Bill Scheessele

OPINION

How client engagement is the new model for revenue growth

After searching for more effective revenue growth models, many companies are now shifting their organizational focus to creating effective client relationships from the onset of an engagement. This focus is particularly critical when one of the organization’s strategic objectives is the development of new business opportunities.

Experienced business development (BD) hunters are responsible for finding and developing new customers through the execution of a proven client engagement process (CEP). Conventional wisdom says that a Hunter requires a minimum of 750 – 850 hours of practical experience to achieve competency with the CEP. However, just going through the motions of the CEP is not enough to improve customer engagements; the process is a far cry from being an instinctive or “wing-it” methodology.

Instead, a hunter must develop a solid understanding of the psychological behavior of their prospect so they are prepared to deal with the challenges they present. At the same time, a hunter must also deal with the conceptual limitations of their own thinking.

Effective hunters use numerous tools to identify how a prospect is motivated psychologically. These tools include an understanding of Newton’s Laws (e.g., “…a body at rest will remain at rest unless an outside force acts on it”) and Parent-Adult-Child (PAC) ego states (i.e., a prospect’s personality is a mixture of their behaviors, thoughts, and feelings).

When a hunter applies these tools appropriately, they are able to obtain information and uncover a prospect’s psychological pain, which is directly relevant to why someone will buy a product or service. The correct application of these tools also allows hunters to avoid fruitless engagements.

An experienced BD hunter with one of MBDi’s clients recently shared that a good CEP is not unlike the human intelligence (HUMINT) gathering process used by the government. Just like an intelligence officer, an effective BD hunter gathers information by means of interpersonal contact. They use a standardized system to rate the reliability of sources and the accuracy of the information they provide. A hunter also considers information to be true only after it has been confirmed by a number of sources.

At the beginning of the opportunity qualification process, a hunter identifies their priority intelligence requirements (PIRs). PIRs include what the hunter knows and, more importantly, what they do not know. Once the requirements are prioritized, a hunter identifies who might have the required information and who might be the right person to gather the information.

The ongoing process of managing and organizing the collection of information is referred to as intelligence collection management. This process is most effective when it is executed with a contact plan based on PIR and executed by a BD professional skilled in effective psychological behaviors that are used to qualify opportunities.
 
To develop the qualified and shaped opportunity, working “left” of capture, it is important that all intelligence be summarized and validated, and that information collected and documented, to an ongoing refinement of both opportunity analysis and intell plans.

An outward facing CEP, that maps closely to the early opportunity identification and qualification (OI&Q), part of the company’s internal process, is critical for revenue growth. At the same time, it is also critical that BD hunters receive the requisite training in behavioral psychology to be able to execute the process effectively.

In short, the “how” of a CEP is the easy part; the “what” and the “why” of the individual doing it are critical for its success.

If your organization’s strategic objectives include developing new business opportunities to drive revenue growth, ensure your BD hunters execute an outward facing CEP. Providing education and professional development for these key members of your BD team will result in a profitable return on the investment.

About the Author

Bill Scheessele is CEO of MBDi, a business development professional services firm. He leads a team of government contracting business growth experts. Learn more about MBDi and their revenue growth resources at http://www.mbdi.com.

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