What is business development? Ask this question to almost any executive, and you'll receive varying, ambiguous, and elaborated answers that border complete "gobbledygook." Even in B-school academia, the definition of "business development" is equally inconsistent and confusing. However, finally, a sensible definition of business development is explained in a new book dubbed "The Sumo Advantage" by Bernie Brenner, a co-founder of TrueCar, and a well-known automotive marketing veteran.
Bernie explains business development("BD") as a tool to harness the power of a "Sumo" to springboard another firm's growth - that is, strategically partnering with an existing industry heavyweight to achieve mutual growth. He explains, in extensive detail, the roadmap to setting up a BD initiative and what to expect along the way. Bernie identifies forces of resistance, both internal and external, and the tried and tested methods to overcome virtually any issue. Bernie creates a platform, in a sensible and understandable fashion, for his readers to design, implement, manage, and ultimately benefit in sales and valuation from a business development methodology.
However, The Sumo Advantage isn't just a lexicon for business development; it's also an entertaining journey through Bernie's experiences in the automotive industry. Bernie explains that his BD strategies launched and secured TrueCar's initial growth, but also "saved TrueCar" from the challenges in 2011. Similarly, Bernie also explains that CARFAX's legally contested and exclusive agreements with Cars.com/AutoTrader, actually began as BD initiatives, that were largely responsible for CARFAX's rapid growth.
In the foreword, Chip Perry, the former CEO of AutoTrader, distinctly describes The Sumo Advantage as the "quintessential guide to business development." Many other "captains of our industry" also make an appearance, allowing readers to gain inside perspective on some of the elite inner circles of the automotive industry. Whether it's the details on TrueCar's affinity strategies, an explanation of CARFAX's business practices, or even Mike Jackson's reflection on the economic turmoil of 2008, readers of The Sumo Advantage should expect to be intrigued by Bernie's firsthand and real-life account of the BD deals that led to the success and growth of the well-known heavyweights in our industry.
The Sumo Advantage is practical, insightful, strategic, and entertaining. However, it's also an industry agnostic guide to achieving otherwise unattainable growth. Hopefully, you'll enjoy Bernie's book as much as I did.