What Is a Business Development Strategy? Here’s How to Create One

what is business development strategy?

Any company or startup that wants to grow needs business development. But growing your business doesn’t simply mean hiring a business development executive or manager and hoping for the best. It all starts with a business development strategy.

But when you think about business development, who is supposed to be in charge of growing the business exactly?

Is it the marketing team? The sales team? marketing ‘and’ sales? What about the human resources department? The general manager?

For many, business development is a sales role. For others, it’s a tech-focused role. And for another group, it’s a combination of marketing and sales.

In this article, we’ll explore what business development is, what the differences between sales and business development roles are, and more. We’ll also show you how to create a business development strategy to drive your company forward.


What is business development?

Business development is the process and concept of growing your business and making it more successful.

Developing a business can mean many things for different organizations.

It can be improving internal processes to make them more efficient and effective, to save time or money, or both.

For example, companies moving from digitizing their processes and embracing digital transformation are doing business development.

Business development can also mean attracting more clients and  building longer-term relationships with them.

It may also mean creating partnerships in different business verticals and building customer retention.

In other words, business development isn’t one thing. It involves many aspects, operations, and even teams in a business.

A business development needs to collaborate with marketing, sales, HR, manufacturing, supply chain, legal, and other teams in a company.

It’s worth mentioning that the business development process takes longer to identify and achieve.

The Society for Marketing Professional Services compares sales to hunting and business development to farming. “[…] business development is more like farming: It’s a longer-term investment of time and energy and not always a quick payoff.”


What is a business development strategy?

To develop and grow your business, you need to have a strategy. A business development strategy.

When you think about creating a business development strategy for your business, you first need to remember that business development encompasses all teams and departments in your company.

Compared to other business strategies, like your marketing strategy and sales strategy, your business development strategy takes longer and has a longer-term effect.

“When it comes to organizational growth, business development acts as the thread that ties together all of a company’s functions or departments, helping a business expand and improve its sales, revenues, product offerings, talent, customer service, and brand awareness.” – American Express


Sales versus business development

Many companies, managers, and even individuals often think sales and business development are the same thing. Same roles. Same skillsets. Same targets.

But the truth is, while they overlap in some areas, they aren’t the same.

That’s why, before we explore how to create a business development strategy, we must differentiate between sales and business development.



Sales is often viewed as short-term and quicker deal-making. Although this depends heavily on the product or service being sold.

Business development, on the other hand, is a long-term process. It can take months, or even years, to achieve some business development objectives.

Salespeople have monthly and quarterly targets or quotas to achieve. This is not the case for business development.



Business development executives and managers need to have great negotiation skills.

Both roles involve convincing others. Sales teams need to convince customers, clients, or prospects to buy a product or service. Their objective is to increase the company’s revenues.

Besides negotiation skills, business development executives and managers need to have people skills and leadership skills. They need to be able to drive people at different career stages, of different ages and skills, towards a common goal.


Types of tasks

In the business-to-business (B2B) and tech segments, not only do salespeople close deals, but also ensure the customer receives the product or service. They’re also tasked with maintaining a relationship with that customer to turn them into a repeat customer.

Meanwhile, business development teams focus on the nurturing process. Their role may not necessarily involve closing deals, but may rely more on building relationships and partnerships. They may guide prospects towards the sales team.



Business development and sales teams tend to have different targets. While both may close deals, business development teams need to research ways to grow the business.

This may include looking at:

  • Researching potential markets to expand the business to
  • Review ways to outsource non-core business functions to reduce costs
  • Set objectives and targets for other teams in the company, including the sales team
  • Use technology to speed up internal operations to improve efficiency


Why do you need a business development strategy?

The benefits of having any strategy are setting goals, working in steps, and measuring the results of your work. A business development strategy is no exception.

Having a business development strategy means creating a roadmap to guide your next steps and help you achieve your goals. It also helps you create goals for other teams and departments in your company so they, too, can create internal strategies to achieve those goals.

Moreover, a business development strategy not only includes the steps, but also the different initiatives needed to achieve your goals and grow the business.

From an economic perspective, business development means more jobs created, more business and economic activity, and increased investments.


How to create a business development strategy

There are 5 main steps to follow when creating your company’s business development strategy.


1) Identify your target audience 

The first step in creating your business development strategy is to identify your ideal target audience. That’s the audience that will drive your company to new highs.

It’s worth noting that you don’t need to have a large audience, but it should be of high quality.

If your company operates in several industries or niches, you may need to identify your audience for each niche.


2) Conduct your market research 

Once you’ve identified your audience, you should conduct market research to understand their buying behavior, market dynamics, and more.

The market research step is about learning all you can about your target audience. Your research should also encompass your competitors to see how you compare to them and where you’re different.

Your research should answer the following questions about your target audience:

  1. What are their main problems?
  2. What kinds of products or services are they using to solve these problems?
  3. How does your company’s product or service solve their problems?
  4. How does your company’s product or service stand out from the competition?


3) Decide which channels to use

It’s time to determine which channels you’ll use to develop the business. These channels are sometimes referred to as business development strategies.

The most common channels for business development are:

  •       Networking

Networking is one of the oldest methods for getting business because you’re directly connecting with potential customers.

In today’s always-online world, networking is no longer just in-person, you can network online and drum up business. This means more opportunities for growth and business development.

  •       Referrals

Referrals are great for getting quality clients and building relationships faster. However, it’s not easy to measure referrals.

In addition, and specifically in business development, relying on referrals is considered a passive method to get business.

  •       Advertising

You can collaborate with your marketing team and use paid online ads to generate leads. Online advertising is measurable and can be very effective if you nail your target audience.

  •       Content marketing

In recent years, content marketing has gained traction as being an effective business development method. Content marketing serves various parts of the business, including marketing, sales, business development, and sometimes even HR.

One of the benefits of content marketing is that it’s not intrusive. Potential customers discover your brand organically. You don’t have to pay for ads, conduct cold calls, or ask for referrals. Customers search for ways to solve their needs and find your content.

However, it’s important to note that content marketing is a long-term process and strategy.


4) Define SMART goals

Create SMART goals. SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound.

It’s how you keep track of your progress and performance and measure the results of your efforts.

You should set SMART goals for each business development channel you plan to use.

5) Identify your partners

Finally, you should identify which teams in your company you need to collaborate with to achieve your business development strategy.

Often business development teams will collaborate with many if not all teams in a company. However, not all teams will have the same targets.

For example, a business development manager may ask work HR to create an inclusive compensation and benefits strategy that increases employee retention.

They may turn to business process outsourcing to reduce costs or help employees focus on the core business.

They may collaborate with the marketing team to create a content marketing strategy to attract potential customers online. They may also create content such as case studies or whitepapers to build the company’s authority in a certain niche.

They may also work with marketing to create ads to generate leads.

A business development team may collaborate with the legal department to ensure they’re abiding by relevant laws when expanding the business in more states, governorates, or cities. They may also work with legal to see how they can expand globally.


Wrapping it up

Business development is about finding ways to get your whole company to collaborate together to drive your business forward.

Generally speaking, this should be what every team is working to do. However, the broad vision may sometimes get lost in the day-to-day activities.

With an effective and clear business development strategy, managers and team leaders shouldn’t lose sight of that vision.


Need help creating an HR strategy that helps you achieve your business development strategy? Need help with business process outsourcing services? Or maybe even creating your business development strategy? Then get in touch with Tawzef

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