Business Development · Sales

Business Development Manager vs Business Development Advisor - which avenue should we pursue?

Barbara Jones Founder/CEO at Lilllii RNB Inc

June 16th, 2015

We are a 2yr old Tech Startup in Atlanta, GA and we are at a point where we need help with strategically growing our business and have been told that we need a Business Development Manager? Of course, we have limited funds and have considered that maybe we need an advisor instead of hiring someone to fill this role.  Is there a preferred way to go at this early stage when funds are limited?

Chris Carruth VP/Director. Strategy | Business Development | Operations | Product | Solutions

June 16th, 2015

Disclaimer: I have engaged in this role many, many times so my comments are a bit biased toward what I have experienced as working.

First, Bus Dev has many shapes as defined by the employer/client using them. To some Bus Dev IS Sales, to some Bus Dev is pre-sales, to some Bus Dev is the hunter role while Sales is the gatherer role, to some Bus Dev is about finding strategic partners/channels so that the sales ramp can be compressed...and it goes on. I have seen it defined differently by industrial sector and even within companies in the same sector - no one size fits all.

So preferably first define the objective so your discussions are on point. You don't want to waste your time or the BD resource's time trying to find out where/how  the time spent will make the most impact. You should know where you are needing the help and focus like a laser on that area. A solid BD resource should be able to help in many ways but there should be a focus.

Secondly understand BD gurus, like Sales execs, have spent a long time, perhaps decades building not only the rolodex but the ability to find the right person to talk to,  in a way that creates an opening for your product or service.

Thirdly, most BD resources won't work for 100% commission as it places all the risk on their side of the table. There are always exceptions but I personally have not seen many, if any,.

However, BD resources may be open to a shared risk scenario with a startup, depending on what stage the business is in, what the product acceptance has been so far, sales trajectory rates, customer churn rates, close rates, etc. He/she is looking for some proof that taking some risk on their side is worth it.

In terms of getting someone on board, be creative in what you offer:

a) options

b) compensation accelerator's tied to results

c) ability to work from home

d) part-time so that he/she can continue to diversify their efforts; if a 100% of time is spent on your product and it fails the resource has to go back out and build business from scratch

e) potentially benefits

f) and last but not least to be involved with a cool sexy product that no one does like you do!

Ok, done..let me know if you need anything else..

Michael Brill Technology startup exec focused on AI-driven products

June 16th, 2015

Business Development Manager implies an operational role where someone is out pounding the pavement working on deals. Advisor implies someone telling you that you should go out and pound the pavement. 

Rob G

June 16th, 2015

Barbara; first you need to clearly define what you want to achieve and understand what it is you are looking for. Business development is business development, sales is sales and marketing is marketing - don't conflate the 3.  Your original post refers to "business development" and your 3rd post to "marketing or sales". Sorry to be blunt, but business development is not sales or marketing. If it is sales you need then don't hire either a business development manager or advisor - hire a sales person. Business development is about building strategic partnerships intended to drive indirect sales (typically on a long-term horizon) and is best done by experienced business development people (not marketing or sales people). For example, your biz dev person might go out and establish a relationship with Anderson Consulting who can help get you on the short list for a project at Ford (just an example). Marketing is about educating the market and providing supporting services/materials/content to help your sales team and biz dev team with messaging, branding, etc. and typically does not generate revenue directly and is best performed by experienced marketing people (not biz dev or sales people). Sales is about generating direct revenue - finding opportunities and closing sales with customers and is best performed by experienced sales people (not biz dev or marketing people). If it is sales (revenue) that you need then hire a sales person. To hire a sales person don't go looking for a "business development" manager or advisor or marketer. If it is marketing you need then hire a marketing person not a business development manager or advisor or sales person.

Devin Carlos Irizarry Voorsanger Partner/Head of Schools, JuntoBot

June 16th, 2015

Also Chip and Chris have some really good advice from the "hire a sales person" approach. I really like Chris's approach to compensation.

Chip Royce

June 16th, 2015

Agree with @michaelbrill; you need a team member with accountability for any direct  revenue / indirect benefits associated with these partnerships.
Folks have different definitions of Biz Dev; but in any case, if this is important to the growth of the company, you need to invest in it just as you would your sales & marketing team.
The solution for you might be a part-time biz dev resource. Until the company and deals are up and running, there's a good chance that you don't have enough work for a 40 hour week. With my firm, Flywheel Advisors, I work on hourly / retainer for some % of my week which is dedicated to the strategy and execution of the partner strategies we establish. The company gets a seasoned exec it otherwise couldn't afford, conserves cash for the company (vs. a full-time head) and ties my results / relationship to successful revenue generation.

John Seiffer Business Advisor to growing companies

June 16th, 2015

You need sales. Not a title. The problem seems to be you don't have a sales process. You need to develop a process and then execute. You may or may not benefit from consultants for the development. Hard to know more without details on who your customer is, how they describe what problem your product solves for them and their buying process.

Go for results not job titles. "We need someone to do XYZ or produce XYZ" rather than "We need someone with the title of ABC"

Patrick Malone Interim President & CEO at Blairsville Union County Chamber of Commerce

June 16th, 2015

Business Development Manager vs Business Development Advisor - which avenue should we pursue?Barbara, So how do you obtain business now?

Stephen Peck Chief financial Officer at Thompson Media Group

June 16th, 2015

I would first articualte your needs with your outside professional team....your accountant, lawyer and banker.
This is a very good way to leverage your reach to find someone who might be able to assist you.
An accountant, lawyer, banker each have multiple clients to review against your needs.
Good luck,

Kendra Nasiatka Founder and CEO at 99 CREATIVE

June 16th, 2015

I agree with Devon. This is the way I run my business as well. The only thing I would add is that you may want to purchase or the to have access to the right client leads. is IT specific and one of my former colleagues uses it, hes says it's amazing as far as getting the right leads and direct contact info to make that connection. 

Brent Hultman Business and Leadership Coach/Consultant at Pursuits Coaching and Wellness Network

June 16th, 2015

Limited funds should not be a significant problem for you unless your sales lead time/ sales cycle are long enough that you have to carry that sales producer for too long.  Anyone on your team who is specifically hired to bring revenue should be revenue positive head-count.  An adviser is an expense and there advice has to be implemented to create revenue.  Being clear on what their job responsibilities are is also important.  In the old days we had sales people.  It was pretty easy to figure out what they were supposed to do with their time.  If you identify selection criteria that helps you to identify what you need in this person and set attainable but challenging goals for them they should pay their own way.