What is “Biz Dev” Anyway?

One of my favorite articles from this past year was this one by Christopher Steiner of Forbes: Biz Dev is a Clever Name For Dirty Work in which he perfectly dissects the realities of being a business development professional.

Many young people looking to get into business gravitate toward “Biz Dev”.  In conversations with such people, it is common to hear phrases like “I am really good with people” or “I can sell anything”. If you say that in conversation, then neither of those statements are likely true.  Customers don’t buy from a company because you are good with people, customers make purchases because you (or your company) provides value.  

Biz Dev, as Mr. Steiner explains in his article, is nothing like the dramatized wheeling and deeling we all wish it was.  Biz dev is dirty work.  It is a process of continually trying to gain new customers, identifying the successes, and trying endlessly to recreate those successes.

The idea that business is a series of deals waiting to happen, only to make you richer and richer in the mean-time, is a lie I told myself before I understood how to provide value.  The reality is that providing value to customers is tough, and it takes a lot of time, but it is incredibly rewarding both emotionally and financially when you have a customer that genuinely appreciates the things you do for them. But before you spend too much time reminiscing about your fuzzy relationship, it is time to get up and go find another customer to keep the revenue going.

Cold calls, hand-written notes, strategizing, growth hacking, all of these are vital parts to biz dev.  It isn’t sexy, it is sometimes ornery, and it is always exhausting, but every so often you will catch a bright spot and that it what makes it all worth while.