Robert Davis


Have you embraced the new model of BD?

How is Your Digital Business Development Working?

When I discuss the work of business development with my contacts everyone agrees that BD is changing.

Then the discussion quickly becomes murky. How is it changing? What is different now? Why does the job seem so hard?
One major reason is the emerging phenomenon of ‘Digital BD’.

Hinge Research Institute’s (HRI) e-book, Online Marketing for Professional Service identifies a quantum shift underway affecting a fundamental tenet of our industry. The model for selling professional services is predicated on establishing and maintaining relationships. Successful BD people are pros when it comes to establishing relationships with potential customers. They know what to say, when to say it and what resources are necessary to secure a potential customer’s trust.

The traditional BD model, according to HRI, looks like this:

Meet -->Relationship -->Expertise -->Trust-->Client.

BD meets the client, develops a relationship, demonstrates the firm’s expertise, builds trust and then wins the client’s business after successfully navigating the procurement process.

This tried and true formula has been a foundation of our industry for decades.

Now a new BD model is emerging. The world of Digital BD looks like this:

Issue -->Education -->Expert-->Trust -->Client.

Let me explain. When a potential government customer has an daunting technical or management issue or unexpected problem that must be addressed, they go online to find information that defines the problem, explains the problem and offers alternatives for problem resolution.

In other words they wish to become educated about the issue.

Customers will seek subject matter experts who are able to discuss their issue and present options or tools that may be applied to address the customer’s problem. Customers may read white papers, blogs, technical presentations, research findings or e-books during their search for knowledge.

Once they find information i.e. knowledge they understand, they will note the expert’s name i.e. the source who provided the subject matter understanding to them, and they will note the company’s name too.

If they trust this source, they may invite the company to meet with their team during the market research phase of their procurement process.

There is further market research from Hinge Marketing, Reston, Va., that explains how buyers of professional services are increasingly going online to find trustworthy sources of the services they need. These buyers are finding new business partners online more than attending conferences or reading industry press, as examples.

Folks this is called disintermediation!  The Internet has disintermediated the music and publishing industries, and is forcing change into the health care industry. Our industry is not immune to this technological and societal force.

A successful digital BD model requires having an integrated BD function across BD, operations’ management, the company’s subject matter experts and a strong thought leadership paradigm through the company’s web site.

Lead generation, customer contact management, business qualification, capture management and organic growth are no longer the strict purview of BD.

These activities and more require an integrated business model across the enterprise led by marketing and BD. BD people must drive the creation of the company’s Digital BD paradigm; we have no choice.

About the Author

Robert Davis is a 35-year veteran of the government IT marketing and has held positions large and small firms in areas such as marketing and sales, program management, business development and market development. He is an expert in business development, marketing, and management.

Reader Comments

Mon, Jan 27, 2014 Karla Williams

I have been advocating the benefits of educating and informing prospects through social marketing for a couple of years. I have seen companies with no federal prospects for a particular service end up with signed contracts for business through careful use of email, social and phone follow up. However, it all began with digital efforts tied to social marketing. Thanks to Mr. Davis for bringing this new reality to light.

Thu, Jan 23, 2014 Jamie Bratten

Robert's article about the "New Model of BD" is 100% accurate with our very same beliefs. Government contractors have to rely more and more on specialized intel to thrive in the GovCon space. The information is available through a myriad of public sources but market intelligence tools integrate that precious data and present it in such light that it saves BD people countless amount of hours to have this available to them instantaneously. Lead generation has changed from the knocking on door after door for generation has long left the sales toolkit of most businesses. Generating qualified leads from specialized intel and then vetting those very leads to a more manageable package enables any BD team to utilize some of the older sales techniques such as a face to face meeting to officially seal the deal. That approach will always triumph over others but management the process is now even more critical to the BD world.

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