Business development success is a combination of best practices and the right mindset working together and achieving repeatable success. Here are seven principles you need to know.
The field of business development is full of tips and tricks to help you increase your wins and avoid losses. However, true BD professionals know that what’s in your head matters as much as what’s in your toolbox.
This post was inspired by a blog by athletic trainer Allistar McCaw, who has worked with tennis players, golf pros and Olympians to improve their performance.
At MBDi, over 37 years of experience in BD, training, consulting and coaching has taught us taught that BD is a holistic set of practices and mindsets that work together to achieve repeatable success rather than one-hit wonders.
We have observed and personally experienced the following tenets in action, and they have consistently proven to be the cornerstones of the best BD professionals. We’ve collected them to share with you so that you can learn how to be the best, from the best.
1) Accept that they will not make a “sale” every time they make a call.
Professionals have learned that they don’t control whether or not the prospect buys – that’s within the prospect’s control. Instead, they know that they only control how they execute their process, as well as the right level of thinking and discipline it requires. The sale is simply the outcome of correctly-executed process and thinking.
2) Know that success does not lie in a one-off win. It lies in the consistent control of their emotions, preparation and mindset.
BD is as much a mental discipline as it is a mechanical process. By controlling your thinking and working your process, nothing is a random event. Proper preparation before a call, including Practicing, Drilling and Rehearsing, leads to predictable behavior with controllable outcomes.
3) Understand that they must give their best effort for the customer and believe they can help them, even with opportunities that they feel they might not win.
Professionals always put purpose ahead of goals. They choose the interest of the client in balance with their own personal and professional goals. Professionals are psychologically comfortable in realizing that if the client doesn’t win, they don’t win. They know that BD is not a zero-sum game.
4) Do not spend their time comparing themselves or their current performance to their greatest ever performance.
Your best performance in BD is a one-time event. Often, it isn’t even something you created anyway! The ability to set goals and measure yourself against your goals on a consistent, ongoing basis is what drives improvement, not mulling over past mistakes or wins.
5) Do not make excuses.
Responsibility is defined as doing the right thing, the right way, the right time, all the time. There are no excuses. We may rationalize, but only because it’s necessary for mental health. In the end, if you rely on excuses, you only let yourself down.
6) Do not ruin their chance of performing well by letting a bad call or decision get in the way of their next call.
Professionals in BD understand the vulnerability of “afterburn,” in which a preceding event continues to have effect on present behavior. They’ve learned how to do After Action Reports, analyze what went successfully (or not) on a call, make the necessary corrections and move forward. They’ve learned mental discipline.
7) Know how to ethically win “ugly.” The best professionals always do their best, even when they may be at their worst or even when pursuits are not going according to plan.
In the end, professionals learn that there are no perfect prospects, and there are no perfect BD professionals and systems. Frequently, you’ll find yourself having to use the old Marine adage of “Improvise, adapt, and overcome.” It works for the Marines, and it’ll work in BD.
To be successful, people in BD must have a firm understanding of not only the mechanical processes involved in BD, but of their own psychological state. Socrates famously said, “Know thyself.” From our experience, this knowledge – or the lack thereof – can make or break a BD professional.
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