I attended a gathering of top Business Development execs in San Francisco the other day. Companies big and small were represented. This was a fantastic gathering because it gave all of us a chance to get to hear how other BD orgs are run and how their companies perceive and value the efforts of BD. The meeting got me thinking about all the organizations in the software industry where Business Development is a mysterious group of people hidden in offices spending company money meeting with other Business Development people, playing golf, having fancy dinners, and creating “Barney” press releases that are all sound and fury but ultimately don’t go anywhere.
To me, this is BAD Business Development, and there are many bad Business Development professionals out there giving the role a bad name.
At its best, Business Development is a powerful point of leverage that can launch your company to heights not achievable when attacking the market by yourself. Early stage or late stage, Business Development teams should augment the product, sales, and marketing organizations extending their reach in lead generation, revenue generation, awareness, utility, and more. It should be an exponent on the growth of your business, and in that context is remarkably valuable.
I think of this as a gravitational slingshot.
This is the technique that NASA uses to get satellites like Voyager I to the outer reaches of our solar system even though those spacecraft could not possibly carry enough fuel to get there themselves. NASA flew Voyager I by Jupiter to slingshot it to the farthest reaches of the solar system. If we think of a larger, more established company as Jupiter, and our small up and coming company as Voyager I, we can see the effect such a “partnership” can have.
If done correctly, Business Development can be a highly valuable way of slingshotting your company past competition and into a highly defensible, lucrative, leadership position.