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For Business Development/Partnerships/Strategy professionals in Tech or Business: what type of skills, methodologies, and frameworks have you developed over time in order to do well in your job and have a positive impact towards your organization?

I’m currently a senior @ Rutgers University studying IT & Entrepreneurship. Highly interested in starting a career in the business side of Tech and would like to one day lead the transaction of billion dollar deals and market partnerships. #business #entrepreneur #strategy #business development #partnerships #product #alliances #sales # #management #technology #marketing

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John’s Answer

Hi Umair,

That is quite the goal! I love it! The hard part is building up to that, right?

So, the technical foundation is a must. You need to be able to talk to your product(s) and company. You also need to understand who you are selling to (what are their goals, needs, current products they use, and the common language THEY use). These are the basic NEEDS: the foundation.

After all of this, sales often comes down to relationships. Building trust and networking with other people. These large deals require a level of trust and understanding that can only be accomplished with meaningful relationships. Without that trust, the deals are likely to fall through. So, I recommend getting to know people and practicing building trust and a reputation for high-quality work and integrity. Your reputation and network will lead to bigger and better opportunities as your career grows.

There is no one framework or methodology that works for everyone, but the essentials (what I framed above) are the same for everyone who wants to build a sales/business development career.

Best,
John
Thank you comment icon Thank you! Umair
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Dmitri’s Answer

Spending time researching your organisation's industry, your customer's business, and global trends is always helpful. Always start with your customer's business (empathy & relatability) and work your way backwards. Your product/solution should only be introduced once you have a very clear understanding of your customer's business problem or cost/risk of doing nothing.

Also, keep in mind that customers are only open a certain number of hours per day. Face to face time with them for business development, during these hours, is the best use of your time to maximise your result, saving administrative tasks for before/after normal business hours.

Suggested books: Challenger Sales and Challenger Customer.
Thank you comment icon Thank you so much for the book suggestions! Selling is a valuable skill I am always trying to build on :) Umair
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Drew’s Answer

You're off to a great start, because you already have the courage to ask questions!

-Ask to Listen, Not to Answer-
People know when you are genuinely listening to them. It builds trust, it uncovers opportunity, and it will pay dividends in your long term growth. Strive to understand the "why" behind everything; don't settle for surface level answers. The more deeply you understand a business challenge, the bigger the opportunity you'll create.

-Feedback-
Ensure those on your team - managers, peers, customers - know that you value feedback. The worst we can hear in the business world is nothing at all. It's much better to have something negative to action than to not know where you stand. If you intend to be a transformational leader, you will need to be able to digest feedback as well as give it. Start now and it will become a fabric of your being!

-Never Get Comfortable-
If you are fully comfortable in a role, you've likely outgrown it. Be willing to say yes to new challenges, even when you may not feel ready or if they veer from the career path you once envisioned. That's where true growth happens. A change may not make sense now, but it will all make sense in your rear view mirror.
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Vi’s Answer

Knowing where you want to be in the future is awesome!

Prior to my current role, I worked in technology partnerships in tech. Most medium size or above tech companies have an alliances/partnerships organization that helps define go-to-market strategy for the company + a partner. You might want to look into some of those types of roles if you're interested in building out partnerships.

If you're looking at tech, one of the things to keep in mind is understand the part of the tech industry you want to focus on because it's different for SaaS companies vs hardware vs consumer-based software. That's something to keep in mind - research is key.

Another soft skill that people take for granted is the ability to work cross-functionally, which means all those nights that you stayed up during college working on team projects is going to pay off. You'll want to be able to work across business development, sales, engineering, marketing, etc. to get your partnerships off the ground. Building the foundation for why a partnership will matter to each group will be important to get stakeholder buy-in.

Another route you can consider is management consulting. My first project in consulting was actually on a partnership and focusing on $B partnership deals.

Good luck!
Thank you comment icon Hi Vi, Thank you for taking the time out to write an insightful answer! Aside from consulting, do you this Customer Success or Tech Professional Services gives you a good overall track into GTM Strategy based roles or possibly a track into a strategic partnerships role? Is it research/analytics that make a professional an effective strategic partnerships professional OR is it one's ability to negotiate and soft-skills/domain that allows partnerships professional to stand out? Umair
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Mark’s Answer

One of the most powerful frameworks I have leveraged in my career is using the Rule of Three to help organize my thinking and recommendations. Humans naturally absorb information better when it is framed in terms of three - not four, not 5, not 10, but three. This is why we remember slogans like "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness" or "Mind, Body, Spirit" or "Go Fight Win" or " Faith Hope & Charity" etc.

Try to organize your thinking and recommendations in terms of three things. If you have list of 10 things, think about how can compress those 10 things into three.

It takes more time and effort to get to three, but the results are well worth it.

The Rule of Three was first written about by Aristotle in the Book of Rhetoric “Omne Trium Perfectum”
(Everything that comes in threes is perfect)

Good luck!
Thank you comment icon Hi Mark, Appreciate your answer & time! I actually practice the "Rule of 3" in all my interviews & projects - thanks for reassuring the framework. Umair
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Rebecca’s Answer

There's a lot of great answers here already!

