Bill Scheessele


Yesterday's business development strategy sure to fail today

New tactics needed to succeed in the current market environment

Bill Scheessele ( is chairman and CEO at MBDi, a business development professional services firm.

It is becoming more evident that to be successful in the government marketplace, the thinking that drove your previous business development, capture and revenue growth strategies won’t match up to what’s needed in this time of radical change.

It’s unfortunate that a business acquisition methodology employed during previous “good times” has created survival problems for some of us now. Or, to paraphrase Albert Einstein, “The thinking that got us here isn’t the thinking that’s going to get us where we need to be.”

To survive in this atmosphere, you must change your thinking and actions from those which worked for you before. This includes all of the characteristic sales push tactics of pressing company-crafted solutions on customers, pushing them to buy by giving a lot of information, presenting product features and benefits, or plugging your superior service capabilities.

From our experience, what works now is being a master problem-solver by getting inside your prospect’s head to really understand their needs, wants and requirements. Or, in other words, you need to gather intelligence. Be mindful that obtaining meaningful customer intell is a far cry from just gathering data. Obtaining first-person, primary intelligence means engaging customers with a business acquisition process to understand all underlying issues in play. This engagement strategy is necessary to craft the best solutions to their problems based on your firsthand knowledge of their situation from their perspective.

Getting inside your customer’s head means you comprehend what their real issues are, and you can do this better than anyone else they might encounter. This ability builds a bridge of trust and is a powerful competitive advantage. Instead of pushing products or pressing services, you create an atmosphere that sets you apart from your competition. The result is that customers pull you into frank and revealing discussions of their problems.

The outcome of a prudent client engagement process and gathering primary customer intelligence is that early on you are able to identify business opportunities that match your firm’s capabilities, or disqualify those that don’t measure up. If an opportunity is appropriate, you can deftly and ethically craft the best solution to customer issues well before any request-for-proposals release.

If you’ve been frustrated by losing proposals you thought you would win, more often than not the opportunity was lost long before your proposal team even started writing because you lacked customer engagement and had limited intelligence gathering.

It doesn’t take the brilliance of an Einstein to create this client-focused atmosphere. But it does require using a customer engagement process distinctly different from what you’ve implemented before.

Why not make a New Year’s resolution to implement Einstein’s idea and apply new thinking to your business acquisition process.

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.

Reader Comments

Tue, Dec 14, 2010 Robert B. Bell

Great article! I've been teaching marketing for the past 10 years and your article hit "Home" Good job and thank you! Bob Bell

Tue, Dec 14, 2010

he speaketh the truth!

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