Diversification Strategy: How to Diversify into New Industries and Markets

A 2015 Forbes article suggests ‘Diversification is about building new products, exploring new markets, and taking new risks.’

I think diversification could be a subset of this definition. For instance, you might take a product or service that you already offer to a particular market and looking at other markets where you can offer it.

Most of the work I’ve done on diversification has been with oil and gas companies that see an opportunity to provide an existing product into a new industry. A lot of the time, the product doesn’t need extensive modification.

However, companies must ensure that they have done market research into the industry, sector or country before launching into a new market. This is just one of the considerations for a diversification strategy. In this blog, I will discuss diversification strategies and the key considerations for companies who seek to grow their business in this way.

Why consider diversification strategy?

There are several reasons why a company might consider diversification. You could consider diversification if:

  • You want to grow your business
  • You see an opportunity or gap in another industry
  • You are exploring ways to maintain a level of stability and security for your business

The recent downturn in the oil and gas industry led to many companies diversifying. It is a good way to de-risk your business by not putting all your eggs in one basket.

What must you consider before you diversify?

One of the first steps in planning diversification is to understand the market that you want to enter. Like I mentioned in the introduction of this blog, market research is crucial so that you thoroughly understand the idiosyncrasies in the new market that you’re entering.

Another area to consider is the resources that you will need to successfully enter a new market. When I say, “Resources”, I mean time, personnel and investment.  You have to ask yourself where the market pull is coming from and how long it will take to get traction.

In the end, it boils down to research. Research about your market and research into your own capabilities as a company.

How can you get help with market research?

Because market research is an area that many companies are under-resourced to do well or at all, I’ll briefly highlight how you can get help with it.

Scotland’s enterprise agencies are a fantastic source of research support. Such agencies include SDI (Scottish Development International), DIT (Department of International Trade) if you are in England & Wales and Scottish Enterprise. Also, ONE (Opportunity North East) is a private sector-led and funded to support growth in the North East of Scotland.

As part of your research, talk to potential customers in the industry that you want to serve. Speak to significant industry bodies within the industry. For instance, if you are looking to diversify into the offshore renewable sector, talk to ORE Catapult, a leading innovation and research centre for the industry.

How will you resource diversification?

Let’s say that you do market research and there’s, in fact, an opportunity to launch your product or service into a new market. The next thing to consider is how you will resource the implementation of your plan.

If it is a manufactured product, you will need to think about where you will manufacture the product i.e. in-country or export into the new market.

This is important, particularly when you have local content laws to adhere to. For instance, how do you ensure the quality of your product stays as it should if you need to manufacture in a different location?

You can get support from Scottish Enterprise through its Manager for Hire programme. Scottish Enterprise is able to fund a percentage of the salary of a manager if you are expanding or exporting your products and services. Here is an example of how Scottish Enterprise supported Jas P Wilson during its expansion.



What do you need for different types of diversification?

The Ansoff Matrix shows four different ways to grow a business. They are market penetration, market development, product development and diversification. For the purpose of this blog, I use diversification loosely, describing market development and product development (along with diversification strategy) as potential ways a company might diversify its business.



It is often true that to get to the bottom right side of this matrix from the top left, you need to move across or down. Incremental improvements to your product might be enough to keep up with your market but staying in the top left too long could mean that you’re stagnating. I’ll highlight a few things to keep in my mind for each type of diversification in addition to what I’ve mentioned already.

Existing Product, New Market

Your marketing efforts need to be strong when ente**ring a market that is not familiar with your company or brand. Ensure your message is clear and relevant to the new market. This might require amendments to the existing messaging on your website, brochure and other marketing collateral.

Use case studies and testimonials to build your credibility. You are likely to be stretched for resources (e.g personnel and budget) to launch in a new market so consider how you will resolve this.

New Product, Existing Market

Product development requires a sound feasibility study and business case. With an existing market, you have access to a network of people who already know you and use your other products.

