The Importance of Hiring Business Development Specialists

Small companies that want to grow should consider hiring a qualified person as a business development specialist if they could already afford it. A business development specialist/manager is an employee who is in-charge of looking for new sources of revenue. This may be in the form of new customers, but it can also be in researching for new products/services, new markets or new partnerships that will improve sales and profitability.
Many people mistakenly think that a business development specialist is just a fancy title for a sales representative or manager. Indeed, in many companies, despite their title, many business development managers are in fact sales people. But there is qualitative difference between the two, although there are a lot of areas where they overlap. There is a focus on finding or developing new sources of revenue. To limit the function of a business development manager to sales would mean not grasping the complete essence of the position. While sales is critical, you would be losing potential opportunities if other possibilities of expanding revenue like new products or services are excluded.
It is a mistake to assume that only large companies need to have a position of business development specialist. In firms where there are no such posts, the function is often assumed by the president or the head of sales. However, in such cases, the function may not be given sufficient attention. There are two disadvantages to this set up. First is that the large number of urgent concerns of the company president or sales manager is likely to affect the business development work. Second, there is a strong tendency to exert all the effort on the routine tasks that bring the usual sales.
Nevertheless, there are strong arguments for the business owner to do the task if hiring is out of the question. The strong need to be innovative and the varied number of business skills needed is an almost perfect match to the skill set of entrepreneurs. In fact, the function is looked upon by some as a type of intrapreneurship. Intrapreneurship is the act of behaving like an entrepreneur while being an employee.
Hiring a qualified business development manager is very difficult, not only because of its importance but also because it demands so many qualities that are rarely found in a single individual. In the case of smaller firms, this is even more difficult because a competent business development manager rarely comes cheap. Coming up with a sufficient compensation package may be difficult and not feasible for many companies.
While requiring an applicant to be an MBA, it is not mandatory; what is more critical, especially if the one supervising is not knowledgeable of the function, is that the candidate has an extensive experience in that position in your particular industry.
Upon hiring a business development specialist, allot at least several weeks of getting to know your business so that he would have a better grasp of your firm’s capabilities and operations. This information is necessary if he is to be able to draw up plans that would be grounded in your situation. For example, he must know production capacity and current utilization so that he will know how much more sales can be supported.
Since the business development manager spans different functions, he must be careful to coordinate with the managers whose assistance he will need to carry out his job. Usually he does not have control over the resources that he needs, and it is also often others that are tasked for the implementation of his proposals. He will need excellent presentation skills to convince key persons within the company of the desirability of his proposals.
For those companies who cannot afford the services of a business development specialist, an option is to get a qualified business consultant that can fill some aspects of this role. This is not a complete solution as you must be able to implement the prescribed tasks. Normally, the necessary effort and foot work would fall on the president or the head of sales, as the case may be.
Companies cannot afford to be complacent. It has often been said that in business, those that are not growing are, in fact, dying. Since change is now more rapid than in the past, this is even more true today. The business development specialist is in the forefront of the never-ending search for new sources of income – progressive management must recognize the vital need for this position.

*Originally published by the Manila Bulletin. BB1, Wednesday, February 13, 2013. Written by Ruben Anlacan, Jr. (President, BusinessCoach, Inc.) All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of the copyright holders.