Sales Performance

Understanding Business Development: Strategy, Plan, and Skills

Published by:
Prateek Mathur

Table of content

Ever wondered what makes businesses tick and grow like Jack’s Beanstalk? 

Spoiler: It's not magic beans but the art of business development.

This crucial facet of any thriving business involves a blend of strategy, keen insight, and a dash of creativity to not only survive but thrive in today’s competitive landscape.

Understanding the essence of business development and mastering its components can propel your company forward, allowing you to seize opportunities and navigate challenges with finesse. 

Whether you’re aiming to expand your market reach, forge valuable partnerships, or innovate your offerings, grasping the fundamentals of business development is the first step towards achieving sustained growth.

In this blog, we’ll delve into the strategies, plans, and skills necessary for effective business development. 
Let’s get started!

What is Business Development?

Business development refers to ideas, initiatives, and activities to improve a business. 

This includes:

  • Increasing revenues and growth in terms of business expansion.
  • Increasing profitability by building strategic partnerships.
  • Making strategic business decisions. 

It impacts various departments within a company, from sales and marketing to product management and customer service. 

By improving these areas through strategic planning, relationship management, and market analysis, business development professionals enhance the overall productivity and efficiency of the business.

However, the term can vary significantly across industries and individual companies, often tailored to specific business needs and management strategies.

Business Development vs. Sales

While often used interchangeably, the roles and objectives of business development and sales are distinct, each contributing uniquely to the business's growth and profitability. Understanding these differences is crucial for effectively allocating resources and strategizing growth.

Comparison of Business Development and Sales Roles

Business development and sales functions overlap, but their core focuses differ significantly. Sales roles primarily involve hitting revenue targets through customer acquisition and retention. 

In contrast, business development seeks broader opportunities such as forming strategic partnerships, exploring new markets, and developing business strategies that help scale the business in the long term.

Business Development’s Role Within the Sales Organization

Within a sales organization, business development acts as a bridge to larger strategic goals. 

While sales focus on direct customer interactions and closures, business development works on creating a supportive environment for these sales by: 

  • Enhancing product offerings
  • Entering new markets.
  • Developing the organizational infrastructure necessary for sales growth.

Business Development’s Focus on Finding New Growth Opportunities and Partnerships

Unlike the sales team's direct selling approach, business development professionals focus on finding new growth opportunities that may not have immediate financial benefits but are crucial for long-term success. 

This includes: 

  • Scouting for potential partnerships.
  • Negotiating alliances, strategic mergers, or acquisitions.
  • Exploring new sectors or geographic markets that align with the company's growth strategies.

Sales Focus on Identifying Leads and Closing Deals

The sales department's main objective is to identify potential leads and convert them into customers, thus directly generating revenue. 

Sales professionals employ tactics and strategies to close deals, including negotiations, discounts, and tailored marketing pitches focused on immediate sales targets and quotas.

Creating a Business Development Strategy

Below, we break down the essential components of crafting a strategy that targets growth and ensures your business's viability and competitive edge.

1. Crafting an Effective Elevator Pitch

An elevator pitch is crucial as it succinctly and persuasively encapsulates what your company does, its unique value proposition, and why it matters. This pitch is used in networking opportunities and serves as the cornerstone of your marketing and sales communications, ensuring a consistent message is conveyed.

2. Setting SMART Goals for Direction and Measurement

SMART goals—Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound—provide clarity and a timeline for achieving business objectives. 

Setting SMART goals in business development helps keep efforts focused and makes it easier to measure progress and outcomes effectively.

3. Conducting a SWOT Analysis to Identify Growth Areas

A SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) helps understand the internal and external factors affecting your business. 

This analysis is critical in identifying areas for growth, potential challenges, and the strategic moves that can leverage your company’s strengths while mitigating risks.

4. Defining the Target Audience and Conducting Market Research

Understanding your target audience is fundamental in tailoring your business development strategies to meet your market's specific needs and preferences. 

Comprehensive market research aids in gathering insights about your customers, competitors, and the overall market dynamics, which are essential for informed decision-making.

