Having a client focus drives a different mindset and manner of thinking that is invaluable to a Business Development Director (BDD). Going an additional and very important step is to focus on the client’s client, as this is after all what drives client performance.
Understanding the solution the client desires and the challenges behind their quest for improvement/change is of paramount importance. Most contractors fall into one or more of the following intelligence gathering methods
• Web Trollers – Stay-at-the-office strategy researching a client and their challenges through web site visits. Some helpful information though often basic information without uncovering the root cause of the challenge.
• Luncheon Groupies – Join your competition by attending gang luncheons where all parties gather the same intelligence. Often nuggets of useful information are shared at these venues.
• Client Visits – One-on-one direct conversations with clients can be very useful in your intelligence gathering activities. Key is to ask the right probing questions. Also key is to listen to the response. Remember to let the client talk without interruption, “selling” at the appropriate time.
• Client’s Client(s) Visits – The reason for the client acquisition is to satisfy/ improve their performance with their clients, be it activities or information sharing. Identify these clients and visit them when possible or investigate them thoroughly through research and conversations with your client.
Let’s cut to the chase. Everyone functions as Web Trollers and most BDDs attend luncheon groupie gatherings. Many visit with their (prospective) clients and consider their job done after one visit. Few spend the needed time with their client to probe and gather essential intelligence while getting to know the client and having them get to know you. Without this needed interface, establishing the much needed trust factor is a fleeting exercise. Even fewer research and visit the client’s client(s). They stop with the client. They don’t take the all-important step of performing the activities necessary to understand the very important set of client’s clients and this can make all the difference in submitting a winning bid. Remember, your client is putting out the acquisition to satisfy or improve their interface with their clients, whether internal or external.
Think about your role as a BDD. A primary task is to help your internal team design the optimum solution for your client. Sure, by talking to your client you can figure out what they want. But is it the optimum solution? No doubt your client understands what they want but there are multiple ways to satisfy a solution. Perhaps your client hasn’t thought about various considerations or options. But if you were to carefully dissect the needs of their client(s), understanding their unique sets of challenges, you will have the information needed to share with your solution team back at the office. In all likelihood your team can build a solution that fine tunes what the client is considering and pushes a few extra “buttons” or expedites some activity that your client hasn’t thought about. This is what differentiates your solution and proposal from your competitors that ended their research with the client.
Stay tuned for upcoming posts on each skill/attribute of a bonafide Business Development Director provided by Bob Lam. Bob is the principal and founder of Bob Lam Solutions and is affiliated with GovProp.