Business Development Is Strategic

BD is all about strategy, about identifying a need or opportunity in the marketplace and a partner who can give you an advantage in meeting that need. To conceive of a BD deal takes vision and a problem- solving nature, coupled with knowledge of the marketplace and the major players.

You’ll need to paint a vivid picture of what the opportunity is: how working together with a sumo your two companies can take advantage of the opportunity and what the upside potential is. You’re part sto- ryteller and part inspirational leader as you begin testing the waters. When pitching a company, you don’t just talk about making money. Instead, you seize ownership of how your vision will actually grow the sumo’s business. Yes! You are so passionate about the possibilities that the sumo will soon look to you for help in their own arena.

Sales, on the other hand, is about selling something tangible or concrete in concept. It’s about meeting an immediate need a company has for something. As I often say, it’s about selling paper cups. There’s really nothing strategic about it. As a paper cup sales rep, your job is to track down which companies need cups and then sell them as many as you can. Pretty straightforward. Sure, you may need to do a little digging to find the right procurement contact for paper products, but that’s about the extent of your strategizing.Then it’s primarily a numbers game. How many cups do they want, what specifications do they have, how many can you deliver, how quickly, and at what price? You focus on your quick objection responses and, hopefully, you get the order.

You wouldn’t take a BD approach to selling paper cups because it simply isn’t needed. Persuading a customer to purchase cups has more to do with product features, availability, delivery speed, and cost than anything else. So you don’t need to try to get a meeting with senior management or build a relationship with your key contact over several months, as you would with a BD deal. They don’t need a vision of what life using your paper cups will be like; they just need you to make a deal with their procurement rep. It’s a transaction, not a company-altering event.

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