What is Business Development, Anyway?


question_mark_orangeSounds like a naive question at first, but when you think about it, BD takes on many different definitions, depending on the setting.  This was a question presented by a colleague on the Global Business Development Network. 

In the large corporate arena, such as Fortune 500 companies, the BD function tends to be clearly defined; it’s a function used primarily for licensing and acquistion transactions that support the company’s various business units.  For example, when I was the strategy head for one of Bausch & Lomb’s divisions, the BD team would seek licensing and acquisition deals that were consistent with my division’s objectives.

In a mid- to small-business setting, however, I think that BD means many different things, although I think it most commonly means the pursuit of new customers (sales function) and channels of distribution.

Thoughts?  What does BD mean in your industry?

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One response to “What is Business Development, Anyway?

  1. At a certain Fortune 25 corporation that shall be nameless here, the perception is clear (but not proven). That common perception is that Business Development came into being when Marketing looked around and found a very, very small percentage of the Marketing personnel actually had marketing experience, and an even smaller number of them actually had marketing degrees.

    Couple that with a Communications department with just about as much experience in communications elbowing their way into the “marketing” realm. “Marcom,” whoa … that’s another conversation.

    Knowing the product and/or the customer is not enough. You have to be able to “sell” it. What is it? Why doesn’t your customer need it? And why should they buy it from your company, as opposed to the competition? How hard is that? Foreign concepts to BD.

    Business development, yes that’s important. Marketing … whatever is developed still needs to be marketed … I mean having a business is still about making money right?

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