Business development is often said to be equal parts art and science, but that view can be used as cover for poor process and the unpredictable outcomes that result. It’s true that biz dev require flexibility and creativity, but planning and process are crucial to increasing the likelihood of success.
Here are 5 keys that will get you closer.
Have clarity of purpose.
When setting out to grow a business, there are three general approaches available: build, buy or ally. Knowing when and why to ally, or partner, is a critical first step. Far too often, opportunistic biz dev ends in wasted resources and missed expectations.
Know the definition of success.
Before you set out to structure a deal or build a partnership, it’s crucial that you be clear on how it will be measured. What does success look like, both for you, individually, and for your company? What are the desired outcomes, and by what metrics will success be measured? (i.e. revenue, new customer acquisition, time-to-market)
Know your product cold.
No amount of charisma, polished presentations or skilled negotiation will offset a failure to deeply understand your own technology. If you don’t know your product cold, you lack credibility. Further, you’re likely to miss key integration details, putting the success of the partnership at risk. This isn’t to say that successful biz dev professionals don’t need support from technologists, but they shouldn’t be dependent on them.
Perfect your pitch.
Before approaching a prospective partner, not only must you know precisely what you seek to achieve, understand the measurements of success, and be well versed in your own product, you need to have a clear, compelling pitch. Above all, be prepared to answer the question: what’s in it for them?
Understand the ecosystem.
When pursuing one or more partners, it’s important to understand the landscape. Where are potential partners situated among the broader ecosystem? How do they compete with or compliment each other? Does success rely on doing a deal with the one, or can it come from one among a list of possible partners?