More than a decade of grousing about product management

Business Development Whiplash

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The Dude wishes that Biz Dev was staffed with good people who add value, alas, they are mostly staffed with has-beens and ineffective individuals

The Dude has long had a suspicious nature when it comes to the role of Business Development Manager (BDM). In his vast and varied experience, the people in this role fall into one of two categories:

Salespeople who report to the Business Unit GM or VP, and who do the BU’s bidding. Think of them as a dedicated, focused sales resource.

Once star salespeople who have fallen on hard times, who should be managed out, but sentimentality/loyalty/friendship makes you want to keep them around, so you make them a BDM, and let them putter around.

This thinking was seriously challenged last fall when the Dude met a true Business Development unicorn. This guy rocked. He took discards, dreams, and possibilities, and built business after business, handing them back to the bigger organization without any ego to run, and moved on to the next opportunity.

Talking to him was inspiring and caused the Dude to rethink his reflexive distrust of the role of BDM.

Then the Dude picked up a new product line, one that wasn’t new, but the prior management was, to put it bluntly, fucked up. (nb: the Dude doesn’t blame his predecessor, but instead the senior manager who “owned“” the product for fucked up priority setting)

This product is largely sold through a BDM team, due to it being too small, and too specialized for the wider sales channel, the BDM team is to be the specialists to drop in and close or move deals along.

And, as part of this process, the dedicated BDM is, how to put it politely, a frickin moron. He checks the boxes:

  • Once a strong sales performer who has struggled. check
  • not very technical – as in can barely spell the product name. check
  • a classic sales dude, perfectly fitting all the cliches. check

Yep, after one brilliant interaction with a Business Dev unicorn, the Dude is back to wallowing in the muck with mediocrity, and mendacity. Instead of taking the load off the Dude, the close partnership with this BDM is actually increasing his workload.


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A crusty veteran from the product management trenches. Plenty of salty language, references to cannabis, and a connoisseur of White Russian cocktails

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Written by pmdude