Finding the right type of person to fill a Business Development role is not an easy task. Let’s just start with the fact that there is no true consensus from people on what Business Development truly is about. Some of the Linkedin groups on BD I belong to, have been also debating the subject.
On the positive side, finding a highly competent business development person or team will allow you to build and nurture relationships with partners, from your customers to your industry associates to brand ambassadors—real, mutually beneficial relationships that offer you opportunities to grow at a faster pace and with less resources.
There is no one sure formula for filling the positions in your business development department. It depends on the requirements and goals/objectives of the business as always. But here are some tips I have implemented when hiring for the business development role. I hope they can be applicable to your business:
Review strategic thinking skills. The common image of an ideal business development person is someone who is energetic, charismatic, a fast talker and a crazy good deal maker. But all this is just “fluff” if they have no strategic vision. Get someone who will be involved in understanding of your business objectives and who has the ability to map and plot the next moves on how to achieve them.
Look for the ability to take the right action. Your business landscape may be fast-changing, so it’s important to hire business development people who can communicate effectively, think on their feet, be flexible to situations, and be quick to adapt to new trends or competitors in the market. If they are equipped with strategic vision, they can take calculated risks and be fearless when negotiating deals without putting the reputation of your business under threat.
Check for process and systems. Make sure your business development person is not a one-hit wonder. You want someone who can deliver consistent results. This is only possible if the person you hire has established, proven and tested deal SOPs and processes that give structure to his or her supposed genius. Working with an SOP ensures that all details of each deal are covered and that there will be a system to follow to give order during high-stress times.
Finding the right person will be tricky, but that is just the beginning.
Once you hire the best business development people for your startup or growing company, the next steps are to train and motivate them since they are going to need to be able to work at different stages of the journey.
Your New Business Development Person’s Journey
The first thing a new business development person should do is Research and Plan so they can truly understand where the company, market and competitors are at. If your business development person does not spend any time doing this when they join, and just want to go out and close deals, it will most likely mean that they are not going to do well in the position. (They will not focus on details, which are crucial to BD and will do any deal for deal sakes).
Once the research phase is done then the BD person should be comfortable going out and building relationships and perhaps at this point they closed some deals. This is not when they have to ramp up things; just because they are closing does not mean they are getting the right kinds of partners. This is the time when the BD person needs to Monitor, Evaluate and Iterate.
Some questions they should ask themselves:
- Were the partners they chose engaged?
- Are they able to fulfill on the promises they made?
- Can the partners service the customers the right way?
- What has worked and what has not?
- Could there be a conflict in terms of competing for the same end customers?
Once all the feedback, lessons and information learnt is gathered and processed, then they should laser focus on the most successful partners. By now they should now know what to look for in a partner and what not to. This is when they can start to ramp up and increase the speed of deal velocity to achieve Growth.
I know there are other aspects to look for when hiring like company fit, how they follow up when you meet, how they engage and get along with others, how they build and nurture relationships, but I think I would like to ask you the readers:
How do you hire For Business Development ?