Gaining An Edge: When everyone in your organization plays a role in business development, you gain added insight and reach into your marketplace, improving your business prospects in many directions.
Leads can come from many places beyond your business development and sales workforces. They can originate from clients, friends, acquaintances, consultants, competitors, even from the deep reach internal to your organization. Treat each as a prime lead generation environment. For those areas you can control, those internal to your organization (e.g., all employees), exploit the environment, as the returns can be substantial.
Think about it. Many employees have a cadre of friends in their industry, regardless if they perform in operations, development, marketing or accounting. I recall one opportunity that originated from an employee’s wife as her best friend came from government. The lead resulted in an approved prospect, capture and eventual win, generating substantial revenue.
Exploit the Environment
Don’t just declare that everyone is business development. Build out the plan to include initial and ongoing training. Know the end-game. Provide employee training on the company, its offerings (e.g., products and services) and its differentiation. This is different that the standard marketing glib as it is oriented towards employees outside of the sales cycle. Additionally, provide training to go beyond listening to asking appropriate questions without becoming a sales junkie. Provide a mechanism for reporting leads. Acknowledge and highlight the leads, providing a rewards program. I’m betting there will be side-benefits of the employee engagement: increased employee satisfaction, motivation, loyalty and empowerment; customer-focused teams and teamwork; and improved understanding and evaluation of employees.
There is one shadow business development opportunity that I favor. Before anyone gets promoted to a senior line manager position, they must perform a stint in business development. The rationale is clear, at least to me. Business development can always use the extra arms and legs. Most important, line managers learn how to go about the sales process from a shadow business development perspective. They will gain insight of the intricacies of conversations pertaining to scope change and project expansion. They will better understand the tracking of monies for projects, who controls the monies, and are they single year or multi-year monies. They will better understand the importance of expanding their network of contacts within the client base. All of this and more can be accomplished with an internship in business development. The investment will pay off a hundred fold.
Take the plunge. The investment is not substantial and the rewards are significant.
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 GovFlex.