Use your existing customers to get feedback about your plans for a new product. Also, engage oil and gas operators early on to get an understanding of whether your new product addresses burning issues in the industry. Oil and gas servicing companies often won’t take on new technology if there is little buy-in from operators (their customers).

New Product, New Market

In addition to the above points, when established companies diversify into new markets with a new product, it takes a lot of research and marketing effort from the onset.

Consider having a separate brand for your products. For instance, a Well Co. might have five products with their own branding. This allows the company to drive several products into the market that can stand alone.

In Summary

Diversification is an option for companies looking to grow or to create more security for the long-term. There are different ways to diversify as enumerated in this blog. It’s OK to take incremental steps towards diversification if that’s your current capability.

Don’t underestimate how long it takes to successfully diversify. Consider timeline and resources from the outset. It’s realistic to expect it to take at least 18-24 months.

Develop a solid strategy and keep focused on what you want to achieve. Avoid pushing into too many markets at the same time. Access the support available through enterprise agencies in the UK. There are many ways to get more resources to get diversification right!

If you’d like to have an informal chat about your business and opportunities to grow or create stability through diversification, let me know.

Why You Should Align Business Development Efforts with Your Exit Strategy

Over 600,000 companies launch in the UK every year. This is an incredible number of businesses, many of which will develop a business plan at some point. But few of these businesses will plan for their exit.

Whether you want to build a company that takes over the world or you want a lifestyle business that gives you flexibility and a decent living, you should consider your exit strategy as part of your business development efforts.

In this blog, I explain the importance of outlining your exit strategy to enhance your business development plans.

Think about an exit strategy early on

Starting a business involves planning for the future. Business planning includes target markets, product development and financial forecasts. Many start-ups leave out plans for their exit, that is, how they will end their business.

But creating an exit strategy from the start can help you align your business development strategy, as it helps to provide a clear goal for your business. Setting your exit strategy in the early days will create a solid foundation and a clear sense of direction to work towards.

Align your exit strategy and business development plan

I compare not having an exit strategy to not having a will. You usually wouldn’t wait until ill health to write a will. In the same way, an exit strategy for your business is an important consideration to make from the outset. Don’t wait until your business is in bad shape or your personal circumstances change before thinking about your exit.

You are better off planning ahead to ensure you have a smooth transition out of your business. Thinking about the end from the start is important for me as a Business Development professional. I like to know my clients’ end goals. This allows me to develop a business development plan that gets them to where they need to be within a specified timeframe.

Why an exit strategy enhances your business development efforts

Example of a “sale” exit strategy

Let’s say a client tells me that they are launching a new technology company with a 5-year exit strategy to sell. This information allows me to build a plan to address vital criteria that a potential buyer will require during a sale.

Such criteria might include a strong company brand, a credible management team, business management systems, market research from existing and prospective customers, a strong sales process, healthy cash flow, framework agreements and so on.

Example of a “cash out” exit strategy

Alternatively, say a client tells me that they want help with a lifestyle business, which they will eventually dissolve. This means the client is likely to take out the cash from their business.

Therefore,  it is key to drive sales and marketing from the outset with the aim of maximising revenues from the business. All business development efforts will closely align with marketing to ensure a healthy sales pipeline and sales processes to effectively manage new and existing customers.

Summing it up

No matter how much a business owner loves what they do, exiting their business should always be an option. If the founder ever decides to merge or sell the company, an exit strategy allows them to leave the business in a profitable state. This is very important when a business is established.

For instance, any staff could be negatively impacted if the owner does not have a plan in place in the event that the business is sold. Having an exit strategy is a key part of business planning. It is a simple process that documents your plans for the future. Be proactive about this part of business planning.

When you’ve done this, you can get back to the fun stuff: Running and growing your business!

The Value of Mentoring for Startups

Mentors are people who guide you through a time of change, transition or gradual improvement.

I am fortunate to have had some great mentors during my career so far, particularly during career transitions. You may know that I moved from nursing into business development. My mentors through that time of change significantly impacted who I am today.

In this blog, I discuss what I have come to believe: Mentors can add a new dimension for startups, aiding vision, clarity and growth.

