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What is Business Development (in your words)? October 14, 2008

Posted by Bizzie Guye in Relationships.

When I worked on the production side of things, I must admit… I had know idea what Business Developers did?  Sure, by the name I could conjure up that these people did something to develop business for our firm – but how? What? When? Where?  These basic questions I could not answer for you. In fact, it is highly likely that if I hadn’t been forced (i.e. promoted) to primarily stop providing engineering services to spending most of my time selling engineering services… I would still not know what business development was all about.

What is BD?
If one Googles “What is Business Development”… one of the first websites that will come up is the ever popular (and unapologetic) modern reference work, Wikipedia. The highly sought-after site says that BD…

comprises a number of techniques designed to create new customers and penetrate existing [ones]. Such techniques include, assessment of marketing opportunities and target markets, intelligence gathering on customers and competitors, generating leads for possible sales, follow-up sales activity, formal proposal writing and business model design.”

On the opposite end of the spectrum and (a little more buried in Google’s search results) was fedmarket.com.  It stated that BD is simply

…a sales position. The important distinction is that the business developer is involved in long term activity, while the salesperson is involved in short term activity.”

My Simple Definition
It’s easy to see why Business Development and by extension Business Developers are often times misunderstood.  That’s why I like my own simple definition the best (the one I’d give if you saw me walking down the street and asked me – Quick, tell me! What is a BD?).  I’d tell you…

It’s a person who works to increase market share through relationship building.”

Another Good Definition
Perhaps one of the best ways I have seen it explained is in an article on cofebuz.com, there the author Tim Klabunde, says BD…

…focuses on the development of relationships through direct communication channels.”

What is BD to you?



1. Tonya Signa - November 14, 2008

I define business development as engaging prospects in conversations about their needs and challenges, educating them on possible solutions, and nurturing the relationships to a sale if the fit is right.

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