Business development is a combination of strategic analysis, marketing, and sales. Business development professionals can be involved in everything from the development of their employers’ products and services, to the creation of marketing strategies, to the generation of sales leads, to negotiating and closing deals.
The job of the business development professional is typically to identify new business opportunities—whether that means new markets, new partnerships with other businesses, new ways to reach existing markets, or new product or service offerings to better meet the needs of existing markets—and then to go out and exploit those opportunities to bring in more revenue.
Since the field is a cousin of marketing and sales, even when an organization doesn’t have a stand-alone business development department or employees with the phrase “biz dev” in their job titles, you can bet that folks in sales and/or marketing are handling business development responsibilities. You can find biz dev jobs in all industries—at everything from tech startups to huge pharmaceutical companies. What the work entails, exactly, depends on how big a company is and what industry it’s in.
What You’ll Do
Your job in business development may involve any or all of the following:
The first aspect of the business development professional’s job is typically to identify new business opportunities.
This means several things, in terms of what you’ll do. First, you’ll need to stay abreast of what’s happening in your industry—what your competitors are up to in terms of products and service offerings, pricing, marketing strategies, and so on. Second, you’ll need to make sure you understand what your company is up to on an ongoing basis—to understand your company’s strategy, how your company compares to its competitors, and how it’s perceived in the marketplace. Third, you’ll need to understand the market for your company’s offerings—who comprises it, and how it may be changing.
Next, as a business development professional, you’ll need to think creatively about everything you know about your company. This is the part of the job in which you identify possible ways to improve your company’s sales, which can mean identifying anything from new market segments (or individual potential clients), to new sales channels to sell through, to other, related products or services in the marketplace with which your company’s products or services can be combined into synergistic, “co-branded” offerings.
Some business development jobs aren’t called that at all. Instead, they’re called “strategic planning” or sometimes “corporate development.” Strategic planning jobs are found mostly at large, established companies seeking to expand and diversify their business. Just like management consultants, strategic planners spend a lot of time thinking about top-level strategy issues such as what new business activities their company should pursue, how it should position itself and market those activities, and which technologies it should invest in