As a concept, business development is nebulous, with many different interpretations. Ask ten BD executives what it is and you’ll likely get ten different answers, some vague and some concrete. Some people say BD is sales; others will describe it as partnerships. Still others will tell you BD is all about hustling and getting deals done.

Some of the activities that fall under business development include market research, strategy planning, lead generation and sales. In a smaller company, BD may also involve networking and finding new opportunities for growth. In more complex organizations, it can include establishing strategic alliances with third parties or investing in other companies to acquire technology, products or intellectual property.

The goal of a good BD team is to identify ways to grow the company, increase revenue or improve profitability. To accomplish this, teams should create SMART goals and conduct a SWOT analysis. They should then set up processes to ensure that those goals are met. Typically, this involves identifying the company’s strengths and weaknesses as well as its current markets and potential future markets. This helps the BD team establish strategies to overcome any challenges that might stand in its way.

Because BD involves so many aspects of a company, it’s important to have clear communication with the departments that impact your ability to succeed such as marketing and product development. Additionally, it’s a good idea to use software such as lead generation and sales force automation to streamline communications and data access.

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