GrowthFit Interview series

Acing Business Development and Partnerships

Acing Business Development and Partnerships

Highlights of the talk-

  • The growing potential of digitization and business development
  • Working with various businesses, teams and cultures
  • Must-have qualities for a business development manager

Tell us about your journey so far.

I work mostly in business development. This stream is often identified with sales and rightly so, because it has a lot to do with sales and growing revenues for companies. But I think growing the business also touches many other different aspects of the companies, not only the sales, but growing the team, growing the product lineup, growing the partnerships, growing the markets they operate in, and sometimes you don't sell straight away. You just need to invest in the market. And that's also part of business development and identifying the opportunities on how to pivot or open new lines of businesses that the company can enter. So throughout my career, I've been mostly involved in one way or another with business development and developing ideas and projects for different types of companies.

I've been lucky enough to work in many different sectors from video games to luxury goods, to electronics, media and public reports to international conventions and marketplaces online and internet SEO. I’ve been involved with technological solutions for different types of businesses and websites. 

You need to establish the right relationships with the right people and look for common ground. Look for symbiotic relationships with your partners, clients, providers and employees. So I do believe that in the end, business development is building the right relationships and keeping them growing, keeping them healthy. 

I've gained experience in working in various industries including real commerce, selling telephones, switches and  loud speakers. It all comes down to finding how to serve and how to solve other people's problems and needs. Each client uses your services in a different way. 

According to you, what role has digitization played in business development?

Digitization has helped both buyers and merchants by simplifying all the processes involved. Now on the web, one can be very specific about his searches. For example, if you're looking for a car of a particular make like Mustang, you can expect to see good results provided that you enter the specific key terms. Also, ordering food digitally has more potential for businesses to personalize for the buyer. All these things if leveraged to the fullest brings great results for both consumers and businesses. 

Tell us about the companies you’re working with.

I've been working for different companies in many different sectors throughout the last 30, 35 years from video games to luxury goods. Some of the things were online, digital and also physical.

Today I'm consulting companies on how to best develop and grow their business, how to get a mortgage service installed on top of a port property portal, or how to get a auction for cars, where people can actually sell their car directly to a dealer through a proper open, transparent auction, or they can get evaluation of their home.

I work with companies like Signify Media and Portal Ventures and also with individual clients, doing market research trying to expand their businesses, connecting them with my network of clients.

Tell us about your experience working with various teams.

I was lucky enough to go through many different steps of company creations. I worked for multinationals, for family businesses, and startups. The important thing is that you create a strong company culture. You need to have great leaders and delegation. You have to create team leaders and team members who are very much knowledgeable about their role in the whole picture.

It’s great to have everyone aligned but conflicts are unavoidable. You can work them out by letting people show their frustration and get love from anybody else and understand what they don't like, and why this is happening, or who has screwed up. There’s nothing wrong with failures and frustrations. It's part of the process of learning. 

About Work Culture

You need a little bit of creating your own culture and acquiring ideas from other companies, whether it be as an acquisition or as a joint venture or as an investment. We had investments from different companies from different individuals that input their knowledge and their good thinking to the company. And also one learns to identify when the current leaders are ready to step down and leave the space for somebody else. These stages that companies go through, are ideal for different types of leadership and different types of knowledge and experience. So you also have to identify knowing when to let go and knowing when to get somebody else on board. 

What are the qualities you look for while hiring a candidate for business development ?

On hiring somebody for business development, or for anything for that matter, here are two basic points or two basic conditions you have to fill. 

•    Firstly, you need to have the skills, the necessary level of preparation and experience to accomplish the job. So you need to make a very good job description in describing the day to day activity of what this person is gonna be asked to do and what are the results that you expect from him or her, and how you gonna measure. How you're gonna measure them and how you're going to read them, what's gonna be the compensation, is it gonna be tagged to a certain performance- so that they understand very well what they're getting into and what they're expected to do, and what is the reward for it. 

•    Also, you need to give actual tests on their skills that show their capabilities either from their past experience or from the current space, you can throw role plays and use cases.

•    Secondly, a factor that I think is the key is understanding that person, regardless of how excellent his skills are and how great his education and past experience is how that person can fit into the organization.

 •    If you're hiring a very new person that used to be a COO or Head of sales to be an account manager you better have a fast and clear career path for that person and a stock option program so it does not get frustrated or if you hire a junior person to deal with a hundred million dollar accounts, you better make sure that the person is gonna grow and learn very fast and it has what it takes to handle it. 

• It is a two way mutual selection process. I tend to give candidates a lot of information about what we do, how we do it, how it is day to day, who is in the team, so they understand if they fit or not in that scenario.

Qualities needed for a good business development role are being outspoken, very communicative, very open, malleable and flexible. You need to be able to work in different environments. You need to be able to adapt to different environments, not only inside the company, but also working with different markets, different cultural backgrounds, different ways of doing businesses, be very independent and autonomous, capable of doing things on your own. You need to have a lot of initiative. And at the same time, be able to deal with frustration and rejection. You also need to learn to deal with failure and not take it personally because a lot of your initiatives and a lot of your tries are gonna be rejected.