Business Development for Competitive Advantage
The Business Magazine reports in its December/January issue that the APS launches its Business Development special interest group.
Read here why Business Development is a trend which is gaining momentum due to the fact it delivers predictable revenue and supports sales transformation.
Business Development for Competitive Advantage
There is an increasing trend for enlightened companies to invest in strategic business development as a key element of the sales process, writes Lee Edney director at Clarify. So much so, the Association of Professional Sales (APS) has launched a special interest group to promote the benefits of business development.
Although Business Development has a significant impact on the sales process the value it has on an organisation in terms of generating predictable revenue and supporting sales transformation initiatives means it should not be underestimated by those responsible for P&L. Investing in a Business Development strategy has been proven to positively impact profitability 24 and 36 months down the line.
At the launch of its special interest group, Ben Turner, Managing Director of the APS defines business development as ‘a distinct part of the sales process, designed to create, qualify and develop sales opportunities from identification to forecast.’
He continues, “A corporate Business Development strategy will define the conditions within a sales process that create a higher chance of sales success and an organisation’s ability to replicate this at scale and to maintain focus despite short term environmental pressures.”
“Inputs into the BD phase are sales-directed target account planning activities and marketing generated leads and insight. The output is forecast ready pipeline.”
This latter point is important, because the shift in the way that marketing, selling and buying behaviour has changed in recent years has altered the way that organisations are starting to view and more importantly value, business development.
Selling practices at the consultative end of the market are becoming highly sophisticated, while at the opposite end, the explosion of online transactional selling means that marketing has an ever more vital role to play in engaging well educated and highly active buyers.
This challenge is pitted against a backdrop where sales teams have to focus on the short term and the marketing horizon is pushed much further out – this is where business development fills the gap and has the capacity to create transformational change.
Clarify is a BD specialist and has been instrumental in defining the Business Development space for the past 12 years, working with both smaller expansion mode tech start-ups and global tech giants with its methodology described by one client as ‘taking my very best enterprise sales people and dedicating all of their time to business development.’ Organisations investing in creating best-in-class BD capabilities report higher levels of sales productivity, more consistent pipeline performance and higher value deals.
However, when building an external BD capability one of the key considerations is alignment – aligning the right type of business development approach to ensure the right results. Here value, complexity and maturity of the sales proposition are all important factors.
For example, if you are selling a recognised and established commodity product or service where you are differentiating primarily on features and price, your approach should be very different to a situation whereby selling is more heavily focused on articulating business value across large or multiple buying centres. And a different strategy is needed for taking a new proposition to market where the sales cycle is likely to include a long educational phase.
It may seem obvious but it is often an oversight many companies make; getting the right approach is key, the right alignment of sales marketing and BD resources is vital to delivering significant gains.
When the UK arm of a global services enterprise needed to extend its mature client base by increasing new logo acquisitions, it required a sophisticated Business Development approach. It recognised that existing approaches to business development weren’t working.
For example, telemarketing and marketing-led lead generation campaigns provided strong brand awareness but frequently lacked the high quality engagements needed for a strategic account. The inside sales team were typically too focused on closing small value deals to break into new accounts so aligning specific areas of the business – namely those involved with high value consultative engagements – with strategic business development became key. As a result external Business Development expertise from Clarify was brought in to support the sales team.
The impact of a BD programme was compelling; the sales team were able to engage and influence opportunities earlier in the sales cycle. High quality sales engagements were passed to the sales team with multiple stakeholders identified and the right deals were matched to the right sales people and teams at the right time.
The results demonstrated Business Development was now a strategic asset to the business with 32% of UK new business pipeline coming directly from Clarify. This is not unusual, for another client Clarify contributed 35% (all new logo) of overall pipeline to support a sales team of six for less than the cost of one new field sales head. In terms of all sales opportunities handed across to the sales team, 86% progressed into the pipeline.
To put this into a financial perspective and to quote another global Clarify client “Our internal sales team of six people added £200K to the pipeline; in the same fiscal period Clarify’s team of three BD Managers added £6million.”
Managing Director of the APS, Ben Turner comments “Business development is a vital part of the sales function, to understand it better, to gain clarity and thought leadership in this area helps to enrich the APS membership with ideas that add value to the sales organisation as a whole. This is why the Business Development Community within the APS has been created, we hope the ideas that are formed and shared within this group can give insight to members and the wider sales profession.”
Although as a function Business Development will sit within the sales process, the impact it has can be transformational on the overall business revenue; creating higher growth, combating margin erosion in legacy offerings, increasing sales productivity and accessing new markets.