Consistency builds customer relationships

Winning strategies | Guest commentary: How to build your business development team

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To contact Bill Scheessele, e-mail bill.scheessele@mbdi.com.

Bill Scheessele

Every organization has a business culture.
Just as in the tale of the hare and the tortoise,
some businesses choose to take a
commanding lead in the marketplace, and
others prefer to hang back and survey their
options more carefully.

Some organizations exemplify a
proactive culture
of pursuing every
business growth
opportunity,
prospective merger,
stock growth
or acquisition.
Others take a
more passive and
reactive approach,
playing off the circumstances
of the
market and grabbing opportunities as
they appear.

Inevitably, the business culture of
an organization is what attracts certain
individuals to that company. The
development of a culture should be
geared toward the market the organization
is trying to target. This creates
an environment that attracts highly
talented people. Often debated,
though, is whether a firm's culture
draws individuals or individuals create
the culture. The answer is, it's
probably a combination of both.

But a company's business development
culture is less clear and less
well-defined because most people
know very little about it. Business
development is a term used for
everything from sophisticated selling
to business growth through mergers
and acquisitions.

Most people have limited knowledge
of how business development is
achieved and by whom. They also
lack the understanding to differentiate
between business development on
a strategic and a tactical level.
Strategic business development
examines how to grow the organization and tactical business development
focuses on everyday tasks, such
as acquiring new revenue and fulfilling
client obligations.

Ultimately, the business development
culture of a company is set by
the principles, values and ethics of its
leaders and those responsible for
business development and revenue
results. It is a reflection of the character
of those individuals, executed
through operational and tactical business
development plans and exhibited
by the individuals charged with
carrying out those plans.

Business development culture is
anchored either on
goals or purpose. A
goal-driven culture is
focused on revenue
growth, bookings, stock
appreciation and internal
metrics, primarily
intended to drive
behavior and desired
results. A purpose-driven
culture is
focused on understanding
the problems and
issues of your market, your customers,
and most important, the individuals
who purchase your products
and services.

A purpose-driven culture focuses
on how to solve client/prospect problems,
challenges and issues, whether
there is an immediate purchase or
revenue result to the firm. Clearly,
each culture can benefit the organization
in different ways, but each has
downsides, too.

Given the benefits and risks, can a
balance exist in a firm between a purpose-driven and a goal-driven
business development culture? Yes,
and ideally there should be such a balance.
However, it's important to
understand that your prospects or
customers are interested first and
foremost in your purpose. They want
to know what value you have in providing
them with solutions and eliminating
problems. They and you
already understand your goal of revenue
growth.

Developing, fostering and valuing a
business development culture are significant
responsibilities of senior
company leaders, and the resulting
culture requires buy-in from everyone
in the organization engaged in customer
contact.

If company employees exhibit conflicting
business development cultures
and differing philosophies, this
inconsistency will result in marketplace
confusion. A dichotomy of business
development cultures within a
firm, its divisions or subsidiaries will
tend to erode overall customer confidence
in that company, weaken its
competitive advantage and dissolve
any hard-earned trust.

In the end, business development and
revenue generation are derived from the
relationships of trust produced by a
strong, consistent and well-balanced
business development culture.

Bill Scheessele is chairman and chief
executive officer at MBDi, an international
business development professional services
firm. He can be reached at bill.scheessele@mbdi.com.

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