Productivity

A Complete Guide to Business Development Process Flow

Learn how to understand and build a business development process flow that nurtures leads and streamlines efforts. Here's your ultimate guide.

Introduction

Despite your best efforts, you need more leads to hit your revenue goals. Your bottom line takes a hit and so does the growth rate. What's slowing the needle for your business? The lack of a well-structured business development (BD) strategy and team.

A dedicated BD team generates high-value leads that support your business growth over the long term. 

With a well-thought-out business development process flow, you can reach more prospects, qualify leads at scale, create compelling offers and maintain long-term relationships.

In this article, we’ll dive deep into the process of business development and give you a step-by-step guide to creating a well-rounded business development strategy. Let’s get to it!

What is business development?

Business development creates growth and expansion opportunities for a business by developing strategic partnerships. Think of it as the spark plug that ignites the combustion engine running your company. 

A business development function designs and implements revenue-generating strategies in collaboration with the sales and marketing teams to boost a company’s bottom line.

Put simply, business development primarily involves:

  • Finding opportunities in a specific market.
  • Creating long-term value for the business.
  • Maintaining lucrative stakeholder relationships.

That said, it's important to note that the role of business development looks different in every organization. It can easily merge with the sales and marketing functions within a company. So, let's look at how business development stack up against sales and marketing.  

Business development vs. sales 

The business development process flow includes lead nurturing, but it doesn't involve closing deals—a sales team function. A BD representative prospects and qualifies a lead, whereas a sales executive converts the lead. BDRs also take care of the post-sale experience, building long-term customer relationships.

Factors Sales Business Development
Focus Immediate sales Future prospects
Timeline Day-to-day practices Long-term impact
Operation Deliver as soon as possible Develop solutions for future

Business development vs. marketing

While business development involves transactional activities, marketing focuses on nudging the target buyers down the sales funnel. A marketing team warms prospective buyers to create a need for your product or service. Business development consultants convert this need into deals, bringing new sales through the right channels. 

Factors Marketing Business Development
Prime objective Differentiates the brand Builds connection
Timeline Day-to-day revenue creation Long-term plan
Focus Current products and results Future developments and improvements

A look into the ideal business development process flow

The business development process flow is a strategic step-by-step process starting from market research and prospecting to closing the deal and finalizing the paperwork. Let's break down each of these steps. 

business development process flow chart - starting with prospecting, lead qualification, creating an offer, lead nurturing, paperwork

Step 1: Prospecting to find new leads 

In simple terms, prospecting refers to finding new business opportunities. But at a granular level, it includes:

  • Knowing the product/service.
  • Conducting market research.
  • Identifying your competitive advantage.
  • Conducting a cost analysis from the buyers’ perspective.
  • Analyzing the target market size and its potential.

This step also includes a collaborative effort between the business development and marketing teams to expand your brand’s visibility. 

Once the marketing team has set the ground, business development ideas—like networking, sales demos and market segment analysis—come into practice.

Step 2: Qualifying leads to identify the ideal prospects

Prospecting will help you get leads in huge numbers. But there’s no way of knowing if these leads will convert. 

Lead qualification is when reps decide whether a prospective lead meets the characteristics of your ideal customer profile—in terms of pain points, budgets, time and other factors. 

To qualify these leads for the next steps of the buying process, you should:

  • Study their profile.
  • Discuss their decision-making process.
  • Compare your offering versus your competitors.
  • Assess their needs against the solutions you’re offering.
(Source)

Qualifying leads minimizes the time BD reps might waste on chasing prospects that don’t have the financial authority or functional needs for your product/service. It’s simply about separating the wheat from the chaff. 

Step 3: Create an offer

The essence of a strong business development strategy lies in creating a high-converting offer your leads can’t refuse. This is where you need to highlight the main value propositions every lead can resonate with.

Here are a few tried-and-true tips for creating an irresistible offer:

  • Carefully analyze all the information you’ve collected about a prospect.
  • Fully understand their needs and pain points that you can solve.
  • Create a solid proposal with the right words. 

Remember not to oversell your product/service in this offer. Be completely transparent to start a potential relationship on the right note. 

Step 4: Lead nurturing

All of your leads might not convert right after seeing an offer. About 96 percent of your website visitors may not be ready to make a purchase yet. 

Enter—lead nurturing.

