What’s the deal with BizDev? pt. 2

James McGuirk left a detailed comment on my original post that warranted a response.money2.jpg

Nicely written article and one that addresses the likely perspective of a product-oriented organization. Fundamentally they have interest in cultivating relationships with larger vendors which inherently increases the possibility (at least) of expanding the channel.

Thanks, and yes, correct, though I’d have to say it is from the perspective of a market-driven product organization. i.e. the clash between an overall market focus for products vs. a deal-driven partner/customer focus is the crux of the problem. As I mentioned in my comment to Mike Sabat:

In a sales driven company, product follows the transaction. i.e. the company builds the product to fulfill the transaction criteria.

In a market driven company, which is where Product Management looks at overall market needs (and not strictly at individual customer needs), the transaction follows the product. i.e. the company sells what is built with little or no modification.

While sales-driven and market-driven may not sound like they are too far apart, they are almost complete opposites when thought of from an operational perspective. But I digress.

James continued:

My perspective on business development however is derived from the vantage point of a systems integrator, where there are significant differences between services and product. As someone who has spent over 20 years within federal business development, the term implies an understanding of all aspects of winning business.

Companies that sell services, or sell products which include services, are almost always transaction-oriented, and therefore sales driven. I can sell you my generic product, but also sell you services to customize the product for you in some way. As soon as the services component comes in, even if the service is simply to help someone choose a product, the particular needs of the individual customer drive the activity.

In aggregate therefore, business development experts within the federal marketplace should have all those aforementioned qualities to be successful. Suffice it to say because of the level of comprehensive knowledge required, their expertise is always welcomed. Hope that helps. Jim.

The aforementioned qualities laid out in James’ comment are: Sales, Marketing, Capture Management, Proposal Management. What James describes is a different type of business development than what I was describing. In a product development company (vs. a services company), BizDev is usually part of of the Channels organization. It’s goal, as James mentions, is to expand the channel. But the issue that has frustrated me is the way many BizDev managers go about it.

Sales people are told to sell the current product. They can’t sell futures and they can’t make promises of future functionality, even if it is “on the roadmap”. But BizDev managers aren’t always held by these rules, even though they are fundamentally also sales people. I’ve seen too many cases where they sell futures (in the name of being strategic), and they discuss issues that are way off the roadmap — like the IBM mainframe port I mentioned previously. When this happen, serious misalignment occurs.

I have no issue with BizDev or Strategic Alliances in general. I see the need for them clearly. But I also have the responsibility as a Product Manager to do what is best for the product and the company. And much more often than not, that means saying “No” to rogue BizDev managers (and even, with some professional risk, Senior Management), when they go “off roadmap” and start looking for that “company making deal” (I’ve heard that phrase far too often) with some gargantuan organization that frankly, is going to waste a lot of our time, and is unlikely to ever close the deal from their end.


One response to “What’s the deal with BizDev? pt. 2

  1. Pingback: How to be a GREAT Product Manager (part 6) « On Product Management