3 Things You Should Do Before Engaging in Business Development

Through my work, I see many organizations that are eager to build strategic partnerships and sell their products and services to more customers.  While most organizations can agree that they want to pursue new distribution channels, alliances and customers, fewer have done the necessary pre-work required to make such business development efforts successful.  As a result, these organizations often spin their wheels, resulting in an inefficient use of time and money and less than impressive results.

After working with organizations to grow their businesses for the last 15 years, I have observed three key activities that can prevent this inefficient use of BD resources and promote meaningful results, impactful strategic partnerships and increased revenue.

1.     Do Your Research – Conducting market research is key to understanding the landscape and the trends that could impact your organization’s ability to grow.  Such research can include market scans, introductory conversations with prospective partners, and talking with with potential customers to understand their needs and preferences.

2.     Determine Resources – There is always an upfront investment that occurs when pursuing new business.  Your organization should determine what that investment should be – how much time, money and human resources are you willing to commit to this effort? 

3.     Finalize a Strategy – Once you have a solid understanding of the market and have started thinking about the resources you are willing to commit, you need to incorporate this knowledge into a strategy. This strategy should define:

  • Success – Determine the goals that the organization hopes to achieve through these BD efforts. Align these to specific metrics and milestones as much as possible.
  • The Business Model – Define an initial business model, which can be iterated on over time, before engaging in formal partnership/BD discussions.
  • Ideal Partners and Customers – In a world of limited resources, organizations should develop criteria for the types of partners and customers they want to pursue.

Taken together, these activities will contribute to more intentional, results-driven BD efforts and an efficient use of resources.  Without this type of planning, your organization is more likely to appear disorganized in front of potential partners and customers and have difficulty closing the right type of deals to take your organization to the next level.