What is business development?

The purpose of this blog is to discuss best practices for software business development.

So what is business development anyway? 

To many, it seems somewhat unclear or at least capable of wearing many hats.  To cynics, it can be an excuse for investing a lot of time and money for questionable results.  When done well, however, it produces game changing results. 

Business development is responsible for creating new revenue streams that the sales force can then stamp out in volume.  For purposes of this discussion, it is not another name for sales rep or inside sales rep.

In effect, business development helps scale direct sales.  Often, partners are used to leverage sales.  Partners may be used to increase distribution or reach customers direct sales cannot (for example, in new geographies or within certain market segments like small businesses or specific industries).  Partners can offer expertise, plug product gaps in your offering, or offer complementary solutions.

In addition to partners, business development can also develop new sources of revenue by creating new products or opening new markets.  Or, business development may seek to expand the business via mergers and acquisitions.  Folks focused entirely on M&A tend to be called corporate development and have a financial background.

Business development involves both selling and marketing, hunting and farming.  Successful practitioners have to be able to build channels from scratch and extend already existing alliances.  That means cold calling to recruit partners and then, once recruited, doing the real work of nourishing partners by aligning sales forces, forging relationships, establishing mind share, generating leads, priming the pump, closing deals, managing the partners.

If a new business is being created, the skill set becomes that of a general manager.  In addition to selling and marketing, a business plan defining the opportunity and resources required needs to be written, market research performed, a product developed and piloted, and customer support established.

This blog will focus initially on software channel management.  Future posts will address:

  • partner types
  • channel product requirements
  • definition of a successful partnership
  • enabling a successful partnership (partner management)
  • partner identification
  • partner selection criteria
  • partner recruiting
  • partner marketing
  • international expansion via channels
  • international product requirements
  • SaaS (software-as-a-service) channel considerations.

Look for the next post soon.

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