Should Your Business Development Team Stand Alone? [Part 3 of 4]


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David Cummings, who blogs about entrepreneurship and startups, published a post in 2014 titled “Sales Development Team: Most Important Sales Process Innovation in Ten Years.”

Bus Dev alone shot

While business development, what some call sales development, teams have been around a lot longer than 10 years, the value these teams bring to an organization has evolved.

Marketing creates a plan for generating awareness and interest in what your organization has to offer, business development focuses and measures that plan, and sales executes on the plan.

As the buyer’s journey becomes more and more self-directed, the function of business development becomes all the more important — so much so that some companies find value in having a senior leader of business development who is separate from marketing and sales.

The first two posts in this series examined the strengths and weakness of housing your business development team in sales or having this team report to marketing.

Today we will look at five reasons that your business development team might be most successful when led autonomously by a leader who eventually rolls up to the chief revenue officer or to the chief operations officer. 


1. Strong response time and follow-up activity

When separated from marketing and sales, business development is more directly tasked with qualifying leads, so they look for and manage the easiest prey.

Using applications like Immediate Response with a powerhouse business development team lets you respond within five minutes of prospects requesting information online — which we know makes that prospect 10x more likely to answer, and 4x more likely to convert.

2. Prioritized outbound

This team usually focuses on outbound particularly well due to the fact that generating leads is their primary job.

3. Creates a clear career path

Empowering business development to stand as its own function creates a business development career path that ensures the best reps stay within the function where they can grow themselves and others.

This eliminates the “sales academy” treatment of the business development team, enables managers to hire candidates who display traits most effective for business development, and ensures that some of your best leads are handled by reps who are highly adept at what they do.

4. Campaign language used more effectively

While marketing campaign language will always be more effectively used when the business development team reports directly to marketing, the business development team will still use the language more effectively standing alone than if they are structured under sales.

5. Strong prospecting skills

When operating as their own function, the business development team will focus primarily on prospecting skills, creating a more highly specialized organization.

Though the prospecting skills of the business development team will be the strongest in this type of structure, the sales skills for these reps will not be as strong as if the business development team reported to sales.

For this reason, there must be a smooth opportunity hand-off from business development to sales.


Managing the departmental hand-offs with this structure becomes one of the primary drawbacks in adopting this type of organizational configuration.

If business development governs themselves, ultimately reporting up to your COO or CRO, you will have two departmental hand-offs to manage:

Unfortunately, more hand-offs can mean more trouble, and some of your very best leads will always be at risk of falling through the cracks.Key Consids for bus dev alone

A Growing Trend

While still less common, the decision to have business development roll up to the chief operations officer or chief revenue officer is gaining traction with some organizations, especially in larger companies.

Ultimately, your business development team should be led by whomever has the energy and the desire to lead it.

Your inbound lead flow, the importance your organization places on outbound prospecting, the complexity of your sale, and many other variables will impact how you decide to structure your business development team.

A few questions I like to consider when thinking about where the business development team should reside might help you examine your own needs:

• What portion of my prospecting is inbound vs. outbound?
• What do I want the career path of my qualifier role to be?
• Do I have a leader who really “gets” data-driven sales and who wants this function?
• Do I have systems, people and processes to manage “hand-offs”?
• How much self-sourcing does the inside sales or sales closer team do?

You should also give yourself permission to re-examine your decision regularly as your organization evolves and grows.

Whatever model you choose, attention must be given to aligning the performance metrics in each of your departments. You will lose every time if demand gen is compensated entirely on the number of inbound inquiries they stir up, while business development is evaluated by the number of appointments they set, and sales focuses only on closing opportunities.

Sales acceleration technology can provide crucial visibility into each of your processes to help you identify where and how to increase your productivity and effectiveness.

In starting with the right lead management system and process, you will be able to put your people in the right places.

Of course, each company’s position is unique. Over the course of this blog series, we’ve had a lot of folks writing in, wondering which structure would work best for their individual needs.

Interest has been so great, that I’m excited to announce a bonus post, Part 4, that will seek to answer some of these questions.

If you have a specific question about how to structure your own business development team, leave your question in the comment section below and I’ll address it.

The series in its entirety can be viewed here:

Should Business Development Report to Marketing? [Part 1 of 4]

Should Business Development Report to Sales? [Part 2 of 4]

Where Business Development Belongs in Your Organization? [Part 4 of 4] 

Free eBook: 31 Inside Sales Must Haves

Gain access to 31 inside sales tips to help drive leads, appointments and sales.

Screen Shot 2015-04-30 at 4.09.08 PM

The post Should Your Business Development Team Stand Alone? [Part 3 of 4] appeared first on InsideSales.

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