about business development 2020
“It often comes as a surprise that despite the frequent use of ‘Business Development’ and ‘Business Development’ in practice (currently 406,000 and 188,000,000 Google hits) there is very little systematic knowledge about Business Development’s unique characteristics and bottom line effect “
– Hans Eibe, CEO
It is perhaps still a secret that it was a Dane who made the
- first English-language textbook on business development “Business Development: a market oriented perspective” published on the prestigious Wiley (2012)
- authoritative definition of “Business Development” in The Palgrave Encyclopedia of Strategic Management. (2016)
- the first scientific publication documenting the positive bottom line effect of properly executed ‘business development’, New Danish for business development. “Making Planning Work: Insights From Business Development“. (IJEIM 2018, Special Issue on: Business Development: An Essential Factor in Corporate Growth)
On behalf of this background, we would like to elaborate on what we mean by Business Development in 2020.
Definition of business development
Business development is defined as:
- tasks and processes related to analytical preparation of potential growth opportunities
- support and monitoring of the implementation of growth opportunities
- but does not include decisions and execution of growth opportunities or their actual implementation.
Down to earth, we focus on preparing, screening and prioritizing growth opportunities on behalf of decision makers. If the growth opportunity is judged to be beneficial to implement, we support and monitor its progress on behalf of senior management.
In small and medium-sized organizations, these tasks and processes are typically not clearly delimited, but there are benefits to understanding their unique contribution to the organization’s growth and development – and the owners’ investment.
What growth opportunities are relevant to business development?
It is the context of growth opportunities that is a good indicator of whether business development should ideally engage with them.
In a small organization, there is rarely a sharp division of labor between strategy development, business development and operations, so here it is a question of knowing how the available growth opportunities affect the organization.
Relevant types of growth opportunities for business development are:
- Non-trivial (they should impose significant challenges on the organization, such as new market or customer preferences, new technologies, or new organizational tasks and processes)
- Non-strategic (they should ideally be part of the constraints of the firm’s strategic momentum and corporate strategy)
In a larger organization, we would otherwise pass the tasks on to:
(1) the line responsible (responsible for parts of the operation, e.g. production, marketing, sales)
(2) The strategy development function.
The business developer
The good business developer is rare to find because they are often characterized by:
- To have practical knowledge of the company’s technology, product, customer values and industry dynamics,
- Being able to think conceptually and abstractly and not just “close offers”,
- Having knowledge from several business functions
- To have experience with both senior management and line functions.
Business developers are what we call an integrated generalist and not ‘just’ a generalist or a specialist. See the figure below.
Imagine this: Who is best at devising a realistic business plan for a growth opportunity? (ensure integration between market, organization, technology and economy)
- A person who specializes in sales and marketing
- A person who specializes in engineering or science
- A person who is a trained engineer and has worked 6 years in sales and marketing
It is up to you to find the right answer.
Figure: Specialists and integrating generalists
What business development NOT is
EIBE MGMT is only interested in unique business development tasks and processes as well as the unique features of business development.
Let’s make it clear; Business development is not just ‘business development’. All organizational functions and activities must be aimed at developing the company. Even the purchase of Post-Its.
The list of misunderstandings of business development is growing. Here is what we often come across:
- Sales (it is currently trendy to rename sales to business development in the industry, but it is still sales)
- Key account management
- Relationship marketing management
- Product development
- Technological development
- Market development
- Project development
- Project management (although many business developers land here because they have an overview)
- Strategy development (they must focus on corporate strategy and organizational boundaries)
- Advertising or promotional expenses (Chesbrough (HBR 2002) got that one)
Business development library
Sørensen, Hans Eibe (2018). “Making Planning Work: Insights From Business Development“. International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management. Special Issue on: Business Development: An Essential Factor in Corporate Growth
Sørensen, Hans Eibe & Williamson, Trevor. (2016). Nu2U: Business Development in High-Growth Firms. SAGE Business Cases, SAGE Publishing.
Lorenzi, Valeria, and Sørensen, Hans Eibe (2014). Business Development Capability: Insights from the Biotechnology Industry. Symphonya. Emerging Issues in Management, 2, 1-16.
Sørensen, Hans Eibe (2015). Business Development. In Augier, M. & Teece, D. J.(Eds.) Palgrave’s Encyclopedia of Strategic Mangement. Palgrave Macmillan.
Sørensen, Hans Eibe. (2012). Business Development: a market-oriented perspective. John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
Kind, S., & Knyphausen-Aufseß, D. zu. (2007). What is “Business Development”? – The Case of Biotechnology. Schmalenbach Business Review, 59(2), 176–199.
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