Do Any Manufacturers Value True Business Development?

I'm sure many of you have noticed the trend to rename sales reps as "Business Development Managers". The job hasn't changed, just the title. It's a ploy to distance the sales teams from the slimy sales reputation. This has created a huge problem for those of us who can create value for our companies by being actual Biz Dev, and creates an even more dire situation for manufacturers who can't figure out why they have hit a plateau.

So, question is, are there any manufacturers out there that have an honest-to-goodness BD team?

Definitions:

Sales: ABC (Always Be Closing)

BD: ABO (Always Be Opening)

Sales cares about the month and the quarter. They grind it out, and bring in the POs. They carry quotas, and make numbers. BD sets direction into new areas, and is working to make sure sales has new places to attack in 18 or 24 or 36 months. They are paid on achievement of objectives. They are drawing maps into uncharted areas that allows a skilled sales team to get in and start killing it quickly.

Related posts: What is the difference between BD and Sales? and Business Development vs Sales


1, good topic.

And if you really want to magically improve the reputation of your sales people call them 'consultants' :)

That said, I also notice an increase in BD titles but not sure how many are doing pure BD.

Btw, can you explain more about achievement of objectives vs sales? What type of objectives would be typical for a BD role?

Let's say you work for a camera manufacturer, and you want to move in to a new vertical. You would want to set up an objective chain.

1. Determine what problems you can solve.

2. Find partners to help you create a solution and set up the relationships.

3. Create the solution.

4. Pilot, and fix your solution as needed.

5. Teach the sales team how to sell your solution.

6. Find the next uncharted area.

These steps are often happening at the same time, and this is just an example of one piece, and steps 1-6 might take quite a while.

IMO, there are some manufacturers that have bona-fide business development people, but the majority do not.

This is not too surprising, the security industry has been around for a long time, the products are well understood, the markets/channels are well understood, and there has not been a lot of truly revolutionary development that would open up the kinds of new markets required for a true bizdev role.

Actual bizdev people in security tend to be looking at how to take an existing product and sell it to an entirely new customer base, or through an entirely new channel. An example would be taking an access control platform that uses IP and coming up with a way to host the server in the cloud and enable a company to sell or create a hosted access control service with that platform. Ideally that company would also be someone who wouldn't have otherwise been thinking about selling security services, like a cable company or a building management firm.

Another example would be promoting use of a security oriented product outside of the security market. For example using an analytics device to count people in an area to give feedback to an HVAC system so that it can better anticipate heating and cooling loads. This is done today with basic PIR-style occupancy sensors that can tell when a room is occupied, but can't determine by how many people. Approaching a company like Carrier with this idea, working out the logistics and financials of making it work and figuring out projected quantities, and whose logo will be on the product is more along the lines of bizdev instead of sales.

For most manufacturers, people with BizDev titles are more often "national account managers" or "vertical specialists", but they deal with customers that are already familiar with security products, and already plan to buy something. These customers just have a longer sales cycle and may need more hand-holding than a "traditional" customer.

Great topic, great question. We have a few "BD's" who come visit us that don't do much other than hand out spec sheets, take orders and walk away.

Our DMP rep regularly trains our technicians and offers sales training for sales people, customer service...etc. In this way, he's a BD because he is helping our team be more prepared to open doors ourselves. He also does his own thing to strengthen the DMP name in his region. Maybe he's more of a hybrid Sales/BD.

I've been on all sides of this issue. From my experience, the margins are too thin and the competition is too thick to spend money for positions which are only for brand development. Pelco was an exception at one time, but they still ended up having to find a way to measure the success and justifying the expense for this type of person by attaching a sales goal or quota to them.

We are not a big enough industry to have dedicated people running around and promoting their brand. The market of potential clients is already known and if you have the means, a direct marketing campaign (industry publications/email lists/trade shows) is really the only true brand development strategies most anyone can afford and the only thing that makes sense.

Obviously, there are exceptions, but most of the industry is scrapping along with small margins and very small marketing budgets. So...long winded answer is there is no difference between the two roles. BDM and regional sales in in our industry are the same position.

So...long winded answer is there is no difference between the two roles. BDM and regional sales in in our industry are the same position.

Very true. Any difference is very slight.