As you grow your business development organization, you have choices about structuring your team. Learn about the pros and cons of structuring your group by region, business unit, relationship type, or industry.
- As the business development team grows, people begin to specialize. At Spotify, business development is divided by type of relationship. Different teams might focus on hardware, software, platforms, and media, four key elements to the Spotify experience. If you can't download the software onto your device, you can't enjoy the music. If it's not available on related platforms where people listen to or share music, consumers can't get full enjoyment. And if you can't get the songs you love, what's the point? Someone had to work very hard to get Taylor Swift to make her music available.
These kinds of relationships are very different. A partnership with a hardware vendor like Samsung might have different terms and timing from a partnership with a record label or an application distributor like Apple. However, sometimes who owns what might not be clear enough. Companies like Apple aren't only application distribution platforms. They are hardware and software developers too. So, in this model, there is room for overlap among the BD team members and coordination will be critical.
Some companies treat business development like sales and give team members a particular region to explore in search of long-term strategic relationships of all types. This tends to be especially true in smaller markets with fewer businesses in the region. There just isn't enough critical mass to justify dividing the territory by business type or industry and someone who has been in the region for a while might have a broad set of contacts at most major companies. A third way of dividing responsibilities is by industry.
For example, if a hotel chain is looking for new partnerships, one busdev person might focus on partnerships with corporations while another might focus on innovative relationships with industrial kitchen equipment providers. Totally different backgrounds might be required for each. If a company is trying to serve a new industry and doesn't have the relationships or credibility already established, they might assign a business development team to develop relationships with key players in the industry ecosystem both to build an understanding of how things get done in the industry and to identify creative ways to establish first-of-their-kind deals for the company.
Sometimes the team is just one person, other times it's a group. There are two primary advantages to specialization, the ability to go deep and develop expertise in a particular part of the ecosystem and development of real trusted relationships which lead to revenue-generating opportunities and competitive advantages. So much of business development is about building lighthouse deals which establish a new blueprint for future opportunity. A lighthouse deal is a deal that stands as a model for other similar deals in the future and these similar deals might lay the groundwork for a whole new corporate division.
By allowing team members to specialize, companies create the potential for greater creativity in business model design.
Business development teams identify areas of opportunity: new products, new markets, new partnerships, and new distribution channels. It's critical to start with clear objectives. Are you using business development (BD) as a marketing tool, a sales channel, a source of innovation, or a corporate development hub? Management consultant Robbie Kellman Baxter shows you how the best BD professionals identify and build momentum for new initiatives. She also gives you the insight you need to launch a BD function in your organization, explains how to manage a BD team, and shares how to scale the BD function as your opportunities grow.
- What is business development?
- The lifecycle of a business development relationship
- Launching a business development function at your organization
- Managing teams and performance
- Career opportunities
- Making business development relevant to executives