Everyone in a company plays a business development role, but it is still critical to have a plan on how to develop and refine their BD skills.
If you have direct or indirect leadership responsibilities for revenue generation, you need to know who to develop as business development assets and how to judge the value of your investment.
Most would agree that every one of us is in some form of a BD role, be it customer relations, program management, or other forms of customer interaction.
Even though we all have BD roles, everyone isn’t necessarily a natural BD talent. BD thinking isn’t necessarily something that some are born with. It’s a skill that can be developed and learned if you have capable and motivated students.
As it’s been said, “When the student is ready the teacher will appear.”
Surprisingly, most organizations have far more capable and motivated students than they have good coaches, mentors and development programs.
In over 40 years of providing BD education, coaching, and professional development for both individuals and organizations, I’m continually surprised by those who do well in learning the thinking and process of BD. One thing you learn over time is that it is indeed easier to find diamonds in the rough than to try and put coal under pressure.
So the question is: “How do you identify the diamonds in the rough within your organization?”
The first step is to create a development plan that enables you to partner with them in providing a scholarship to learn professional BD that enhances both their professional value and that of the organization.
Successful graduates of our Certified Customer Engagement Professional™ (CCEP) program, and by successful I mean individuals that cannot only perform in the role but can also successfully mentor and coach others.
These professionals have all learned and internalized at a minimum the following characteristics:
First, they are secure and anchored in themselves. They have acquired a degree of personal maturity. They are anchored in a set of principles, values and ethics. They’ve matured to learn that life has both mission and purpose. They have a healthy, mature self- worth regardless of role performance; therefore, allowing them to see the role of BD as an opportunity to focus on the needs and problems of others as compared to needing to fulfill their own psychological needs. Business development is not a role in which people should need or want to prove their self-worth, validate their value system, or get their emotional needs met; it’s about focusing on the needs of customers and working within their value system.
Second, they are life-long learners. They have developed a natural curiosity about people, business and relationships; they are introspective about themselves and others. They have an innate interest in human and behavioral psychology; they know that understanding people, their motivations and behaviors is critical for success in a BD role. They know that their technical knowledge is most valuable when it’s applied within a behavioral psychology framework based on a customer’s personal needs and motivations.
Third, they have learned to get their psychological needs out of the way and focus on the customer’s needs.
No one is likely to be successful in BD by being the smartest person in the room. It’s the ability to allow the customer to be the smartest person and facilitating their buying your ideas for their reasons and not yours. The ability to understand other’s thinking and to get them to follow mutually beneficial outcomes for their reasons is far more valuable than being able to make a convincing intellectual presentation from your logic and way of thinking.
A wise BD coach once said, “BD is best understood as being a Broadway play played by a psychiatrist.” Getting customers to recognize their issues and challenges, to take ownership of those issues and to become motivated to invest resources in the solution, is key. CCEP Performers understand that individuals buy solutions for their reasons and for their own emotional satisfaction, not the seller’s.
Some may call this business development, while others call it stakeholder engagement, customer interface, or just human relations. Most roles within an organization require human interaction, and along with this is the need to communicate. This could be selling new ideas for solutions or better ways of doing things internally or selling the boss to send you to a conference.
For many of us, internal selling does not take place within a defined sales process. Does this make it any different to understanding a prospect and customer? Not really! It still requires understanding the other person; their needs and motivations. Focusing from their perspective will dramatically change the results you achieve.
Given this, everyone within an organization can benefit from education, coaching and a professional development program that help them better understand and work with others from their psychological perspectives. To achieve this you need to become a Purpose Driven Professional. We will discuss this in our next column.