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Can Your Company Survive Business Development Turnover?

One of the earliest adopters of the MustWin Process is preparing for the retirement of their key person responsible for business development. For most companies, especially small businesses, the loss of the person responsible for pursuing new business opportunities, the person with most of the customer and teaming contacts, would be traumatic. Planning for the transition shows how process adoption can produce unexpected benefits.

About a year ago, the company brought in someone to administer the process. The new person implemented the Readiness Review portion of the MustWin Process. Readiness Reviews enable a company to track its progress towards being ready to win at RFP release. Each review has specific questions to answer and goals to achieve. The Process Administrator was responsible for scheduling the reviews and maintaining the documentation related to them. This person also maintained the company’s lead tracking reports, which were integrated with the Readiness Reviews.

The result is that the Process Administrator is familiar with the leads, as well as the information that needs to be collected to qualify and capture them. To streamline the transition, the Process Administrator has already begun collecting the information required for the Readiness Reviews and directly interacting with Contracting Officers and teaming partners.

What would happen at most companies is that all the focus would be on the leads. The person taking over would be introduced to the new customers and would take over intelligence gathering and internal reporting requirements. All the orientation would center around the leads themselves, with process being an after-thought. The result of this approach is that the amount and quality of information obtained would depend completely on the luck of the draw. No one would know what foundation had put in place, which is critical for the success of failure of the whole endeavor, until the proposal starts.

The difference for a company that has adopted the MustWin Process is that the process provides guidance regarding what information to collect and then measures progress. Someone who is new doesn’t have to figure out what’s important, but can instead follow the process. Because the process tells you what topics need to be addressed and when, it also helps with relationship building. The result is not only will a new person be better able to collect the right information, they’ll also be more successful at building strong customer relationships.

What about new business?

A lot of companies make the mistake of hiring a salesperson who they think will bring business to them. What they really need is a strategic marketing effort to identify targets for their sales staff. A saleperson shouldn’t pursue blindly or surf for RFPs. Instead they should have specific targets to get to know and prospect.

The MustWin Process focuses on the pursuit and capture of a specific lead. What we did was add a layer of strategic marketing and a reporting system focused on answering key questions like:

  • What is the gap between the leads we have identified and the leads we need for the company to hit its revenue targets?
  • Will the strategic targets fill the gap?
  • What are we doing to identify leads within the strategic targets?
  • What is the progress towards being ready to win the opportunities identified?

This turns new business development into a process of elimination. The size of the gap is defined. New strategic marketing initiatives are identified to make the gap smaller until it is eliminated.

The real challenge is not the prospecting but the strategic marketing effort to identify the targets. In this case, the company starts by targeting recompetes — relevant contracts that have already been awarded to someone else. They have identified a number of them, along with the anticipated date of expiration. This fills a portion of the gap with leads that extend years into the future. Each of these leads can be qualified and pursued by following the Readiness Review process.

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By Carl Dickson, Founder of

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