Often, the literature surrounding business tends to overemphasize the technical end of things. Profiles and interviews paint successful entrepreneurs as analytical, methodical and faultlessly rational. Articles on new advancements in business technology celebrate the role of tools and automation, often at the expense of the thought leaders behind them. And spotlights on companies tend to focus on hard figures like completed sales numbers, market share, M&A deal values and so forth.
To be clear, there’s nothing wrong with viewing things technically – it’s a perfectly legitimate lens through which to understand the wide world of business. But it often misses an essential facet of success: the human element.
This is certainly the case with business development, an all-important process in modern business. Technology and data undoubtedly play a critical role in biz dev. However, it’s also essential for entrepreneurs and owners to understand, respect and value the human element in it.
What Is Business Development?
Before delving into the human element of business development, maybe it’s wise to define this often-nebulous term. For a while, “business development” became a catch-all term for anything orbiting sales and networking. But the real definition is much more specific than that.
Marketing manager for Hubspot, Kristen Baker, hits the nail on the head, managing to be concise without sacrificing clarity: “Business development is the process of implementing strategies and opportunities across your organization to promote growth and boost revenue.”
Where Technology Meets Humanity
As mentioned, technology certainly plays a role in business development. Arguably, the entire concept of biz dev was born out of technological advancements in data acquisition, data analysis and communication tools.
Lead generation software, AI-powered data analytics software and new market research tools are integral to our contemporary understanding of business development. But, as Nobul CEO Regan McGee puts it, “A lot of people claiming to be disruptors and innovators in the industry are doing the exact things that have been done for decades,” adding that his business is instead trying to use technology to “create a consumer-centric experience.”
In other words, you can’t have technology without a human element. They need to co-exist for successful business development.
The Human Element in Business Development
Business development uses technology as fuel, but its true engine is people. Some common elements in business development include:
- Thought leadership: A key element in biz dev is an organization’s ability to understand and convey information authoritatively to become a credible expert in its field.
- Positive brand association: It takes a human touch to understand how your organization is perceived and try and steer opinion to achieve the kind of brand association you want.
- Meaningful customer outreach: Every touchpoint in the buyer’s journey needs to feel genuine and add value. The best business development reps might pull information from research and data, but they back it up with a solid foundation of emotional intelligence.
- Customer service: Business development isn’t just about qualifying leads and closing sales – it’s a process that follows through on sales with exceptional customer service. The “reputation-building” elements of biz dev require dedicated and empathetic humans working in customer service.
- And, of course, a human-centric approach: business ideas and corporate philosophies that take people into account.
Next time you read an article touting the role of technology or the importance of data, remember that those technical elements don’t exist in a vacuum. They require a people-focused, human approach to successfully promote a business’ growth and revenue.