can expect to earn Rs 578,392 per year in India.

A Golden Nugget of New Business Development

This past year (2009) was tough for most businesses, and 2010 will be tough too. Current account lists have been trimmed (in both numbers and profitability) because of the global economic contraction, and the focus of most business has turned to new business development to drive revenue growth. In fact, the majority of sales job listings on careerbuilder.com and monster.com are for salespeople that can develop new business, rather than organically grow existing business. Because new business development is so important to so many, I thought I would post an article on what I consider to be one of the “golden nuggets” that sales executives should think of to help boost his/her sales organization’s new business productivity.

The golden nugget is your sales force’s ability to QUALIFY NEW PROSPECTS. To better understand the implications of good/bad qualification on new business development, I find it’s insightful to take a look at the sales funnel. There are two characteristics of the sales funnel that I find to be telling about new business development. The first is that as opportunities move down the sales funnel, they require an increasing investment of your company’s resources (time and money). The implication is that if you let an unqualified opportunity move down the funnel it will become very expensive (in time and money) very fast, and you will lose out on the opportunity to invest those resources in other opportunities. The second characteristic is that the greatest number of prospects sit within the first stage of your sales funnel (often called prospecting or initial contact). The average amount of time that your salespeople spend qualifying a prospect in the first stage has a HUGE impact on your sales force’s time. If your sales force reaches out to 100 prospects a week, an average qualification time of 30 minutes versus an hour can free your sales force of 3,000 hours per week; that’s equivalent to adding 75 full time employees per week.

So where does qualification fit into the sales funnel? Qualification is the process by which your salespeople identify the quality of the prospect, and determine if the prospect is worth pursuing. In the sales funnel this is reflected by the movement of a prospect either from the first stage (often called “initial contact”) to the second stage (often called “needs analysis”), or the elimination of the prospect from the sales funnel altogether. Qualification has a profound impact on both the number of expensive bad opportunities that leak into the advanced stages of your sales funnel, as well as the time your salespeople will spend trying to qualify prospects. If you could use 75 new salespeople, or would love to have invested more resources in a big opportunity that got away, here are a couple tips to help your sales force qualify opportunities efficiently and effectively:

–Define Qualification: Generally speaking, a qualified opportunity is one in which the salesperson has spoken with someone involved in the decision making process, has found that the target company has a need, and is certain that the target company has an interest/commitment to take action to meet that need. As I am sure you know, there are different degrees of quality and you will want to invest your resources accordingly. I generally find that there are roughly three characterizations that businesses gravitate to once a prospect is deemed to be over the quality threshold: 1) Good enough to let a salesperson invest their time. 2) Good enough to assign local resources (engineers, regional marketers, local sales managers) to the opportunity. 3) Good enough to assign corporate resources (regional sales VPs, directors of product management, C-level suite) to the opportunity.

–Create Qualification Questions: After you have defined what a qualified opportunity looks like, you will need to determine the key questions that your sales force must answer to determine the quality of the prospect. I’m a big believer in looking at my best employees for insight, and almost always find that the best new business development salespeople will have a good understanding of the questions they ask to determine if the prospect is worth putting more effort into. For example, a good qualification question I see elite salespeople answer is “Does your prospect have an assigned budget for the project/product/service?” That might give you insight as to whether the prospect has made a commitment to meet their need.

–Answer Qualification Questions: Once you’ve determined the right questions to ask, it’s time to ingrain these questions in your sales management, sales process, coaching priorities, and CRM software. The key here is to emphasize the importance of answering these questions in as many places as possible; this will help to create an environment (as opposed to a “flavor of the week” initiative) that exudes the importance of answering qualification questions. You can always just require that they answer them, but unless they see those questions as important they are likely to game the system.

–Training!: As a manager and a leader, whenever you set a strong direction for your people it is important to surround them with the resources they need to do accomplish their goals. Seek out an internal or external sales training group that specializes in helping salespeople qualify, and follow up with support: here are a few tips that will help you with sales training.

–Set Goals and Measure Results: As with anything, measuring progress towards your goals is crucial. If you aren’t sure about what goals you need, set-up your qualification infrastructure (steps above) and then start to gather data to help you set a baseline. Set up your goals so that they are consistent with the other goals for your sales force.

