As we approach the middle point of the year I find it interesting that some people in business development roles have achieved so much in the first half of the year while others have achieved so little. Why is this? How does this happen? And what is the learning to ensure your organisation is successful in the second half of the year and beyond?
My observation from working with a variety of organisations is that successful business developers replicate success – they undertake the tasks they need to undertake correctly (quality) and then replicate these tasks the required number of times (quantity).
By ‘tasks’, I mean key business development activities such as phone calls, meetings and writing and presenting proposals. They are able to build rapport, question effectively, explore solutions, close and overcome objections.
In addition, they are clear on their proposition, the needs they can address, the solutions they can provide, their proof points and who to target and why.
There are many opportunities to get it right
As outlined above, there are many opportunities every day, where if you know what to do and have the skills to do it, the more activity you undertake, the more successful you will be. In addition, the more successful you are, greater self confidence is developed which in turn breeds greater motivation.
There are many opportunities to get it wrong
On the other hand, the people who are not successful at business development replicate the same mistakes every day e.g. they don’t present well each time they present, they don’t fully uncover needs each time they are in front of a prospect, their proposals are not persuasive, and each time a prospect says “tell me about your organisation” they don’t articulate their organisation’s proposition in a succinct way. Throughout there is a lack of quality and
… It doesn’t matter how much activity they undertake, they will still not be successful
Worse still, the MORE activity they undertake without experiencing positive results, the LESS confident they become. They will also blow a whole bunch of great prospect leads!
I also observe a lack of urgency in unsuccessful business developers that manifests itself in too little activity and never ending excuses, so even if they are capable of undertaking the required activities, their lack of urgency and resulting lack of activity means they don’t get the required results. “We are waiting for…” seems to be a popular excuse. Don’t wait, get on with it! You don’t need 100% knowledge about a program to start discussing it. You do need ENOUGH knowledge to discuss the opportunity with a degree of confidence.
Why am I discovering this now?
In too many organisations managers are expecting their business developers to achieve something they will simply not achieve based on the competency levels of their team member. I see managers discover in training sessions that their team members after years in the role are unable to execute basic questioning skills or articulate the organisation’s proposition – which leads to the question…..what on earth have they been saying in meetings with prospects all those years! The manager should have picked up on these limitations ages ago and addressed them and to be frank, the person should not have been hired in the first place – a more rigorous selection process was required.
Quality X Quantity
The formula for business development success is quality (do it right) multiplied by quantity (repeat it). It is a mantra that should be lived every day by a business development team. You can apply the same formula in the gym, kicking a football and learning the guitar.
Recommended next steps for business developers
1. Identify all your required business development activities.
2. Where required, get training to fill your competency gaps.
3. Keep your activity levels high.
Recommended next steps if you manage a business development team
1. Identify all the required competencies in your team to complete the business development activities and check whether team members have them.
By check, I mean watch them present, test their questioning skills, ask them to articulate your proposition – it’s the only way you can be sure that person is representing your organisation effectively in a way that will lead to the outcome you are hoping for.
2. Where required, provide them with the required training to fill their competency gaps.
3. Make sure they undertake enough activity
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