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Have you ever had someone tell you they work in business development, only to leave you responding with a blank, unsure nod? Maybe you’ve further inquired as to what business development is, and they’ve given you an unclear answer. People often use vague, one word descriptions to explain business development, stating that business development is “sales” or it is “partnerships.” Clearly business development is more than this, but what exactly is it?

Business development is a field dedicated to ensuring that an organization has long-term value. It does so by managing the customers, markets and relationships that the company possesses.

If business development is about creating long-term value, let’s figure out what is meant my value. Value tends to be defined as money. After all, businesses literally thrive on money. While there are many methods out there to help you make a quick buck, business development does not involve get-rich-quick schemes. This would result in the company losing value just as quickly as it gained the value. Business development professionals work to ensure than the value of a company is long-term so that the organization is truly headed for success.

At the crux of any successful business is a set of reliable customers. After all, customers are what determines the success of a business. Business developers know that not every person is a natural customer for their specific organization. Those working in business development work to increase the customer base by adding features to products, or simply promoting the product. In addition to gaining customers, it is important to retain customers as well.

The difficulty with customers boils down to one key aspect: markets. Customers “live” in specific markets. Business developers strive to understand how these markets work. One method for understanding markets is assessing them geographically. If a company only focuses on one country, then anyone living outside of that country is unavailable to that company as a customer. But the market a customer “lives” within does not only have to do with the location in which they live. Markets can also be defined by lifestyles, demographics, and buying mindset. Entering new markets is one of the biggest keys to garnering long-term value.

Another key aspect to business development is building and maintaining relationships. Relationships with customers, partners, employees, the press, and more and a fundamental part of a business. Without creating, managing and leveraging these relationships, a company cannot truly have long-term value.
Business development professionals play a key role in helping organizations stay afloat. Every employee for a company must work to move the company forward, but having a team that solely works to lead the company to success is what truly results in that success.