5 critical steps toward better business development
- By Bill Scheessele
- Oct 20, 2011
Along with the global economy, there are significant signs indicating how radically the government contracting business has changed in the past few years.
It’s apparent this new world order demands different models for winning business, and requires visionary leaders who step up, transform their organizations, and outthink, outsmart, and out act their competition.
White paper: A call for visionary leadership in government contracting
There are some similarities between government contracting and the energy industry’s deregulation era a few decades ago. During that time, the whole world turned upside down for energy utilities, originally conditioned to have no competition. Whole segments went from safe-regulated environments with guaranteed profits, to being required to compete for some of the same customers they once served. With a new ability to spin off for profit subsidiaries, they were also encouraged to search out and create new opportunities, not just capture whatever business was handed to them.
Prior to this, a few senior utility executives visualized the inevitable deregulation revolution about to take place. They proactively re-engineered their models and reorganized the way their companies went about producing revenue. Ignoring criticism, they took visionary steps, some of which their traditional-minded colleagues considered too risky. They changed their utilities’ collective culture to a proactive business model and repositioned their organizations to compete in the marketplace before the deregulation cataclysm hit and their conventional revenue growth paradigm shattered.
This preemptive strategy brought with it a significant investment in developing and implementing a business development process as well as training personnel. History proves this proactive strategy succeeded.
The new climate in government contracting, with dwindling opportunities and growing competition, requires more than cost-cutting tactics and job elimination. Reactively bidding everything that remotely matches up to your firm’s capabilities without gathering critical bid/no bid intelligence, passively farming your current customers for expanded business, or simply tweaking your business development/capture/proposal processes won’t provide the winning formula for sustained revenue growth.
Your likely result from these steps is a costly lesson in lost time, misused personnel and wasted resources.
Moving the revenue needle on a consistent basis requires a visionary call to action to a multifunction, multi-disciplined approach in the business development sphere.
This encompasses five areas for change management:
- Foster a Transformation in Business Development Personnel, Process, Structure and Organization Mindset. BD professionals must rise above tired conventional models and embrace critical, innovative thinking. The reactive mindset is out; proactive is in.
- Install an Opportunity Identification and Qualification Methodology to Balance the Pipeline. Use your opportunity identification and qualification process to balance long-term and short-term opportunities along with re-compete contracts. Many organizations have discovered there’s a critical missing opportunity identification link at the front end of their BD process. When included, firms ensure pipelines are based upon reality instead of mythology.
- Target a Specific Selection of Markets and Customers. Visionary leadership is required in market selection and investment to target new industry segments and customers. Another avenue for market expansion is acquiring small and mid-sized businesses with opportunities adjacent to current offerings that strategically fit your company and are favored by customer budgets.
- Focus upon Strategic Services and Products. Instead of attempting to do or provide everything to everybody in a customer base, leadership needs to decide what the organization is really good at, as recognized by clients, and focus upon these specific areas.
- Provide Empowering, Unwavering Leadership Support. Top leadership trust and endorsement on every level is the essential ingredient in this initiative. Support includes not only a strategy of smart-revenue growth with budget commitment, but frequent positive feedback in discussions with rank and file business development and operations personnel. Leaders who recognize and appreciate proactive business development as the catalyst to achieving revenue growth targets today and every quarter going forward, offer the BD organization unwavering support, encouragement and empowerment.
Visionary leadership is a role embraced and executed by a few change-agents who risk and dare to become legends in their industry.
Bill Scheessele (email@example.com) is chairman and chief executive officer at MBDi, a business development professional services firm.