Planning, process and personnel

Winning strategies | How to build your business development team

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Business development teams often struggle to reach
growth targets or achieve revenue quotas. It can seem as
if you are just digging yourself into a ditch while working
harder to climb out.

Turning a struggling business development
around requires that you
stop doing the same
thing with the same people
and expecting different

We are often asked to
assist companies by performing
a third-party
review of their organization. We have found
three critical items that, when focused on,
can effect positive changes.


Planning is the first step in any restructuring.
A well-developed operational and tactical
business development plan is
required. You need to ask: Do we have
operational and tactical
plans, and do we
understand the differences?

If these plans
exist, how well are
they developed, and
how detailed are they? Do your plans align
with corporate objectives? And last, how
effectively are the plans communicated
throughout the organization?

Without such a plan, there is no way to
know what must be achieved, by when it
needs to be achieved and what milestones need to be met.


A good process drives behavior. Without a
solid, customized business development
process that the team buys into and uses,
you might as well bury your turnaround
funds in the ditch you are already digging.
Off-the-shelf systems are like off-the-rack,
one-size-fits-all uniforms. They generally
don't fit well, and each one looks the same.

It's a safe decision to pick the same process
other businesses use, but that's also the
fastest track to becoming just another member
of the pack.

To get out of the rut, significant steps are
needed to develop a customized business
development process. The process needs to
be built around customer issues, your services,
company culture and the level of thinking
of your people. Some things to consider:
Should the process be built around your
"hunters" or your "farmers?" Will it manage
behavior? Is it adaptable?

In developing a new process, the first step
is to evaluate the current one. Questions to
ask: Is the process documented? Is it being
used? Is it over-engineered? Has it worked?
And can it be customized or improved?

The second step involves getting concurrence
from those who will use the process.

Include the business development team in
the design and development of the process.
If team members are involved in its development,
there is a greater likelihood they
will use it.


Without people capable of closing the deal,
a company will never achieve its goals.
Personnel covers two critical components:
leadership and staff.

Without total support from management
in any turnaround project, there is limited
chance for success. Top executives must participate
in business development and a business
development culture. Business development
is an organizationwide team sport.

Staff members will see any hedging at the
top as evidence that leadership is not fully
committed, and the effort will fail.

It is also essential to evaluate whether the
right types of leaders are in place to take
responsibility and follow through with the
new plan. A leader possessing one set of skills
can integrate or improve a business development
organization, but different capabilities
are needed to grow and run the organization.

It is critical to understand and evaluate
the thinking and behavior of all individuals
responsible for developing business. Do the
team members know what to do, how to do
it and why it works?
Or is there something
in their thinking that
prevents them from
executing the process?

Successful business
development organizations master and
align critical planning, process and personnel
components. Without a plan, clear
direction on how to execute it, and motivated,
capable and willing employees, a business
development team will never climb out
of the ditch.

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

About the Author

Bill Scheessele is the CEO of MBDi, a global business development services firm providing expertise in Business Development best practices in the national security, defense, scientific, energy and engineering industries. The firm offers BD consulting services in addition to education workshops to help BD professionals and teams identify hidden strengths, barriers to progress and opportunities for improvement. Learn more about MBDi, their revenue growth resources and their new virtual training options at or 704.553.0000.

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