The term “business development” is one of those phrases that somehow seems both perfectly self-explanatory, and intriguingly vague. Obviously, if someone says they are in business development, it means they are tasked with growing the business, and helping to make it a success. But what exactly does that entail? There are a lot of misconceptions surrounding business development, so here we’re going to look at 8 of the biggest business development myths.
1. Sales are the End Goal
You have probably heard the phrase “Everyone is in sales”, and while in the grand scheme of things, sales are extremely important, they are not the be-all and end-all, especially if you are in business development. While a sale may mark the culmination of negotiations or tender processes, it is only the beginning of your official professional relationship with that client. Although you may have met your clients many times by this stage, the period after the sale is like a second first-impression. Vanishing as soon as you’ve gotten what you want won’t have that client rushing back for more.
2. You’re Annoying
While the idea of NEVER taking no for an answer may not be the best one, persistence is still important. And any entrepreneur who truly puts themselves out there will know the familiar fear of feeling like a nuisance. Constantly reaching out, only to get no response, or told they’ll be in touch soon. This is where the ability to spot a dead end comes in handy. If you’re not actually able to meet a client’s need or solve a problem, then incessantly trying will annoy them. But if you know you genuinely can help them, it may be a matter of simply finding a time or means of communication that works. If this is the case, then you need to keep trying, or someone might swoop in and steal your jackpot at just the right moment.
3. Never Take No for an Answer
One point that you’ll hear from almost every successful entrepreneur is the value of persistence. Whether it’s J.K. Rowling submitting The Philosopher’s Stone to yet another published after 12 rejections, or Mark Cuban selling bin bags door-to-door, there’s no shortage of inspiring tales that highlight the value of persistence.
Harder to come by are the tales of people who knew when to quit and cut their losses. Persistence is admirable, but you need to be able to recognise a dead end when you see one, or you’ll end up wasting your time, money, and resources on a hopeless endeavour.
4. You’re Desperate
Another common fear among entrepreneurs that have been cursed with enthusiasm is that their zeal will be mistaken for desperation. “Desperate” is a word that nobody ever wants to be used to describe them, but in business, there is the added worry that coming off desperate could affect your ability to negotiate, or make it appear as though you struggle to find clients satisfied with the quality of your work.
In reality, most successful businesspeople will choose who they do business with based largely on their levels of enthusiasm, as it illustrates their level of devotion to succeeding. Showing no persistence at all won’t instill a great level of confidence in your abilities. Far from being viewed as desperation, the astute professional will see such enthusiasm as hunger for success, which is always a good thing.
5. Meetings Mean Progress
It should go without saying that meetings are a critical aspect of business development, so hopefully you haven’t just skimmed this post and cancelled all your meetings (although if you are skimming, you probably left after we called you annoying and desperate).
Whether they take place in-person or online, meetings are inevitable. But, the fact that meetings are such a common and deeply ingrained aspect of working life mean many people often take them for granted. As this mind-bogglingly large study of 19 million meetings shows, 40-50% of employees believe meetings cause confusion, loss of focus, and less time to do the actual work. While meetings are important, they do not represent progress. You need to ensure that each meeting has a goal, and avoid falling into the trap of bouncing ideas off each other, dispersing, and not having a clear path forward.
6. Clients are Forever
Our first point was that sales do not represent the end of the road, but the beginning of a relationship. But these relationships are not something that can be taken for granted. Securing a sale with a client once is absolutely no guarantee that they will be back, so it is critical that you follow up and maintain that relationship from the moment the sale is made. This will not only make a good impression, but also give you an opportunity to address any issues that may arise.
Even when you do put in the effort and nurture your client relationships, you need to be conscious of the fact that they could still disappear. Whether they find a better deal, go out of business, or simply don’t like the service, retaining clients is not something you will always be able to control.
7. You Can Buy SEO
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO, or “Google rankings”) has swiftly become a major consideration for most businesses across the globe. And like most niches that open suddenly, the SEO market was soon flooded with people offering quick fixes, reputational scrubs, increased conversions, the moon, and the stars. But when it comes to SEO, you want to consider the people you put in charge very carefully.
A major problem with SEO as a concept is that it follows computer logic, and there are plenty of people who have no problem reverse-engineering it and figuring out how to game the system. This is known as “black hat SEO”, and the real danger to you is that it works. In the short term. But by the time you’ve seen your site move up the page, and paid for the privilege, the engineers at Google have already figured out how their latest update has been hacked, and when they see you took advantage of the loopholes, they’ll hit you where it hurts most: your SEO score. In rare cases, they may even remove your site from Google altogether.
8. Business Development is Marketing
Finally, one of the most fundamental issues with business development is that so many people think of it as marketing, using the two terms interchangeably. But they are two very different things, and it is essential to know the distinction.
Business development can be best described as the pursuit of strategic opportunities. This can mean building and maintaining client relationships, identifying new markets, and developing new products. Marketing, on the other hand, is the act of presenting goods, services, and deals directly to consumers.
Business development is not always an easy road to travel. It involves plenty of rejection, dead ends, and disappointment. Oftentimes, it can seem like a neverending task, and in many ways, it is. Business development is never about a single client, product, or market. It is about moving on to the next opportunity. And if you can avoid making the mistakes we’ve looked at here, business development can be one of the most interesting, exciting, and lucrative career paths to take.