5. Identifying Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for Success Measurement

KPIs are quantifiable measures used to evaluate an organization's success or a particular activity in which it engages. In business development, common KPIs might include revenue growth, the acquisition of new clients, market penetration, and customer loyalty. These indicators help in assessing the effectiveness of the implemented strategies.

Read: Understanding and Measuring Sales Effectiveness Metrics

6. Planning a Budget and Focusing on Strong Customer Service

Budget planning ensures that all business development activities are financially viable and that resources are allocated efficiently. Simultaneously, emphasizing strong customer service can distinguish your business from competitors, fostering customer retention and new client referrals.

7. Incorporating a Detailed Sales Plan, Including Strategy, Goals, and Benchmarks

A detailed sales plan aligns the business development strategy with actionable steps. 

This plan should: 

  • Outline the sales strategy.
  • Set clear sales goals.
  • Establish benchmarks that act as progress indicators. 

It ensures that the sales team’s efforts are integrated with broader business development goals, enhancing overall efficiency and effectiveness.

Read: Steps to Create a Successful B2B Sales Strategy

What is a Business Development Plan?

A strategic business development plan is essential for aligning a company’s goals with practical, actionable steps to drive growth and competitiveness. 

This plan serves as a blueprint that outlines how a company will achieve its development goals through specific business processes and activities.

1. Importance and Purpose of a Strategic Business Development Plan

A strategic business development plan is crucial for defining a company's direction and scope over a specified period. It helps businesses prioritize resources, manage risks, and strategically navigate market opportunities. It aims to align day-to-day operations with long-term objectives, ensuring that all efforts are cohesive and contribute to overall growth and sustainability.

2. Steps for Crafting an Effective Business Development Plan

Creating a robust business development plan involves several key steps:

  • Assessment of Current Market Position: Evaluate where you stand in the market compared to your competitors. This includes analyzing customer feedback, market trends, and internal capabilities.
  • Goal Setting: Based on your assessment, set clear, achievable goals to enhance your market position and increase business opportunities.
  • Strategic Initiatives: Identify the key initiatives that will help achieve these goals. This might involve entering new markets, developing new products, or enhancing customer service.
  • Resource Allocation: Determine the resources necessary for these initiatives, including budget, personnel, and technology.
  • Implementation Timeline: Develop a timeline for when each phase of the strategy will be implemented, with specific milestones to track progress.

3. Choosing an Outreach Strategy Keeping the Target Audience in Mind

An effective outreach strategy is tailored to the preferences and behaviors of your target audience. This includes selecting the right communication channels, whether social media, email marketing, direct sales calls, or industry events. 

Understanding the customer's journey and decision-making process is key to designing interactions that convert interest into actionable business opportunities.

4. Developing Sales Content from Success Stories and Promoting Thought Leadership

Leveraging success stories and thought leadership can significantly enhance your brand's credibility and attractiveness. Create detailed case studies showcasing how your solutions have solved real-world client problems. 

Additionally, you can establish your company as a thought leader by contributing insightful articles, speaking at industry conferences, and participating in webinars. This type of content not only attracts potential customers but also builds trust and reinforces the value of your offerings.

Business Development Process Implementation

Implementing an effective business development process involves a series of strategic actions and the use of technology to streamline activities. This section outlines the key steps for successful implementation and how they contribute to achieving business development goals.

1. Conducting Outreach and Raising Visibility

Effective outreach is crucial for raising your business's visibility. This can be achieved through various marketing and public relations strategies that enhance your presence in targeted markets. Tactics might include digital marketing, attending industry events, direct outreach campaigns, and leveraging social media platforms to engage with a broader audience.

2. Providing Exemplary Customer Service and Nurturing Prospects

Providing excellent customer service is a cornerstone of successful business development. 

This includes: 

  • Responding promptly to inquiries.
  • Addressing customer concerns effectively.
  • Going above and beyond to meet customer needs. 

Additionally, nurturing prospects through regular follow-ups and personalized communications can convert leads into loyal customers.

3. Using CRM Software like Zendesk Sell to Align Business Development Plans

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software, such as Zendesk Sell, is vital for aligning your business development plans with customer needs and sales activities. 