My First Mentor

I will specifically talk about Laura, my first boss after a career in nursing. Her mentoring moulded my career in business.

Laura helped me to recognise the transferable skills I had gained in nursing. The opportunities she gave me built my confidence in networking at senior levels and strengthened my understanding of what it takes to run a business. I developed an appreciation for the challenges and considerations of turning a business around, and driving growth.

I had a good grounding to go to my next role and a few years later, I started my own business.

Main Challenges for Startups

Startups have several challenges; the unknown world of customers, competitors, product-market fit, investors, partners, the list goes on.

In NE Scotland, startups survival rate is 61.2%, the highest in the UK. London has the lowest survival rate after three years at 50.1%. Startups have a lot to contend with, given that they have a 50%-60% survival rate! Therefore, a good mentor can guide startups and their founders in the following areas:

  • Deciphering what they want to achieve and how to get there
  • Developing commercial knowledge to build a sustainable, growing business
  • Ensuring the seemingly boring but important stuff is in place e.g. T&C’s, accounting, contracts
  • Building a strong and trusted network as a continuous source of support and guidance

This is not an exhaustive list, as startups have a variety of challenges depending on their experience, industry and goals. The above is a good place to start with mentoring. Getting these right makes a big difference.

Mentoring Accelerates Growth

One of the fastest ways to learn is to learn from other people’s mistakes. If you have ambitious growth plans for your business, you could benefit from a mentor who has successfully launched products in the market and developed a strong brand.

Such a mentor is invaluable in offering advice on cash flow, market entry strategies, product launches, customer acquisition and retention.

The Value of Mentoring for Startups

Qualities of a Startup Mentor

I’ve mentioned some of the benefits of a mentor. But you need to have a mentor with the relevant experience and a willingness to give guidance. A mentor should ideally be someone who has run their own business, been on the board of a successful business and/or has a background in advising and mentoring companies in the growth phase.

While the experience of a mentor is important, it is equally important that the person doesn’t focus on creating a mirror image of their own experiences when providing guidance. Learning from their mistakes and actively listening to their mentee are key qualities of a good mentor.

Getting a Good Mentor

Telling you about the value of a mentor is one thing. But how do you get a mentor? Many people are mentored by a former boss, former colleague or business associate.

If these are not options for you, fortunately, Aberdeen has a host of mentoring support opportunities. These include the Aberdeen Young Professionals Mentoring Scheme run by Ross Jolly, AXIS Network chaired by Jenny Junnier and Ideas in Partnerships, run by Carolyn Maniukiewicz. If you engage with Elevator UK, you could also get a mentor as part of its Accelerator Programme, which runs a few times every year.

The essence of a mentor is to motivate and inspire. Sometimes the best way is to find someone who inspires you and who has achieved things which you aspire to. Then learn as much as you can from them.

Other Support in Aberdeen & Scotland

I have already mentioned Elevator UK. Business Gateway is also a good first port of call whether you are a startup or an established business looking for support. The courses and resources provided by Business Gateway support the growth and management of new and existing companies.

If you are looking to export your products and/or services, Scottish Development International (SDI) provide advice, support and introductions to international markets.

Remember to keep building your support network. Be open-minded as you never know what you will learn.

If you do these things in addition to working with a good mentor, you will add great value to your journey as a startup and perhaps you will give back one day as a brilliant mentor yourself!

Business Development & Sales – What is the Difference?

Many people in my network have asked me “What’s the difference between business development and sales?” It’s a great question and one that I will answer, to the best of my ability, in today’s blog.

I understand the source of the questions; many sales and business development professionals have similar job descriptions. The roles appear interchangeable in some organisations, and it can be unclear who is responsible for what.

In my opinion, this stems primarily from a shift in job titles of salespeople to ‘business development’. This has mainly been done in an effort to overcome negative connotations that surround the word ‘sales’ and bring down some of the barriers. But, in reality, it has just created a lot of confusion!

However, I want to take your attention away from the actual job title for a few minutes and focus on the responsibilities of the role.

