A Harsh Business Development Reality

Last week, I received a call from a friend who is the director of business development for a small local NYC firm – he said that after working for this company for a year and a half, his employer is looking to renegotiate his contract. The proposal is for him to be 100% commission with no base.  This tactic is essentially “letting him go” or asking him to work for free, either way a big problem.

Let’s first examine the position of the business owner who spent money for a senior “business development professional” and did not see his “sales” increase. Where is the value? As a business owner, I did not always know the difference between sales and business development. What I have come to realize is that each position requires a separate skill set, and if you are not the business owner there are limitations on what you can accomplish.

I have known my friend for over 25 years. We grew up in the industry together and he knows his way around the business development world.  From the start, he was doing what he does best and establishing great connections for his employer’s benefit. My friend estimates that in the next 6 months multiple projects are headed his way for his current employer.

What are his options?  Should he try to hold on or walk away and start from scratch?  It’s not likely that he will stay in the same segment of the industry, so he cannot bring those opportunities to another firm.

The Lesson:

It’s the responsibility of both the employer and business development professional to get it right and align with expectations. In this case, even though my friend knows what he is doing, he has to take some responsibility because his employer did not know what he was “ordering”. The reverse is also true, if you are a business owner that knows the difference, you must hire someone that also knows!  A miscommunication happens when two or more parties think they are communicating and they are not.

Gary Anzalone