Bill Scheessele

Bill Scheessele | Build now to shape future revenue

Current wisdom suggests that the government services industry is safer and more predictable than the commercial space.

However, the word around Washington is that the transition to a new presidential administration means few new opportunities in the near future and a slower government business pace.

Slowing revenue can lead to trimming of business development teams and marketing budgets. But that kneejerk reaction is short-sighted if it leaves your organization poorly positioned to take advantage of opportunities when conditions change.

That doesn’t mean a business development team should consider every opportunity or respond to every request for proposals that remotely fits its organization in the interim.

That’s a waste of time and budget resources.

A better strategy would be to focus on how to shape new business opportunities now for future revenue growth. A development team should have professional business partners who are well-known, trusted and respected in the clients’ domain rather than companies with a peddler mentality.

Strategically, shaping opportunities and becoming the contractor of choice do not happen overnight and are in no way a short-term perspective.

Three requirements are needed to make them work. First, build a good business development team. Then create a process that helps the client solve its problems. And finally, shape opportunities by aligning your organization with the customer’s organization.

One experienced government client said he has learned to pick his people first, then the opportunities.

Another shared his steps for a successful business development process:

  • Acquire an intimate understanding of the customer’s problems.
  • Make a good diagnosis of the challenges being faced.
  • Match your resources to the best solutions for those challenges.
  • Deliver whatever works best for the customer.

However, it also is crucial to align your organization’s purpose of assisting the client with its goals, while also fulfilling your stakeholder and leadership objectives of revenue growth.

Satisfying both is no easy task. It requires choosing only those opportunities that fit your firm’s resources and deciding if your organization is the best choice for aligning those resources to reach company and customer goals.

In the long term, the government offers a wealth of opportunities. For example, the Homeland Security Department alone has 26 agencies, including Customs and Border Protection, the Coast Guard, and the Transportation Security Administration, each with distinct cultures and different decision-makers representing countless opportunities for doing business. The challenge is to pick the one opportunity that best fits your firm’s resources.

On selecting an opportunity, you become your potential customer’s advocate within your organization. The most difficult undertaking for any advocate is keeping the process aligned internally and managing your organization’s thinking so that it stays aligned with the client’s goals. As the client’s advocate, you must compel your executives, stakeholders and team to see the world from the customer’s perspective.

It essentially takes a village of aligned and committed individuals within a company to build this winning combination and establish the groundwork for strategic success.

It’s great if you help the customer solve its problems and achieve its goals.

But it’s golden if you can satisfy your company’s growth objectives at the same time.

Bill Scheessele (bill.scheessele@mbdi.com) is chairman and chief executive officer at MBDi, a business development professional services firm.

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