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Winning strategies | How to build your business development team

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

Small and midsize government services companies need
to grow, be acquired or be gone. Building a business
development organization is a significant challenge but
a crucial component of success.

Most organizations rely on organic
growth for a significant portion of their
revenue. Our experience indicates that
identifying the most capable individuals
to build your business development team
? and consequently advance revenue
growth ? is both an art and a science.

Many companies
view business development
as a part-time
role, executed in tandem
with program or
capture management
responsibilities.

Individuals in these
roles have talents that
make them good candidates for business
development. They bring leadership and
management skills; technical expertise;
and client, program and funding knowledge.
They understand basic goal-setting
and have usually acquired the ability to
plan and execute a plan.

What you're looking for are differentiators
that separate the star workers.

These include people skills, a grasp of
basic psychology, and the ability to ask
questions and gather intelligence.
An information getter is better than
an information giver. This is a learned
skill, so providing educational and professional
development can help elevate
the thinking of almost anyone challenged
with a revenue growth role.

In an organization, everyone who is in
contact with a client is in a business
development role, whether they believe
it or not. They should always be attentive
to any intelligence, feedback, concerns
and areas that could increase revenue.

It's amazing the information that's available
in an organization once the client
views you as part of the team. Often, the
intelligence that embedded contractors
gather surpasses the information the
business development team gathers during
routine visits to the
client.

Staffing the business
development organization
with the right professionals
is a major
challenge for most companies.
There are specific
skills to consider, a corporate
culture to fit, and,
to make your search
more complex, possibly a
distinct security clearance
requirement.

When hiring from
outside the company,
one of the most vexing
problems we've discovered
is that even seasoned
business development
managers occasionally
have difficulty distinguishing
fact from fiction when evaluating potential
hires. It's often more tempting to
take a candidate at face value than to
attempt to get beyond the BS factor.

Without a sourcing process that includes
the skills to look for and questions to
ask, you're at the mercy of a candidate
who talks the talk but can't walk the
walk. So how do you ensure that the
right people are on board? Take a look
within your organization for business
development talent.

Some of the most successful business
development professionals have never
previously held a business development
title. They arrive in their positions from
in the ranks of program managers, division
managers and other personnel
responsible for assuring that your clients'
challenges and problems are resolved.

They are the individuals who have regular
contact with customers and
are consistently successful in
identifying issues and positioning
themselves with influencers.

As such, they might
already be serving unofficially
in a business development role
by growing add-on business
for your organization.

The key to sourcing business
development talent,
wherever it may originate, is
to seek individuals who are
problem-solvers and people-oriented,
have business thinking,
and are externally
focused. Believe it or not,
extroverted engineers and
other outgoing technical professionals
make great business
development people. They are information getters rather
than information givers.

Bill Scheessele is
chairman and chief executive officer at MBDi,
a business development professional services
firm.

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