4 misconceptions about business development that turn business developers nuts

by | Mar 9, 2019

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These misconceptions about business development can really frustrate us. Read these tips to stop using them!

Misconceptions about business development is a reality! So much that during an event last month, someone asked me if there was one that I really dislike.

I do have quite a few and I was curious to know if other fellows experienced the same. So I asked Business Developers United!

This is the ranking of top misconceptions about business development that turn us crazy.

So, what are the comments that make business developers go nuts?

You are only a salesman just with a fancier title

Among all the misconceptions about business development, this is definitely the one that makes nearly all business developers freak out.

The main problem with this statement is that there is a lot more in business development than selling. As business developers, we can operate in many different ways depending on the company and the market we work with.

However, back in the days, someone decided to call salespeople “business developer”. That seemed like a smart move because, as Peter Thiel mentions, nobody likes to be reminded we are being sold to.

In this sense, business development does the trick. But what happens is that, because of some aggressive salespeople, this title is now also considered highly commercial.

The result is that whenever people see a business developer, they immediately think they will try to sell them something.

Which creates a lot of issues. First of all, it removes all the authority and trust people might have in our role.

As a business developer, even just making a genuine comment to a potential partner, seems like trying to get money out of their pockets.

Second, it definitely re-dimensions our role within the company, making it harder for us to let our voice heard. After all, who wants another junior sales person giving advice on how to enter a market or approach your customers?

This especially happens in companies where there is no communication between departments.

And last, well, it’s simply not all that we do! While it’s true that many companies require business developers to mainly work on sales, it is absolutely not the norm!

 

Business Development means nothing, anyone can be one

Number two in our ranking of the most frustrating misconceptions about business development is thinking that anyone can be good at it.

Because of course, business development means everything and nothing, so you don’t really need skills, right? 

Have you noticed that most of the business development positions are entry-level and super unclear?

I’ve analyzed the job descriptions of tens of European companies. No matter the size or authority of the company, the general trend was to be very vague.

Now, my question is, if nobody really knows what business development is, how can you confidently say that anyone can be one?!

The biggest problem here is that companies tend to turn to business development when they’re trying to grow but don’t really have an idea of how to do it.

What happens then is that the founder or manager decides that they need a business developer, probably a junior, so they can let him/her do that one task they designed.

When they do so, they don’t necessarily look for skilled people that actually have a solid background. As long as they can talk to clients, they’re hired.

But business development is definitely NOT for everyone. You need people that have the right mindset to consistently and steadily grow your company.

And if you think anyone can do that, you’re gonna pay the consequences of such a poor choice with a loss of reputation or, in the best-case scenario, with no results at all! 

 

Clients or managers expecting you to close a deal in one week

A big frustration comes from clients or managers that expect business developers to close deals in an unreasonable amount of time.

The big problem here is related to expectation management. Very often, the person in charge of hiring new business developers is not necessarily into the field.

This leads to having a personal idea of how things should work that doesn’t always match with reality. 

Let’s say you are a founder and you are busy overseeing the company and your main goal is to scale it up.

If you hire a business developer, it represents a cost and you want your return as soon as possible. But, when doing so, you need to keep it real.

The learning curve in business development – depending on seniority and type of job – can go from 3 to 12 months.

Besides, do you know what’s the average close rate for your deals? Depending on the clients or partners you try to approach, this can vary quite a lot.

If you know this information, it’s quite obvious that you can’t get results in a short time and that you need to be patient and realistic!

 

Business Development is a one-man show

Last, in our ranking, the belief that a business developer can achieve sustainable growth by him/herself.

One of the striking data from the survey we launched last year, is that most of the business developers conceive themselves as lone wolves. And that’s quite frustrating.

Business development it’s a powerful tool, however, thinking that one person can make your company explode is not very realistic.

By its nature, business development needs the support of all the other teams and resources in the company. It’s not feasible for one person only to cover so many aspects of the business.

Let’s say your business developers are reaching out to potential partners. They will most likely need resources (to attend events, buy tools, etc.) and cross-department skills (marketing campaigns, product updates, etc.).

If you see business development as a way to unlock opportunities, you need to accept that you will need to enable access to resources and the workforce to achieve your goals.

From a business developer perspective, it’s also important to make sure that your requests are solid. And most importantly that you reach the right stakeholders in the company.

After all, a company works like a big assembly line. Each team needs to work together to create the final product and this applies also to business development.

Read also: What does a business developer do on a daily basis ?

How can we stop this from happening?

The bottom line is that the misalignment on what business development actually is often results in miscommunication.

This comes with a lot of frustration on business developers who ultimately can decide to leave your company.

To prevent that, make sure you help them develop and keep creating value for your company

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Author

Lucia Piseddu

Founder at The BD School

The thing I love the most in business development is its creative process. My job is to help people unleash their potential and become great at business development.

Are you ready to grow in business development?

 

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