CRM tools help manage customer data, track interactions, and automate sales processes. This alignment ensures that all team members are informed and can make data-driven decisions that align with company goals.

4. Streamlining Communication and Workflow Among Departments

Smooth communication and workflow between departments are essential for implementing business development strategies effectively. 

Establishing clear communication channels and workflow processes helps ensure that information flows seamlessly between teams. This collaboration fosters innovation and efficiency, allowing for quick adaptations to market changes or business opportunities.

Business Development Tools and Resources

Successful business development relies on strategies skills, and the right tools to implement these plans effectively. Here's a look at some key tools that can support your business development efforts:

1. HubSpot Sales Hub

HubSpot Sales Hub is a comprehensive sales platform that integrates various aspects of business development, from lead management to sales automation. 

Its features include: 

  • Email tracking.
  • Meeting scheduling.
  • Performance insights.
  • User-friendly interface.

This tool is particularly beneficial for aligning sales and marketing teams, ensuring they work cohesively towards common goals.

2. Bloobirds

Bloobirds is designed specifically for B2B sales teams. It transforms business development into a more data-driven and structured process. 

It helps sales teams: 

  • Manage their pipeline.
  • Streamline prospecting processes.
  • Automate many mundane tasks. 

Bloobirds is especially useful for businesses looking to scale their outbound sales efforts efficiently.

3. Leadfeeder

Leadfeeder is a lead generation tool that identifies companies visiting your website and tracks their behavior. This information is crucial for understanding which products or services attract potential customers and tailoring follow-up communications effectively. 

Leadfeeder integrates with CRM systems, enhancing lead qualification and helping to prioritize follow-ups based on visitor interest.

4. LinkedIn

LinkedIn remains an invaluable resource for business development professionals. 

As a platform, it facilitates: 

  • Networking.
  • Industry research.
  • Prospecting.
  • Thought leadership.

Utilizing LinkedIn for building and nurturing professional relationships can lead to new business opportunities, partnerships, and insights into industry trends.

Read: Building High-Quality LinkedIn Sales Navigator Lists

Utilizing Tools to Support Business Development Efforts and Streamline Tasks

Incorporating these tools into your business development strategy can significantly enhance your team's productivity and effectiveness. By automating data entry, lead tracking, and follow-up tasks, these tools free up time for strategic thinking and relationship building. Additionally, they provide valuable insights that can inform decision-making and strategy refinement.

Leveraging Activated Scale for Enhanced Business Development

Having access to the right sales talent is crucial in the dynamic realm of business development, where the goal is to foster growth and create sustainable long-term value. 

Activated Scale addresses this need by providing startups and small businesses with reliable access to vetted and seasoned fractional sales talent. As part of a comprehensive business development strategy, integrating Activated Scale can significantly enhance a company’s ability to scale its sales operations and drive growth efficiently.

Key Benefits of Activated Scale:

  • Cost-effective Sales Solutions: We offer a 'try before you hire' model, allowing you to gauge the effectiveness of sales professionals before making a long-term commitment. This can be particularly advantageous for startups and small businesses looking to optimize costs while scaling operations.
  • Experienced Sales Talent: By focusing on providing access to experienced sales experts, businesses can overcome common challenges such as uncertainty around when to hire salespeople and the suitability of fractional sales approaches.
  • Better Sales Cycle Management: We specialize in staffing and streamlining the entire sales process, ensuring that you can focus on growth while leaving the complexities of sales management to the experts.


Crafting an effective business development strategy is essential for any company aiming to thrive in today's competitive market. 

By setting SMART goals, conducting a thorough SWOT analysis, and defining a precise target audience, you can create a robust foundation for growth. Utilizing key tools like HubSpot and LinkedIn will further enhance your strategy – streamlining tasks and improving outreach efforts.

Furthermore, incorporating a platform like Activated Scale can revolutionize the way you approach sales by enabling you to leverage professional expertise in a flexible and cost-effective manner. 

Contact us today for a personalized consultation to learn more about integrating Activated Scale into your business development strategy or to start optimizing your sales process.

Hire Sales Talent Now!

Get in Touch Now!

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Dominate Your Market: Hire Fractional Experts

Hire Sales Talent

Related articles