Farid Mohammad, Head of Business Development, Kinobi Singapore
This week we will be talking about debunking the common misconceptions of the business development role in big tech, continuing our series in Intro to Tech Sales. Let’s dive in!
Business Development (BD) = Business + Development.
What does it mean to be a BD Professional. As we have dissected them, Business simply means, what business are you in? What are you selling? What is your product or Service? Development is the tricky part of the role.
Especially for Small to medium-sized firms, naming the role your employees carry can be an especially tricky business. The confusion comes into play when a company offers you a Business Development role, but you realise, “Hey, I’ve been tricked! They actually want me to do Sales!”
In this article, we wish to debunk the common misconceptions of the Business Development Role within a large tech company. So here we go!
Misconception #1: Business Development = Sales
Perhaps the most common misconception of Business Development is that it’s just Sales in a more sophisticated title. However, the role of Business Development depends on what the company you’re working for needs.
In the context of BD in Big Tech, Business Development would involve meeting with prospects to help them develop a product which does not yet exist, but you believe your company is able to ramp up an existing product to meet the client(s) needs. On the other hand, Business Development, in perhaps, a company like Sephora, a cosmetics retailer, involves more of engaging brands for partnerships to onboard their product under the Sephora brand.
So why do some companies offer the Business Development Role, when really, they just want you to help them sell their products? Well, there’s a half-truth to naming it so. Especially for smaller companies, who are unable to afford the headcount, they typically hire a person to carry out a dual role of a Business Developer and a Sales Representative.
Therefore, this person may carry out the cold-calling of prospects to closing the sale to onboarding the new client. Another reason for doing so, would be for the simple reason of the stigmatization of the title of Sales Representative. Think about it, would you like it if you’re talking to someone, and the whole time you’re thinking that you’re being sold to…
Ultimately, as mentioned, it boils down to these 3 things:
- The size of the company
- The company’s product offerings
- Current Customer Base of the company
Misconception #2: Business Development Executives need to Sell to generate Revenue
While Business Development and Sales work very closely and function in the same funnel of generating revenue for a company, their responsibilities are certainly not the same. What do we mean by “function in the same funnel”?
In any company, when you have a product, and you are trying to generate that revenue, there is trickle-down effect in terms of how many potential clients/customers you reach out to, then how many that engage with you and eventually how many purchase your product.
To put it in simpler term, we have 3 stages when it comes to securing revenue for the company:
- Generating Awareness: Through the various mediums of cold calling, cold e-mails, building networks, leads generation (They work together with Marketing too at times for generating ad placements in various media platforms)
- Engaging with leads to address pain points as well as to educate leads on the company’s current product offerings via methods of engaging leads directly or through partnerships
- Conversion to sales: Securing the lead into a customer, where they will be onboarded to the company’s products and/or platform
The figure above would explain the “funnelling” role Business Developers play within a company. Business developers need not necessarily be involved in generating revenue for the company in the short run by closing deals. Instead, they are involved in the initial stages of securing revenue for the company, which in this case is generating awareness, education & engagement. Business development places an emphasis on the long-term view for the company.
Misconception #3: In that case, Business Development sounds a lot like Marketing!
It is true that Generating Awareness, Engagement & Education are functions of marketing as well. Marketing generates awareness, engages & educates its audiences with the use of advertisement and mass communication mediums, which happen to be mediums that business developers use as well.
However, the fundamental differences lie in terms of how closely connected business developers are to the customers in terms of having their ears close to the ground. Think of it like this:
- Marketing: You have a product or service, and your job is to find a strategy to make customers think of your brand when they are in need of a particular product or service, via the use of media channels. That way, you assist in drawing a connection between what customers want & need to what your company can potentially offer
- Business Development: You play it closer to the ground by actually finding out the prospective pain points and draw similarities between these group of consumers or clients.
The essential thing to note here is that marketing and business development are not mutually exclusive. Rather, both actually work very closely together, to ensure that there is both a consistent flow of information and style of messaging that is being passed down to these prospective consumers or clients.
Misconception #4: Business Development requires you to develop products
There’s half-truth to the statement as product development is a business development strategy. In the literal sense, given the context of a big tech company, a business developer will not be tasked to engineer an entire software.
Instead, a business developer will be more involved in the research phase of that product development stage. Additionally, they will be the bridge between the product development team, sales team and the customers.
We reiterate again that as a business developer, you may play both the role of someone who brings in current products in the market and evaluate them with your product development team, or someone who conjures up a completely novel idea and gets the product development team to engineer it.
So, in summary, what are the key pointers of the Business Development role?
In summary, apart from those misconceptions addressed earlier, here are some key pointers of the Business Development role in Big Tech Companies:
- The role in Business Development tends to be more inbound when the company already has a solid base of customers (i.e: getting in touch with customers, addressing their needs, handover to sales team to secure onboarding)
- The role of Business Development is often much more outbound where the business developer will be tasked with leads generation
- For smaller companies & depending on their product offerings, Business Developers can be tasked to handle all things from marketing to business development to sales.
- Building relationships with customers or clients is the single-most applicable skill across all Business Development roles
Ready to embark on your journey towards a career in Tech Business Development?
Watch closely for Kinobi’s Tech Business Development Digital Mentoring Program! You can reserve your place here!