Some of the most successful CEOs are great at business development, they're deal-makers at heart, and yet CEOs can't do all the deal making alone. Business development professionals can be like the CEO's mini-mes, helping to flesh out those loosely defined ideas generated by the CEOs. They can also identify new opportunities that will accelerate growth, profitability, and the achievement of the larger vision. Wherever you sit in the organization, it's important to understand how you fit into the big picture.Knowing how others see your value helps you both to be more valuable and to be able to make your case for more resources or even a promotion.
Business development is no exception. If you want to make an impact on your company,be well-regarded by your peers and get the resources you deserve to build new, long-term business opportunities, you'll need to think like a CEO. What does the CEO want?Well, most importantly, they want confidence that the business is growing profitably, and that the business has potential for more growth. You need to be able to demonstrate,with supporting data, that you have found and are building opportunities that are profitable now as well as placing exciting bets for the future, bets with great odds.
You also need to tie your successes to your plans for future wins. In business development, it's always about what's next and you have to know what your next objective is. What it will take to be successful and how you plan to make it happen. Let's say you do a little networking and digging, and find that your company can make a huge impact in the car space. You want to build relationships with every major car manufacturer globally, but you can't do it by yourself.
You need to be able to demonstrate first, that you have been successful with at least one car company, second, that other car companies would all be likely to be interested in joining as well, and third, that with the right budget and team, you can sign up many more of them and quickly. One of the challenges many business development professionals face is that they're best in the moment, coming up with ideas and working deals, they might not focus as much on quantifying their results.
For many in business development, it's all about building, not measuring, but to prove your value, you have to be able to demonstrate specifically what you've accomplished.What relationships have you forged? What interesting ideas are you working on? What's the next really big thing? How big is it? And how are you going to make sure your company is well-positioned to get a piece of the action? Today's investments have to sustain the company into tomorrow.
Beyond these well-placed investments in the future, CEOs want stories that bring the opportunities to life. They need new and provocative ideas and insights for meetings with journalists, investors, and shareholders. Many believe that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's acquisition of Instagram in 2012 laid the groundwork for his ability to win acquisitions of texting solution WhatsApp and artificial intelligence leader Oculus. His vision and ability to think well beyond the company's original business has been a key tool in Facebook's rapid growth and ability to attract some of the world's best talent.
You have the opportunity to provide inspiration to the leadership team. Remember, they spend most of their time either fighting today's fires or pitching others with their vision.You can be the one to help them develop their big picture of forever. To do that, it's not enough to just hit your key performance indicators, the number of deals you're working on, the number of contracts you've inked, the revenue generated by your ideas, you have to have the stories, too.
Robbie Kellman Baxter is the founder of Peninsula Strategies LLC, author of The Membership Economy, and and a LinkedIn Learning course author.
Her clients have included large organizations like Netflix, SurveyMonkey, and the National Restaurant Association, as well as smaller venture-backed start-ups. Over the course of her career, Robbie has worked in or consulted with clients in more than 20 industries.
As a public speaker, Robbie has presented to thousands of people in corporations, associations, and universities. She has an AB from Harvard College and an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Find Robbie on Twitter, @robbiebax.
People have been reaching out to Robbie after viewing her new Lynda/LinkedIn Learning courses on Customer Success, Create a Membership-Based Business and Develop a Service Orientation asking me how she works with companies. Contact her at Rbaxter@peninsulastrategies.com to set up a complimentary call.
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