Core Skills of Sales and BD

In general, sales roles are target or bonus-focused, with a requirement for strong negotiation skills. Business development, on the other hand, is about developing relationships with clients and partners alike, and takes a much longer-term view.

Both BD and sales roles need presentation skills and interpersonal skills. However, there are certain skills that are unique to each role.

Skills for Sales

A sales professional needs to be comfortable with hunting and knocking on doors to gain new customers. If I was to rank the top 3 characteristics/skills of a salesperson, it would be:

  1. Hunting Instinct, the person needs to be great at going after prospects. It could be through cold calling, emailing or whatever means.
  2. Competitive Spirit, this is what drives a sales professional to succeed – the motivation to be the best at what they do and hit that target is often on them.
  3. Negotiation Pro, they are usually skilled at driving conversations that lead to win-win decisions and ultimately closing the deal.

Not all professionals embody all of the characteristics above. For instance, they might not be fiercely competitive, but they do well in sales nonetheless. These non-typical sales professionals are likely to make great business developers.

Skills for Business Development

Business development professionals can adapt to their environment and use different skills to achieve great results in their role. The top 3 skills for business development professionals are:

  1. Relationship Building, this is the key capability that business developers need in order to create long-term relationships and partnerships that lead to business growth.
  2. Creative Thinking, speaking of business growth, simply building relationships is not enough. Business developers must be able to find ways to leverage the relationships so that it creates a competitive advantage for the organisation.
  3. Adaptable Style, things change in organisations and in industry. A business developer can’t be easily fazed and must be able to adapt to new situations.

Goals for Sales and BD

Sales are usually focused on hitting targets and getting that bonus at the end of a job well done. For business development, it is usually about seeing the organisation succeed in the longer term.

Therefore, it is important that an organisation carefully considers which role they require to meet their business goals. If the organisation focuses on monthly or quarterly sales and not on longer-term strategic growth, then it’s probably a job for sales. A business developer is likely to get frustrated with a short-term focus.

Business Development & Sales – What is the Difference (Quote Image)

Impact of Industry on Sales and BD

Some industries have longer sales cycles that require a series of engagements that ultimately, lead the customer to make a purchase. Longer sales cycles might require a business development approach, however, when it comes time to closing the deal, certain skills, like negotiation, will be crucial.

The Oil & Gas industry, for instance, often operated on shorter, more transactional cycles before the downturn in 2014. Many sales professionals simply had to pick up customer calls and take orders. But things changed, and the industry’s suppliers required a more proactive approach to generating business. It has been a difficult transition, understandably.

Longer sales cycles could become the norm, and sales and business development professionals need to take more proactive approaches to achieve their goals – whatever those might be.

Deciding between BD and Sales

Business development and sales often work well together, but not many companies have both. SMEs often can’t afford to have the two roles, even though I believe an organisation needs both skillsets.

Here are some questions to ask when deciding whether to hire a business development professional or a sales professional:

  • What are you looking to achieve with this role? If you are replacing someone who has left, are you re-assessing the skills you actually need? Are there any lessons you can learn from the previous individual’s performance?
  • Is the main focus on sales targets or where the next win is coming from? Or is it more about the overall strategic development and growth?
  • How are you looking to manage the new recruit? Will their performance be judged on sales figures or more general KPI’s?
  • Do you require someone that is technical or non-technical?

For instance, I am non-technical. But my clients are willing to come in and support from a technical perspective. I just need to know enough of the ‘technical speak’ to get the interest in the first place and open the door for my client.

You need to map out your organisation to identify existing resources and gaps. If you have mainly technical people, it might be a good idea to bring in a resource that is non-technical.

On a side note, technical companies tend to go for a salesperson who is technical. This tendency isn’t as common with BD roles.

Another consideration is the overall business strategy. If the business is about to enter a new market or launch a brand-new product, it is likely that, to begin with, the company needs a business developer. Marketing will also take a leading role here.

