Sales to Creating Your Own Opportunity in BD With Chris Braun

Jeff White November 24, 2021

Jeff White

Jeff is a small business expert focused on marketing, finance, sales, business development, and legal work. He's been featured in a number of publications such as USNews, Forbes, The Week, The Street, Investopedia, and CNBC.

Today’s spotlight interview on business development and partnerships professionals gets the answers from Chris Braun, who is the Manager of Strategic Partnerships at Cirrus Insight and Zynbit. 

Cirrus claims to be rated as the #1 app for integrating Salesforce into your inbox. It aims to put all of the power of the most powerful CRM on the planet right into the daily flow of your inbox. The app allows users to streamline their processes, improve their meetings, and make sure that they never miss out on lost opportunities because it gets buried in your CRM.  

All of the responses to our questions and prompts below are completely provided by our interviewee, Chris Braun, and are his personal thoughts and opinions.  

Describe your background before you broke into Business Development & Partnerships 

I have had a myriad of different vertical market jobs over the course of my career where I worked with people from all over and have lived in several states.  This helped excel me in direct sales roles where creating a relationship is key, and helped prepare me for the career I’m in today. 

What made you want to break into BD & Partnerships? 

I saw a gap in our organization that I had been trying to fill for years. Since I had longevity with my company, I had worked with a lot of our key partners from years past. This made me the right fit for the opportunity when the time came to move the organization in that direction. 

What are some lessons that you learned earlier in your career that you still rely on today?

My top three lessons that I learned early on are: 

  1. Be patient. Fresh eyes and cooler heads more often prevail.  Rome was not built in a day.
  2. Rely on others, but do the heavy lifting with them.  In the end, you are accountable to those around you and especially to yourself.
  3. The hardest challenges are what define you and are the most memorable.

What was a major pitfall or challenge you faced early on in your BD & Partnerships career and how did you overcome it? 

I have always had the desire to master any subject and learn as much as I can right away so that I can build a strong foundation for my career.  I also have always thought it was important to do all the work myself in order to prove my value, even in lost opportunities.  

Over the years, I have learned that fluidity and collaboration are more important.  There will always be new challenges that make you take steps back and rebuild so that you can discover new paths to achieve greater success. Plus, you do not learn anything new if you are the only one talking.

What education or training, if any, has most helped you in your career in BD & Partnerships?

Degrees in Psychology and Business Management allow me to see both sides of the coin on most decisions. A full understanding of the individual as well as the business needs allows for deeper interpersonal connection.  Knowing all facets of my product and service allows me to take a consultancy approach, which I find is a huge benefit to my work.

What is your favorite part about working in Business Development? 

My favorite part of working in BD is that every day is different but meaningful. New conversations with new individuals allow for the growth and continued existence of both entities and really create a symbiotic relationship. I am constantly able to feel the impact of my work.

Where do you see yourself going in your career long-term?

I have been a part of both large corporations and small startups. I really enjoy being involved in the creation and decisions of the organization, so I hope to continue that in whatever comes next. So, long-term, I ideally see myself either as a corporate trainer or the Head of Partnerships at a startup. But why limit yourself? I could see myself in a number of different future roles.

Bottom Line

We appreciate Chris for jumping into the hot seat and sharing his experiences with us. Proving your business needs a business development team, or function is one of the most common ways we’ve heard of individuals breaking into BD.

However, there is still no clear path. If you’re interested in learning more from great leaders in the industry, or you need help in shaping your own career path, you should apply to join Firneo’s community of business development professionals.