What Is Business Development?

Marketer is the Society’s award-winning bimonthly journal, reporting on current business development and marketing practices, issues, and trends.

Regularly cited as a top benefit of membership, Marketer provides original, knowledge-based content relevant to A/E/C professionals: innovative marketing, management, and leadership strategies, case studies, and lessons learned. Articles are written by industry practitioners and experts who face the challenges of marketing professional services every day.

An updated definition to support today’s business strategies.

For experienced marketers and business developers in the A/E/C industries, the term “business development” is something you’re very familiar with. However, when you’re talking to your family, friends, technical professionals, or even firm leaders, do you ever get the impression that they’re not clear as to what it really means?

Similarly to “marketing,” even within the A/E/C industries—from region to region and firm to firm—you’ll get a variety of opinions.

However, for the purposes of the definition within the A/E/C industries, here is how SMPS defines business development.

Business Development:

TA component of marketing, the process of identifying clients and opportunities, developing relationships, and securing profitable work for the firm.

Let’s dig into what this means.

  1. Business development a component of marketing. Some firms may see this in reverse (that marketing is part of business development), but there’s a reason we view marketing as the umbrella. First, marketing is in our name, but most importantly, SMPS views the umbrella of marketing to house all things involved in the process of creating firm awareness; building and differentiating the brand; driving business development activities; and identifying, anticipating, and satisfying client objectives to achieve profitable business goals. For most firms, that’s exactly where business development exists.
  2. Business development is different than the traditional view of sales. A traditional view of sales is akin to hunting, but business development is more like farming: it’s a longer-term investment of time and energy and not always a quick payoff.
  3. It’s a process. This means business development is not a one-time event and definitely not a thing you can set and forget.
  4. This process is about identifying clients and developing relationships. This includes helping your firm understand which industries and which clients are most profitable for your firm to pursue—and equally important, which opportunities are a waste of time for your firm.
  5. And finally, because you are pursuing the right kinds of work, business development helps achieve more profitable work for the firm.

In short, business development is an essential, business-centric marketing activity that helps firms identify and pursue profitable work. Orienting your firm toward delivering profitable projects and exceeding client expectations will help bring in more work to your firm and meet financial goals. This is business transformation through marketing leadership.

And overall, firms that fail to see marketing and business development as business-critical strategies are far less likely to thrive in today’s hyper-competitive environment.

About SMPS

SMPS members have access to the best marketing and business development training in the A/E/C industries. With a library of publications, conferences (large and small), certification, and other knowledge and professional development opportunities, SMPS is the only organization dedicated to creating business opportunities in the A/E/C industries.


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