The word Business Development is ambiguous - what does it even mean, more importantly, what does Business Development mean on the dealer level? The idea that your role is on many levels apart of the dealer's infrastructure. In that, you or your team make and enact on decisions that influence the way business is done, which can have a profound impact on the dealer's bottom line. But let's back up for a moment. Not all dealers - while they use the term business development - actually have their employees or their respective teams develop business. Rather, they are a part of a department that assists the GM, and sales managers in their roles. And in a way acts as a band-aid rather than creating and executing meaningful change.
It is no secret, really, that BDC Centers were first created to perform tasks that management could not get their teams to perform. The very idea that the foundation for many departments was derived from that is unnerving. Where, instead of shifting the way we approach business as sales consultants and managers, we created new, costly, roles to 'fix' or 'band-aid' the ongoing issues. And in many instances - as profit margins have been thinning; fixed-ops can only absorb so much of the cost as expenses loom - dealers had to cut the BDC departments. This is a multi-faceted conversation, too. The very idea that your BDC team costs you money is everything wrong with how this word has and is used on the dealer level. But for a business development team to be successful, and most importantly, profitable, there has to be a purpose. A purpose that enacts on successfully creating change. Change that builds a solid team in everything from process management, marketing, business development, vendor relationships, budget analysis, and departmental alignment and changes.
Having been in this role for nearly eight years, there are a few things I have learned that helped push me in the right direction. One that has afforded a solid foundation and growth.
A Job Is Nothing Without the Right Boss. A Leader is Not Just A Boss, However, and Should Be An Invaluable Mentor.
One word that comes to mind about a boss versus a leader is micro-managing. In that, if your boss is not decisive or otherwise able to allow their teams to make decisions on the dealer level with regards to everything from marketing campaigns, vendors, business strategies, or team development then it can have a grave impact on your growth and development. Make no mistake, either, in that it is just as much your responsibility to be decisive and clear with both your thoughts and intentions as it is your leaders.
An example that I will never forget, and has changed the way I look at marketing campaigns today, is how I instructed to execute them. That is sending an email campaign - regardless of the content - to the entire database. The idea was that the more emails we send, the better chance we had in getting a response. And while that is true - in that, you will get multiple people to respond saying "unsubscribe me" - that is clearly not the response you want to receive. Not to mention, as we know - sending campaigns to a targeted list is a much better practice and will help with both response and engagement. Namely, because of being micro-managed and unable to execute a relevant campaign, it got to the point where it made creating new ideas illogical, and unexciting. You cannot learn and grow if your every move - down to the audience the campaign should be sent to - is micro-managed. Albeit, making mistakes can be costly, but it is more important at the end of the day to focus on the bigger picture, and not simply sending an email to every single email.
There Is A Stark Difference With Disagreeing With Someone And Having A Chip On Your Shoulder. You Can Own It Without Being Disrespectful.
If a Vendor offered a fix - much like the cheesy infomercials - it must be right! Anything that could magically fix a problem without us having to execute and or make a change. This is by no means an effective way to lead or manage a team. More so, if you do disagree with a fix have both Merrit and a well thought out purpose in what you have to offer. I once encountered a trainer who had created unresponsive email templates - on PDF's no less - and they deleted all of the templates in the CRM because they wanted to increase in open rate, which has nothing to do with the content, but rather the subject line, audience, and timing of the campaign. BUT, that obviously was not the answer, and I disagreed, which was not taken well.
Look, this isn't about the frustration of hours and hours of work being deleted as a result of one opinion. Instead, it is about having those conversations without including your team, without knowing the full picture, and taking the word of someone that does not know your dealership. As I have mentioned before, however, make no mistake - own your thoughts, and do not apologize. Even if that means that it puts you at a distance between your boss. As backtracking your perspective and ideas is equally as distracting and unattractive. Understanding that these decisive business decisions might put you on the outs.
We Fix Problems Before They Become Problems. We Create and Execute Business Strategies that Impact the Bottom Line.
Developing business - or a pipeline - is not easy. Especially when you are trying to develop business in the confines of what we know. Namely, in the last eight years, I have learned that it is essential to think outside of the box. And while that can and is in most cases an overused cliche phrase, it is a phrase that has both meaning and merit. Wherein, if we are continuing to only do what we know vs. taking a chance and being 'different' then how can we not just develop ourselves, but more importantly build business? One of the best ways to approach a new idea or thought is to understand the purpose. And sure, we get it. The goal of an Ad Campaign is to what? Increase sales. But when you look at a 'campaign' simply as a 'campaign,' we limit our ability to think of ways to change the structure of the campaign. In that, if we have done the same campaign types over, and over again, we cannot expect to get better results. To combat this mode of thought, I would spend time using the Google Ad's Experiments, and while I did not always add a lot of money to those campaigns until I knew it was going to be a success, most of them worked.
Bottom Line: you cannot think of your role as a limited, one-dimensional role - you have to not just create and execute campaigns, you have to ensure that everyone involved in the campaigns and the 'conversions' that derive from them is executed on. In that, once you have made a decision or executed a campaign, your work is not done. Your team - including sales managers - cannot do their part if you do not give them the information they need. And it does no good to increase your leads if your dealer cannot manage them. And simply cutting the budget due to their underperformance is not the answer, either. Instead, there are times where you have to have frank conversations with your GM or Sales Managers to ensure they, too, understand the campaigns and the purpose of them. In doing so, it can and will help your dealership execute on those opportunities.