Bill Scheessele


7 signs you won't survive the new normal

Leaders are confronting significant issues in their business development organizations as they deal with the new normal in the government contracting industry. Many firms will not survive if their leaders ignore warning signs and neglect to make changes while there’s still time.

If you find your company in any of these seven scenarios, act now and confront the paradigm shift already occurring in the industry.

1. You recently hired a newly retired senior military officer as your senior vice president of business development. He brought great leadership skills and a killer Rolodex. He comes from a culture that provides the best training in the world, but you hear that he’s frustrated with the lack of professional business development training offered by your organization. He admits he has no idea how to handle discussions with potential customers once he secures appointments, and he’s confronted with revenue objectives he doesn’t know how to achieve. You need to provide him the professional development required to succeed in this role. Do nothing, and you’ll lose him along with your investment in a year.

2. Your company has strong engineering roots and is operations oriented. This culture can create dynamic tension among business development, research and development, and delivery organizations resulting in discounting the contribution the business development group makes to growth. Disruptive internal conflicts must be addressed if you are to tackle the new normal in government contracting. Achieve corporate revenue growth objectives through a coordinated effort across the enterprise.

3. Your business development team is padding your pipeline by responding to requests for proposals that are often forced to fit your capabilities. Your proposal team admits they need help to sort out requests for proposals' ambiguous requirements, but they lack the intelligence from customer relationships that provide insight into what the government really requires. Turn this situation around by supplying your team with a proven methodology to populate a proactive pipeline through building strong relationships with customers long before any bids are announced.

4. Although your pipeline is growing, your proposal win rate is tanking. Your recent investment in performance metrics revealed that your business development organization lacks an early opportunity identification and qualification method. These are key requirements of a business development/capture process. Without them, you’re wasting time and money chasing business you have little or no chance of winning.

5. Several competitors are targeting your lucrative contract coming up for renewal. You thought this recompete was safe, but increased competition for valuable contracts, such as this one, is the consequence of fewer and smaller new opportunities. Unfortunately, your program and project managers lack knowledge of a proactive customer engagement process. While focused on performance assessments, they overlooked opportunities to discuss new directives that significantly impact contract renewal. To proactively take control of recompete situations, ensure your entire delivery organization is schooled in a client engagement process that builds customer intimacy into your business relationships.

6. You finally finished re-engineering your business development/capture process. But your business development team reports that gaps still exist at the front end. They don’t know how to identify a real opportunity or understand the steps of actually qualifying one. So everyone does it their own way, which results in confusion and a lack of consistency. Fix this by investing in a proven opportunity identification and qualification process that details how to identify, qualify or disqualify pipeline prospects.

7. You experience difficulty in assimilating an acquisition. The newly acquired firm brought you expanded capabilities for budget-favored contracts. While competition is escalating, their business development team reacts to RFPs with an order-taker mindset. This reactive culture conflicts with your company’s proactive stance to developing business. Unless you expose this group to the thinking and skills of proactive business development, your expected revenue growth from the merger will not occur, and you’ll suffer the consequences of a bad acquisition.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, take preemptive steps to address the challenges they present. Whether your organization can survive and thrive depends upon your willingness and ability to attack these problems now, before it’s too late.

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

Fri, Jul 1, 2011 Ken Robinson

I find the sbuject matter extreamly helpful and revealing.

Fri, Jul 1, 2011

Great insight!

Thu, Jun 30, 2011 Jackson

Any one of these things makes a company sound like a bunch of amateur losers. Er, they must need a consultant to help them. Re the retired military officer, he (she) should never have been hired in the first place. Get rid of him rather than prop him up. The town is full of colonels and 1/2 stars who somehow think they can be business successes without really trying. Fire current PMs who have not naturally done many things to position for the recompete. Mgt should never have believed any recompete is safe. Fire the management. When confronted with the gross negligence and incompetence described, there is only one sure solution: fire away.

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