One important note: The reason why I see most companies struggle with qualification is that they over rely on one of the two different types of questions they make their sales force answer: objective and subjective. An objective question requires a black and white answer, such as “Is there an assigned budget for the project/product/service, and what is the amount?” Customers have never fit neatly into objective boxes because they are all unique, and a salesperson’s value often lies in their intuition. Holding back your investment in all prospects unless the answer to this question is “Yes” might be a mistake. A subjective question relies solely on the perspective of the salesperson, which often varies from salesperson to salesperson. Of a ten prospect account list, one salesperson might see five qualified prospects while another might see two. This makes it very hard to truly see the ripe opportunities that you should invest resources in winning. In order to be as accurate as possible, it is vital that you use a mix of both subjective and objective questions.

How To Create An Effective Business Development Strategy

The Business Development Strategy is used to underpin your main Business Plan and essentially it sets out a standard approach for developing new opportunities, either from within existing accounts or by proactively targeting brand new potential accounts and then working to close them.

This document highlights the key issues you should consider prior to compiling your own plan and will hopefully guide you logically through a proven framework.

The key word is ‘Strategy’, because you are creating a workable and achievable set of objectives in order to exceed your annual target.

Your Starting Point:

The key words are Who? What? Where? When? Which? Why? How?

For example:

Who – are you going to target?

What – do you want to sell them?

Where – are they located?

When – will you approach them?

Which – are the appropriate target personnel?

Why – would they want to meet with you?

How – will you reach them?

If you have conducted regular account reviews with your key accounts during the previous twelve months, you should be aware of any new opportunities that will surface during the next twelve months. You will also, when assessing what percentage of your annual target usually comes from existing accounts, need to review data over the last two or three years. (It is likely that you can apply Pareto i.e. 80% of your business will probably come from existing accounts and in fact 80% of your total revenue will come from just 20% of your customers/clients)

You will be left with a balance – i.e. “20% of my business next year will come from new opportunities” – therefore you can then begin to allocate your selling time accordingly.

Ideal Customer Profiling:

Pro-active business development demands that we create an ideal target at the front end – i.e. an “Ideal Customer Profile.” The essential characteristics you will need to consider are:

– Industrial Sector

– Geographical Location (Demographics)

– Size of organizations (Turnover, number of employees etc)

– Financial Trends

– Psychographics – i.e. Philosophical compatibility

Many strategic sales professionals merely profile their best existing clients and try to replicate them – there’s nothing wrong with doing this but we should always remember that we are seeking an IDEAL and we can always improve on what we already have.

‘New’ Opportunities From Within ‘Old’ Accounts:

Because it costs approximately ten times as much, to first locate and then sell to a new customer as it does an existing one (although these costs are rarely reflected in the cost of sales), it is essential that we fully develop our existing accounts working upwards, downwards and sideways, thus making the most of the (hopefully) excellent reputation we have developed already.

Most corporate accounts have several divisions, departments, sites, even country offices and you must satisfy yourself that you have exhausted every possible avenue. Don’t be afraid to ask the question “Who else should I be talking to in your organization”?

This is an extract from my FREE eBook – “How to Construct an Effective Business Development Strategy” which is available for download – please see details below.

Copyright © 2012 Jonathan Farrington. All rights reserved

Home Business – Developing and Promoting Mobile Apps

The tremendous growth of smartphones has opened up significant opportunities for a home business developing and promoting mobile apps. We’ll discuss this in greater detail.

More and more people are spending time using their smartphones for a wide variety of tasks. For example there are applications to allow them to check their stock portfolio, or find the best local restaurants, or check the current weather reports.

There have also been a wide variety of applications developed for sale. You can create a home business either developing your own mobile apps for sale or get involved in promoting mobile apps as an affiliate.

You can also take advantage of a variety of promotional techniques to generate awareness of your website or blog. Users can connect to your website or blog either through their smartphone or computer.

There are many ways to reach mobile users. A popular technique is mobile based banner ads. If you are promoting an affiliate product, you can purchase banner ads which get sent to a variety of mobile based users. When the user clicks on the ad, you can earn commissions for any sales made as a result.

If you have software development skills, there may be an excellent opportunity for you to develop one or more mobile based applications for sale. Depending on which platform you use, the application can be listed on the appropriate marketplace.

Typically these applications only sell for a few dollars. However the potential demand for a popular application can easily exceed 250,000 users so you can quickly see the business potential.

All this can be done from the comfort and convenience of your home in developing a strong business opportunity.