Consequences for Businesses

If you bring the wrong type of skills into your business, you will waste time and money. The business will also not achieve its goals, and there could be ill-feeling amongst the team, as well as the person who has come into the company to do a job.

It could be damaging to a person’s confidence, especially if he/she believes that the expectations of the role were unrealistic and didn’t play to their strengths. Businesses need to be mindful of potential reputational fall-out in cases where these issues are not properly managed.

If you need to take your business forward but you are unsure of which skills you need in your organisation, get in touch to find out how I can help.  I have a number of trusted associates (both in BD and Sales) that I call upon depending on what that need may be.


How Business Development and Marketing Can Work Together

This is a guest blog written by Yekemi Otaru of YO! Marketing.

I’ve been called many things in my 13-year career, including Technical Sales Engineer, Business Development Executive and Marketing Manager. I suppose there are worse things to be called.

Each role felt the same at times; the same purpose dressed up in a buzzword job title. Now that I run my own marketing consultancy, I get to work with talented business development professionals. It is clear to me that marketing and business development are different but must work together to achieve business goals. How can these roles work together to achieve business growth for their organisation or client?

When some people think about marketing, they imagine brochures, logos, matching colour schemes and perhaps promotional goods and beautiful websites. This is all important for supporting a business. However, marketing goes much further than that. I’ll come to how in a moment.

Business Development and Marketing in Sync

Let’s first examine the role of business development (BD). BD is about working at the front line of client relationships. The main aim of the role is to cultivate relationships for the long-term, creating sustainable business growth.

That’s how I see it. Coming back to the essence of marketing, I’d argue that’s my aim too – to help businesses grow. But I do it differently from my business development colleagues. I push out well-crafted messages through relevant channels. BD, in turn, ensures that the fruits from my effort are nurtured and nourished for the long-term. I cannot live without their follow-through and they cannot live without my seed planting.

Business Development and Marketing Enrich Your Buyers’ Journey

My favourite way to break down the stages of the Marketing/BD collaboration is using the funnel approach. The stages are; Awareness (top of the funnel), Consideration (middle of the funnel) and Decision (bottom of the funnel).

Here’s an infographic to summarise the customer’s journey through the funnel:


This approach is used by companies like HubSpot and is commonly referred to as inbound marketing.

Let’s look at how BD and Marketing work together throughout the funnel.

Awareness Define ideal customer profiles

Develop value proposition for each customer group

Create a list of potential customers based on profile

Make initial introduction to customers that fit the profile

Consideration Publish content on industry best practices

Perform competitor analysis to understand potential customers’ options

Create digital lead magnets as part of an email marketing strategy

Deepen relationships with new contacts via networking

Ensure relevant compliance requirements are in place

Create a customer engagement strategy and a process for maintaining existing relationships

Decision Schedule demos

Set up webinars and free trials

Create and share case studies

Develop a digital marketing program of regular interaction with customer via relevant content and customer events

Set customer’s expectations

Answer questions about product and services, and next steps

Handover to sales team to close the deal

Identify future opportunities for upselling and cross-selling

Benefits of Business Development and Marketing Working Together

Considering that 70% of the buyer’s journey is complete before a buyer even reaches out to a sales person, it is more important than ever that sales, marketing and business development work closely behind the scenes to facilitate this journey. Furthermore, 57% of the purchase decision is already complete before the customer even calls the supplier.

The advantages of working through the process together are:

  • You know who your customer is (hint: it’s NOT “everybody”)
  • You go from a general description of your customer (macro-view) to a list of specific companies (micro-view) that you want to engage with
  • You add value to potential customers before they even ask for information (or realise they need you)
  • You ensure you have what it takes to do business with your potential customer before you go in for the deal
  • You have a clear strategy for interacting with and informing your target customers of what you do
  • You meet your potential customers face-to-face – not just online – thanks to strategically selected events and networking opportunities
  • You build trust by ensuring that all teams are aligned with your messaging and what the customer can expect from your business
  • You have the best people from each role guiding your potential customer from start to finish

It is a pleasure when I see this collaboration across teams. A business can work smarter (and not harder) to achieve business growth. I call it nothing short of amazing!


