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Reinventing Business Development

Bad Habits and Mistakes

Small businesses often learn some bad habits as they try to bootstrap themselves into existence. Large companies often make the same mistakes, perhaps because they're organized like a collection of smaller companies or because they're under similar pressures to economize. Large or small, the end results are similar. They:

  • Get in the habit of looking for RFPs they can bid because they don’t have the time to look for customers or markets they can develop into more reliable opportunities.
  • Hire someone who knows about “sales” and expect them to have a magic Rolodex that delivers business.
  • Hire someone to prepare their proposal documentation and expect them to win because they're the last ones to touch them.
  • Ask someone to define their business development process, but don’t resolve the power struggles among the various stakeholders or demonstrate the discipline required to successfully implement a process.

Once a bad habit takes hold, it becomes part of your corporate culture and can be very difficult to change. This is especially true when it impacts who you hire and the expectations you set regarding what their job is and how they should go about doing it. When your organization is small and you have the authority, it's easier to hit the reset button. But even when your organization is large, the normal turnover of staff sometimes presents you with opportunities to reset how things are done.

Cultivating Good Habits

Business development requires that an organization figure out:

  • Where to look for leads and what kind of leads to look for
  • How to distinguish between a good lead and a bad lead
  • How to pursue a qualified lead
  • What format to use for reporting the status of a lead and how to review progress
  • How to position your company to win the lead
  • How to develop a winning proposal to close the lead

Instead of just hiring some staff and leaving it to them to figure out, the next time you have an opportunity to hit the reset button, try putting in place the structure that future staff will need to be successful. For each item above, there are things you can do to provide guidance, improve oversight, make sure everyone has the information they need, and set the right expectations.

When you have the right structure, then newly hired staff get up to speed faster. You gain insight into the progress that they’re making and can help them along. You're better able to foster cooperation and to leverage all the resources and capabilities within your organization. You win more.

Reinventing Business Development Requires More Than Just Hiring Smart Staff

One reason that companies don’t hit the reset button is that even though they hire expert staff, each person is an expert in only one area and business development is very much a team sport. Information needs to flow from one person to the next. You need a strategic plan to provide guidance on where to target. You need data regarding the target market to turn strategy into contacts. You need contact plans and history to turn the contacts into leads. You need a qualification process to separate and prioritize the leads worth pursuing. You need progress reports and a pipeline to assess your leads. You need to ensure that the efforts to pursue those leads provide the information needed to close the sale with a proposal. It’s a team sport with everyone playing a part. You don’t just need good players. You don’t just need a coach. You also need a playbook.

Reengineering How Companies Reinvent Business Development

We provide that playbook. We also provide a little coaching for those who need it. But our goal is really to give companies what they need to become a team that can play on their own. A team that doesn’t need someone on the outside telling them what to do. A team with its own coach, players, and a playbook that gives the individuals what they need to work together.

Usually we do this through the documents we publish. But right now we also have an opening in our “incubator” program. This is where we explain everything from strategic planning to target identification to qualification to pursuit so you can develop a winning team. Instead of opening your wallet to an ongoing hourly rate, we have outlined 16 sessions (one per week for four months) where we go through each topic you need to address. Instead of doing it for you and sending a big bill, we provide the structure so you can accomplish what you need and pay a much, much smaller bill. At the end of the series, you’ll have what you need to operate independently and no longer need us.

Do You Want Your Corporate Culture To Reinforce The Good or The Bad?

The most important thing is to build the right corporate culture. It’s really painful to tear down one that’s dysfunctional and rebuild. When you have the right culture, it’s self-sustaining and makes it so much easier for the magic to happen. It’s really the result of some hard work and not magic. But the right culture will take away all the obstacles and let it happen.



 Find out how the MustWin Process can help you reinvent business development at your company 

Price: $495.00

 In just 16 weeks we can help you develop a strategic plan, turn it into targets, identify leads, define your pipeline, and implement the processes you need to capture them 

By Carl Dickson, Founder of

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