Most businesses tend to use an overly simple metric when determining business-development success. It goes something like this:
Are you winning contracts?
- If yes, then things are good and let’s do more of that.
- If no, then things are bad and “Off With Their Heads!”
While this has its advantages (i.e., it doesn’t require much thought), this black-and-white approach is woefully inadequate. Why should we wait until our pipeline has been driven off of the road before fixing contributing business development problems? Why blindly blame the business developer or pricing for capture failures when they’re not always at fault?
A more productive approach is to ask the same question that you would of any other business process that is performing poorly: Is my organization equipped to succeed at business development? You create rigorous quality control and assurance procedures to ensure output for your customers. You also equip your staff with the basic infrastructure to get the job done. Your business development organization needs the same foundation to succeed.
The check-up concept for the business development process is not the same as what might be familiar as the business development opportunity review. The latter is specific to evaluating the viability of a stand-alone pursuit. A process check-up, however, is just as important, assessing whether your firm has the fundamental business development infrastructure required to be successful.
You should consider a process check-up to shed light on where you are indeed performing well and to identify areas where there is room for improvement. Basic features include:
- Opportunity pipeline management – Do you have one? What’s the process for intake/output? Who manages this? How often is it reviewed? How is it measured in terms of performance?
- Business development meetings – While some may dread these, this is an opportunity for thoughtful discussion. Do these feel like you’re in an emergency room trying to save the life of every “opportunity” that comes up?
- Review business development opportunities – Are the reviews formal or informal? Why? Is there a standard process? Are you killing your people with inane questions or does the structure foster intelligent decisions?
- Proposal management – Does the process used for proposals resemble a finely-tuned machine or gladiatorial combat? One could argue that the latter is no process, but instead locking people in a room with the threat “write brilliant material or else.”
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems – Do you have one? Do you use it? Does it fit your business? Is it actively managed or is it some digital graveyard where information goes to rest?
- Partnership development and management – Do you have any strategy or driver to actively develop relationships?
This is a short list of business development systems and processes to check before you start firing people or spending untold fortunes on “rainmakers.” There is no single, correct answer, however; just like anything else in business, solutions depend on circumstances.
Consider a business development check-up to figure out where your business is and where it needs to be.
If you need assistance in tailoring a check-up to your firm’s needs and methods, contact FedSavvy Strategies. We’ve done this for many of our clients and we can do the same for you. Even if you do it yourself, the above list should get you started.
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