RIP traditional business development
- By Bill Scheessele
- Aug 26, 2011
More than one senior business development leader describes the
out-of-control circumstances being experienced in government contracting
as akin to the Wild West. If they’re correct, traditional capture
is buried on Boot Hill.
Your previous capture system, built on a structured and predictable
procurement process, is mismatched in this untamed setting. Instead of
reacting with fast-draw responses to the situation, it is prudent to
develop a BD strategy and plan to confront the chaos, grow revenue and
win in this undisciplined environment.
Step 1: Cut
assessing your current organization, prune deadwood and remove
underperformers. Cut excuses for not meeting objectives by holding
personnel accountable for results. This will empower the BD team, as long as you invest in the appropriate measures to
assist them in this mission. Provide training in updated processes to
face this altered procurement scenario. Without training, your team is
bringing a knife to a gunfight.
Cut out unprofitable areas of services and products or shift the
market focus. Just because your offerings were favored a few years ago
doesn’t mean they fit your customer’s needs today.
And take a hard look at your customer base. Cut bad business; it can
be even worse than no business at all because it consumes resources with
minimal return. Rein in customers that no longer fit your model and those
that can’t match your margin requirements. Focus only on markets and
clients with potential for growth. If mergers and acquisitions are a
component of your strategy, consider investing saved resources to buy
into favored markets via acquisition.
Step 2: Cap
your outlay in personnel and financial assets. Set your budget to drive
your required revenue results, and refrain from reacting to the herd.
Use a proactive opportunity identification and qualification process
based on intelligence gathering to validate prospects early in your
process. This methodology helps protect personnel and budget resources
and weeds out opportunities. As was advised in the Wild West, pick your
In a lean business development and delivery organization, which is
required to succeed today, the time and talent of your personnel are as
valuable as your funding. In the face of restrictive government budgets
with a preference for low prices, a low overhead rate is the wild card
in the poker game. If this option is available, use it. Balance by
bidding your best people while also controlling your cost structure.
Step 3: Balance
Whether you focus on the
short term or long term, pick a strategy that fits your
organization. Do you want your team generating revenue in a year, or do
you want them focused on long-term business a few years out? That
decision requires balance because you don’t want all of your eggs in the
long-term basket. On the other side, too much short-term focus leads to
the hamster-mill scenario. That can mean you are reactive to generating
revenue this year, make your numbers in the short term, and then repeat
year after year. You’ve joined the herd in commoditizing industry.
Effort vs. reward ties into short-term vs. long-term focus. Make sure
your compensation and incentive plans are in balance. You
want to reward your best performers with the highest bounty. Balance that by moving nonperformers who deliver zero reward out of
that role. Ensure that your commission structure is also balanced
against long-term and short-term objectives.
Result: Grow revenue now
Achieve strategic revenue objectives. Look outward on the revenue
horizon for your strategic growth target. Decide how you want to grow
from where you are, adding revenue incrementally. Beware of growing too
fast without the required infrastructure, and grow your organization
within itself to match revenue objectives. Choose to grow with a
specific model, within strategic selected areas and market segments.
Invest in your talent. Provide education and professional
development to help them fight through these difficult times. It’s a
wise short-term and long-term investment.
Leadership needs a visionary growth model that’s planned and proactive
— and unlike the showdown in the classic film "High Noon," in which you’re
Marshall Kane, make sure you're not outmanned so that you can live to face another gunfight.
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, strategy, planning and personnel services in addition to education workshops to help BD professionals identify hidden strengths, barriers to progress and opportunities for improvement. Learn more about MBDi, their revenue growth resources and their workshops at http://www.mbdi.com.