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Relationship-First Approach to Business Development: Why It Matters

By Keith Orlean

Business development is a crucial aspect of any organization. It involves identifying opportunities for growth and expansion, building relationships with potential clients and partners, and ultimately increasing revenue. While the term "business development" may seem self-explanatory, there are different ways to approach this important function within an organization.

One way to approach business development is from a relationship perspective. For me, there is nothing more important than developing strong long lasting relationships in business. Doing so involves starting with your target audience and building relationships with potential clients and partners within companies within the industries that you do business with.

In a small company with a founder and a small sales team, everyone is responsible for business development. This means that the whole team must be well-versed in product knowledge, the target audience and the different methods the company uses to reach this market.

Prior to reaching out regardless of method it's important to determine whether the company is selling a B2B (business-to-business) product or service or a B2C (business-to-consumer) product or service. Sometimes, companies service both, which is known as B2B2C. A B2B company sells products directly to businesses, while a B2C company sells to consumers. A B2B2C company could be a manufacturer who sells to businesses but also has a direct-to-consumer division within their organization. Amazon is a good example of a B2B2C company, as they sell web services to businesses but were founded as a direct-to-consumer company (B2C).

In larger companies, there are generally different roles and responsibilities that fall under the heading of business development. These roles may include marketing, lead generation, networking, and more. Marketing plays a critical role in business development, as it is responsible for developing and executing strategies to reach the target audience. Lead generation involves identifying potential clients and partners and developing relationships with them. Networking involves building relationships with other businesses and organizations that can help the company grow and expand.

Regardless of the specific approach to business development, there are several key principles that are important to keep in mind. These include:

Focus on the target audience: The target audience is the foundation of business development. It is important to understand their needs, preferences, and pain points in order to develop products and services that meet their needs.

Build relationships: Building relationships with potential clients and partners is critical to business development. This involves developing trust and credibility, and demonstrating that the company is committed to meeting the needs of its clients and partners.

Be strategic: Business development should be a strategic process, focused on identifying opportunities for growth and expansion. It is important to prioritize opportunities and allocate resources accordingly.

Measure success: Business development efforts should be measured in order to determine their effectiveness. Metrics such as revenue growth, customer acquisition, and retention rates can help determine the success of business development efforts.

In conclusion, business development is an important aspect of any organization, regardless of its size or industry. Whether approached from a relationship perspective or through specific roles and responsibilities, the key principles of focusing on the target audience, building relationships, being strategic, and measuring success are critical to success. By keeping these principles in mind, organizations can develop and execute effective business development strategies that drive growth and expansion.

business development, relationship building, target audience, B2B, B2C, marketing, lead generation, networking, growth, expansion, strategy, measurement, revenue, customer acquisition, retention rates


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