What is business development

In one of the organizations I worked few years ago, I can recall being approached by a colleague, who made a request to join the Business Development team (BD team).

“Are you joking or serious?” I exclaimed as this was not a typical request you get from a colleague.

I was trying hard to comprehend how my colleague did not understand that business development (BD) mainly refers to sales.

So, I took the next few minutes to educate him on what BD meant to us, in other to help manage his expectations and rethink his decision…

Diversified Views

Organisations have interpreted this concept in the light of their business objectives, some, for the sake of nomenclature assigned designation that the bearer hardly understands.

While others believe it is so called because it will bring about business expansion and capture new markets.

However, a large majority relates with the commonality in the slant towards sales and do agree that whatever definition you align with the concept must include sales and selling.

What then is BD?

Clearly Business Development cannot just be limited to selling, the scope is broader and it involves more levels of engagement with the customers and other business partners

BD goes beyond immediate gains derived from a one-off transaction. It entails nurturing relationships that guarantee a long-term business engagement, which will eventually bring about growth in the business.

So when you talk about BD, you are referring to the “big picture”. Which involves the business growth by leveraging on your current clientele size.

At the initial phase, prospective customers will engage your brand with a measure of doubt. I’m sure you can relate with this, because for me to buy from a new brand that I know little about- I search online, check review sites and my continued patronage will be a function of getting the promised value and the customer service experience.

Today’s consumer has more option, if they are left unengaged they tilt towards the organisation that engages them since technology and digital marketing has made it easy and faster to build an enduring relationship with customers.

So what should you emphasize?


Whether as a Sales attendant in a supermarket or a VP, Business Development for a multinational, you definitely want your customer to transact on an ongoing basis.

This lends credence to the research done by Frederick Reichheld of Bain & Company(the inventor of the net promoter score) that shows, a 5% increase in customer retention produces more than a 25% increase in profit.

This is because over time, the volume of products purchased by existing customer increases while the amount incurred in serving those customers significantly reduce.

And the exciting part is that these set of customers becomes your brand ambassadors- they begin to refer other customers to your company. What more can someone ask for?

Long-term relationships

So if you ask me, the emphasis should be on developing long term business relationships with your target market. There are several online tools that can be used to develop an ongoing engagement with the customer. This is very important so as to ensure top-of mind awareness

You do not want the customers to transact elsewhere.

And trust me when customers see value and attention they stay with you for as long as you are in business.

The length of the business relationship with your customer depends on the quality of value you provide.





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