Your checklist for better business development

A comprehensive training and development curriculum that focuses on 17 key points will boost business development skills and capabilities, says Bill Scheessele of MBDi.

In response to changes in government contracting, companies have reorganized their structure, realigned services and products, acquired fill-in competencies, sold noncore capabilities, and trimmed staff. Companies are updating their business development plans and processes, if not rewriting them entirely. The business development culture at many organizations is undergoing a total transformation.

At this point, it’s crucial to implement a business development personnel makeover, giving them the process, thinking and tools to be successful in producing revenue on a consistent basis. Training and development are the keys to success.

Investments in education and professional development seldom prove successful in creating desired change if generic training fails to address specific core issues. There is a direct correlation between thinking and behavior with revenue results. Effective behavioral change leading to increased revenue generation occurs only when business development personnel are provided an education that challenges them to elevate their thinking to a higher level in essential areas.

A training and development program should address the following points:

  • Cultivate a working knowledge of your strategic plans and objectives.
  • Know whether operational and tactical business development plans for revenue growth exist and how well those are developed and communicated within the organization.
  • Evaluate business development leaders to ascertain their capability. The leadership’s ability to correctly assess the present situation, be aware of the challenges and be prepared to address them is fundamental to success.
  • Understand the role of every individual directly or indirectly involved in the entire business development process.
  • Have insight into the qualifications of the business development leader with responsibility for the revenue objectives and understand their plan for reaching those objectives.
  • Possess an understanding of your products, services, markets and customers.
  • Uncover and address any skill gaps in the course of assessing overall business development capability.
  • Assess the baseline level of thinking and ability of all individuals around whom the business development process and methodology will be based.
  • Know whether parity exists between the mission of the organization and the personal and professional goals of the individuals being provided training.
  • Know the human resources and organizational development capacity in your company and ascertain their availability to assist in designing and building a successful business development process.
  • Understand the business development culture within the organization and understand what degree of shift is required, and at what rate, to signal change in behavior and affect revenue results.
  • Assess the business development process already in place, understand how it is used, how it has been learned and documented, whether it has achieved desired results, and whether it can be built upon in the future.
  • Document the business development process that is being implemented and make it serve as the basis for the education and professional development curriculum.
  • Determine the level of customization required in the design of the new process.
  • Train business development managers first in the new process so they can coach, mentor and model the new behaviors with their teams.
  • Integrate the business development process with the customer relationship management program to document the quantity and quality of behavior and information gained through client contacts.
  • Be aware of how the success of an education and professional development process will be measured and at what pace.

Organizations determined to create a successful revenue-generating, business development culture should expect to invest 1 percent of gross sales per year for at least two years in this project. This time and budget investment ensures the completion of appropriate preliminary work, installation of initial education and professional development training that addresses existing challenges, and conclusion of follow-up reinforcement and implementation support work. Management must buy into this process and be willing to invest the resources to accomplish it.

At a minimum, the end result is a tenfold return on revenue invested during the project period.

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