It’s the process of nudging leads to the next step in the buying process by building healthy relationships before the deal goes through. Nurturing leads is about winning their trust without hard selling. Here’s how:

  • Provide free advice and consultations.
  • Align your sales and marketing functions.
  • Automate business processes to identify, categorize and target buyers.

You'd be surprised it takes around eight touches on average to convert a lead. So, include multiple approaches and touch points in your business development process flow to convert leads consistently. 

Step 5: Paperwork 

Once you close the deal, the final step is finishing the paperwork. Create a comprehensive sales close plan entailing all the clauses (and more) to ensure you and your clients are on the same page. It can include:

  • Cover page.
  • Contact details.
  • Package inclusions.
  • Payment terms.

Training BDRs for your business development process

Training and documentation is the most critical link in the chain if you're building a dream team for the BD function within your company. You need end-to-end process documentation to help BDRs and team leads create repeatable success. 

This is where Scribe can do the heavy lifting on your behalf. 

The documentation tool is designed for busy BD teams looking to create SOPs, stepwise guides and other resources quickly and conveniently. It's the perfect tool to keep all crucial information in one place—for example, this guide on using LinkedIn Sales Navigator

How to create your business development strategy: a 6-step guide

Without a detailed business development process, your reps will be left to take their own route with every lead. 

Create a full-fledged business development strategy to set your BD team up for long-term success and align their efforts with the sales and marketing teams. Here's a 6-step guide to follow:

1. Be crystal clear about your audience

Start with defining your target audience. Sounds like a no-brainer, right? But there’s a lot more to it. Narrow down and create a framework that includes the types of buyers, age, gender, income and preferences, among other factors. 

Be as specific as possible because clearly defining your target audience will give you a better understanding of how you can reach them.

2. Understand the market & competition

Once you’re clear about your target audience, conducting a deep market analysis is the next step. Evaluate the market to determine where you stand. How, you may wonder?

Try to learn about your target customers’ needs and how you can fulfill them better than your competitors. 

Here’s how Google did it. In 2002, when AOL (America Online) was almost synonymous with the internet, Google closed the deal and won the competitive gain. How did they do it?

The tech giant built a relationship with AOL and beat its biggest competitor – Overture. This gave Google a competitive advantage for years to come.

3. Set goals & metrics to guide the team

Set clear, specific goals to ensure your team is always on the right track. Make these results measurable, time-bound and attainable so you can continuously monitor your team's progress. Goals are the key to unlocking business process optimization that reduces errors and enhances efficiency.

4. Create a realistic budget for the strategy

No matter how strong your strategy is, it can fall flat without a budget. Create a realistic budget to get all the resources required to hit all targets. That said, don’t keep yourself from pushing the budget a little. If your plan works out, you’ll be able to recover all of it.

5. Build systematic workflows for efficiency 

The business development process is a rather complicated one—a BDR would know that best. With so many moving parts in the process, it’s best to create a systematic workflow to implement your business development strategy. 

This workflow will also let your BD, sales and marketing teams function collaboratively throughout the implementation process.

business development process flow chart
(Source)

Here are a few handy tools to build an airtight business development process:

  • Kissflow Process: It’s a no-code tool that helps organizations automate repetitive business processes and create workflows in tandem with stakeholders.
  • Zoho Creator: A non-technical person’s playhouse, Zoho Creator is a low-code app development platform for designing, developing and running business software.
  • Scribe: Every BDR’s haven, Scribe is a process documentation tool that lets you record a process and convert it into a step-by-step guide in a few seconds.

6. Document your strategy & processes 

Creating an action plan is just the first step. You also need to document the entire plan to monitor the progress of your business development strategy and keep a close track of your team’s performance.

While documentation might seem like an unnecessary extra step to some, a documentation tool like Scribe can make it look effortless. It’s 15x faster than manual documentation, super convenient to use and easily accessible across devices—it can’t get any better than this!

Boost your bottom line with a strong business development program

The role of business development starts with identifying and reaching out to potential leads and (never) ends with building a lasting relationship with customers. 

A strong business development program is a non-negotiable aspect of running a business successfully. Use this start-to-finish to create a solid BD strategy and train your team to boost revenue while nurturing strong relationships with your prospects.

While at it, remember to optimize the business development process flow using tools like Scribe to ensure you achieve your goals as efficiently as possible!