From my own experience as a young SDR/BDR, when you enter the industry you'll be inundated with different sales frameworks and methodologies to learn. In honesty, a lot of these frameworks are the same message, dressed up in different ways.

I can definitely say that the thing that helps me the most - no matter what company I'm working in - is to have a good understanding of how whatever it is that your company provides actually helps people. No matter what you're selling, you need to see things from the customer's point of view, and connect with them based on their needs and challenges.

So gaining a good understanding of the common pitfalls or challenges in the industry of your company, and how your solution helps that is a key first step. Then you can start to ask questions around these things and uncover if your prospect has the same issues. When you have a good understanding of what their working life is like, then you can start to see where you can improve things for them! There are many wonderful and useful frameworks out there, but if you don't know your audience, you don't know how you can help them!
Thank you comment icon Thank you so much for your answer! Umair
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Jackie’s Answer

The most effective way to connect with your audience is to find ways to be personalized and relevant.
When you get into your role, you'll likely want to learn 2 key things: use-cases (problems that your solution solves), and typical buyer personas.
When thinking about building relationships, you'll want to be personalized and relevant (at scale). Understand your buyers and their problems and it's easy to put together language that will speak their language.

On LinkedIn: I recommend following Kevin Dorsey, Josh Braun (and listening to his podcast, Sales DNA), John Barrows, Dale Dupree, and Trish Bertizzi, Jeb Blount, and Anthony Iannarino.
For podcasts: Sales Gravy, Sales DNA, Conversations with Women in Sales, and the GaryVee Podcast.
For reading: I'd start with Fanatical Prospecting, The Only Sales Guide You'll Ever Need, The Challenger Sale, and 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
Thank you comment icon Hi Jackie, Thank you so much for those specific resource suggestions! I already have an interest in doing customer interviews and understanding their pain-points in the process of their existing use-cases, so definitely helps give me direction with your advice above. Does a Sales track prepare a person to be an effective deliverer on Partnerships/Alliances? Umair
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Erwin’s Answer

I am a Business Analyst and a Software Development Analyst for a retail company for 10 years. What I have noticed is how companies have switched to a more flexible way of doing developments. So I would suggest looking at more Agile Methodologies like Scrum, Kanban, and SAFe since most companies are looking for these types of skills and experiences. But that does not mean the more traditional Waterfall model is not relevant anymore since there are instances wherein it is still better to use the traditional methods over the more agile methods.

Also, it never hurts to have technical knowledge even when targeting a position towards the business side of tech. Coming from a more a technical software developer role initially, I can use that as an advantage now that I switched over to being a business analyst.
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Gloria’s Answer

You have gotten a great deal of wonderful feedback. You have a couple of different strategies that you might want to undertake. I would add that you should make a point of being a lifelong learner. Technology and business skills are often growing at a pace where you can go six months and be behind if you are not paying attention. I work hard to make sure that I am keeping up with trends by being early to take classes on new topics or the next big thing in my company or industry. I used to go to a yearly Learning and Development conference to stay abreast of trends in my chosen career which is Instructional Design. You can become a powerful leader in your organization by simply having knowledge of what is coming up.
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Stephen’s Answer

All of the answers so far are great. One add is because you are a senior, and I'm sure this is obvious, but look at paid internships in sales, finance, alliances and channels and marketing and you'll also get great experience on how companies approach Biz Dev and Partnerships. Each is a little different but if you want to do large dollar deals and partnerships, it is a must to understand the dynamics. I agree with the Challenger Sale read and all of the framework, language recommendations since software and dev/ops is evolving so fast its imperative to keep up since things are changing so fast. I'd also recommend subscribing to an on line mag like HBR (Harvard Business Review) or MIT Sloan since they do an amazing job of pushing information and ideas across every industry and technology and they do it daily.

Stephen recommends the following next steps:

Subscribe to an on line mag like Harvard Business Review (HBR)
Thank you comment icon Thank you so much for your time & answer! I actually read the HBR every month and keep up with market trends in different Tech Verticals - mainly FinTech & Productivity SaaS. Umair
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Andrei’s Answer

No matter how technical the subject of the deal is, the main framework is to translate it into the dollar language: how much more money will the customer earn with your solution vs the status quo? how much less money will the customer spend with your solution vs the status quo?

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Matt’s Answer

Make an effort to network internally within your organization.
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Austine’s Answer

The greatest things I learnt as an SDR/BDR is confidence and having resilience. Learning how to navigate a conversation with enthusiasm and being able to pick yourself back up are the most important skills I've gained in this industry.

Austine recommends the following next steps:

I would suggest reading New Sales. Simplified. as this book really broke down how I should approach conversations with clients and how to be resilient!
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Anthony’s Answer

Networks are important! Remember that growth in any organization requires people to vouch for you. Your managers, teammates, and direct partners within an organization will be your biggest advocates.

In terms of sales methodologies, I'd invest in understanding MEDDIC and learn more about the Sandler selling strategies.
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Robyn’s Answer

I work in a Martech (Marketing Technology) group which is utilizing new offer targeting technology to have a positive impact on the validation side of offer targeting. Keeping up with technology is a must to succeed in most businesses.
Thank you comment icon Thank you! Umair
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