About the guest blogger

Yekemi Otaru owns YO! Marketing Limited, a strategic marketing consultancy that works with B2B companies to achieve business growth. In addition to being a published author in social media networks, Yekemi’s areas of expertise are marketing strategy, competitor intelligence, product marketing and content marketing. Yekemi is often invited to speak at B2B marketing conferences and local events. She has a strong background in engineering and is often involved in mentoring young girls to enter STEM subjects.


3 Benefits of Using an External Business Development Consultant

In my last post, I defined business development and the various forms of business development support that an organisation could engage to achieve its goals. Briefly, business development is ‘the process of finding new strategic opportunities that create long-term value’. It is based on building and sustaining the various relationships that a business needs to reach the next level of growth.

Recent trends show a move towards using specialised knowledge in different fields to achieve better results in specific areas. The energy industry (renewables, oil and gas) have engaged with me, with some support from Scottish Enterprise and similar bodies.

As a business development consultant, I have seen an increase in the use of business development professionals and, specifically the use of consultants to focus on strategic growth. However, the benefits of using a consultant over other options are not often clear. Senior execs and managing directors don’t often consider this option in their search for the right set of skills that will get the job done.

Here are three benefits of using a business development consultant within your organisation.

1. Access to relevant and diverse experience

My business development counterparts come from a variety of educational and professional backgrounds. They are usually highly knowledgeable about one or more industries, where they have a wealth of experience and strong networks. Over time, they will have worked with dozens of organisations, helping them to work through business growth challenges and opportunities.

Therefore, business development consultants come with relevant and diverse experience. They provide a fresh pair of eyes and generate creative ideas that may difficult to see if you have only ever worked in a specific industry or company.

Because of the varied work consultants do, they can benchmark against other parties, to give their clients a true view of how they stack up with their peers and an idea of who they can collaborate within an industry to create further opportunities.

2. Enhanced networking opportunities

Research shows that companies have more confidence in external consultants than in-house ones. The role demands an inquisitive, firm approach and an ability to ask difficult questions. This is not easy for in-house business development staff.

Consultants often have a vast network and can talk on behalf of a client rather than presenting themselves as the client. For instance, their business cards would be that of their own company rather than of the client’s company. This could alleviate some of the barriers that occur when meeting potential customers or partners because it appears less “sales-y”.

Also, due to working in varied businesses and sectors, consultants often have access to several different networking groups/organisations. Many of these are at senior level. Drawing upon this experience, they should be able to advise which events will be most beneficial for your own business.

Many consultants have associate networks and will call upon these when required, to make sure you get the best advice/service possible. This might be needed when working on a diversification strategy into other sectors, for example.


Benefits of using a business development consultant


3. Potential cost savings

Instead of committing to permanent employment, bringing in a consultant can help to keep costs low. For instance, you don’t pay for NIC, holidays, sickness or pension.

I found this cost calculator, which you might find useful: Consultants vs True Cost of Employees.

Consultants know that they have limited time. They work hard from the onset to deliver early wins and showcase successes. Therefore, not only might they cost less, but a good consultant will work hard to be more cost-efficient.

But look out for this…

Before hiring a business development consultant, make sure you meet them in person. It seems simple, but I have come across business owners who have hired consultants (from any function) based on a phone conversation. Even if pressed for time, meet the consultant first, even if it needs to be a Skype call due to being an overseas project etc.

Job applications always require information about past work experience; it is the same for a consultant. If you are bringing external support into your business, ask about their experience in similar roles. What specific activities have they been involved in? What are their key strengths? This information will provide clarity about the consultant’s fit for the business.

And, finally, get recommendations from the consultant’s previous clients. You can get quite detailed feedback and don’t be afraid to ask specific questions about the consultant’s work ethics, attitude to challenge and ability to work with people at all levels of the organisation.

In summary…

There is great value in using an external business development consultant to achieve your business goals. It provides specific experience and increased networking potential, all at reasonable, short-term costs. But be sure to ask the right person before you hire and always get a recommendation!

What Is A Business Development Professional? 3 Types Of Business Development Roles

This is a question I get asked often: what is a business development professional, and what’s the difference between in-house, outsourced and consultant? The variety of terms that are used to describe similar (but not necessarily the same) types of business development roles can be confusing.

Having a clear understanding of these roles and the differences between them will help you to choose the right option for your business, and avoid making a potentially costly mistake.

Let’s start by defining business development itself; here’s my definition (adapted from writer, Scott Pollack):

The process of finding new strategic opportunities that create long-term value for an organisation through developing relationships with customers, markets, sectors, suppliers, partners and other commercial relationships.

Now that we’re on the same page, we can look at what a business development professional actually does.

What does a business development professional do?

A business development professional typically works closely with management, sales and marketing teams to develop a strong understanding of the target audience and business’ end goal.

He/she works towards business growth that requires the development of business relationships. This will not only include customers, but also commercial relationships, such as supply chain and partners.

Resourcing and establishing processes is also a key concern of a business development professional, as they are crucial to driving and sustaining growth. For instance, a start-up oil and gas services company might have a new technology for oil operators. The technology might be patented, but they don’t have their ISO accreditation.

Without this accreditation, they are unlikely to have a tender accepted by an operator. The same thing could happen if they haven’t joined FPAL yet or, depending on the product, perhaps they need a certain type of audit from DNV.

A business development professional will identify any such gaps that exist within the business. He/she is there to ask the right questions to ensure that the business is ready to pitch to the prospect client. These questions might include:

  • Are we targeting the right market?
  • Is this the right product for this market?
  • Do we have the processes and resources to make it a success?


Types of business development roles


Now, let’s explore three types of business development roles that can help you achieve business growth. Remember these are broad groups – job titles and tasks might vary from organisation to organisation and from sector to sector:

3 types of business development roles

In-house business development

An in-house business development professional is likely to work for the organisation on a full-time basis. They will often have deep experience in one area of the business, from working in similar roles/industry for many years.

They’d be looking to develop relationships within their industry, and find where they can build strong rapport that ensures that others are talking about them. Their focus is on clearly communicating key messages that build credibility.

In-house business development professionals will have a single allegiance i.e. the organisation they work for and, hence, could be perceived as having greater loyalty.

Outsourced business development

This is an option that could cut costs. It is one less salary, pension and healthcare cover to worry about and it provides flexibility.

In my conversations with some business owners, they feel that outsourced professionals understand the need to get results quickly and therefore work hard to prove themselves from the start.

Outsourced professionals are often working with several clients and therefore can have quite varied experience. This varied background provides interesting perspectives, and new ideas, hence the money has been well spent to get outsourced support into the business.

Business development consultant

As a consultant, one of the main goals is to teach businesses how to do it themselves. The consultant’s end goal is always to move on. Therefore, some of their time in the organisation is spent teaching and/or training in-house staff to take on the work once the foundation is there.

This can be difficult for a business owner who would prefer a long-term engagement with a consultant that is driving good results. There are no rules on timing, but it certainly shouldn’t be for years on end.

Much of the work I get is from business owners who have a technical background and need to learn how to think commercially. This is a perfect teaching opportunity and a great environment to get the company into a sustainable position. From there, we can create a solid business development-focused presence going forward.

I also work with many business owners who have got stuck in a rut; they have been so busy operationally that they have forgotten, or not had time, to be strategic. I work with these executives monthly to help them get strategic again and start focusing on their business growth and sometimes exit strategy. We focus on specific actions and a simplified plan to fit into their already busy schedule.

In summary…

Business development drives opportunity and growth. It collaborates with sales, marketing and commercial functions to achieve the goals of the business. The expertise could come from within an organisation, as in-house permanent staff. It could also come from working with an outsourced agency or a consultant.

Which option is right for your business depends on your business model, financial circumstances and your goals and objectives.


Please get in touch for an informal chat.