How to Grow Your Business Development Capability

When you are a small business or a brand new department in a larger company, you might start as one person who is responsible for winning government contracts. This is not a problem-you can join the ranks of many who have started at one point or another and are still the only one writing proposals, even as their company has grown to a nice size and they have the capital to afford professionals. We once met the CEO of a 1,200-person business who still was the company’s best proposal writer-he had a 99 percent win rate. (He’d lock himself in a hotel room for a week at a time with a few six packs.) It was possible because the company was focused on a single set of offerings and wrote for the same set of customers.

Many companies reach a point at which they have to start maturing and growing their business development, capture, and proposal capability. It usually happens when they have a constant volume of bids and they are looking for a more efficient way to develop proposals and win consistently. They want to scale up, grow aggressively, and create a true business development engine.

If you are a small company or a small department within a large company, the next phase of the business development team, beyond just you, could consist of one or two people, with technical personnel roped in as needed for subject matter expertise. This formula works when this team has to go after a handful of bids a year, but as you start growing aggressively and you need to crank out four, five, or ten proposals a month, you have to figure out how to scale intelligently.

Your goal is to add the right staff at the right time – be they internal resources or external.

Internal-resources hiring has to be timed to make business sense. First, you have to determine your current and desired proposal volume per month, and staff your organization at 75 percent of the expected throughput. If your proposal volume is lower than one proposal per month, it’s smarter to use consultants for larger bids, and write smaller bids in-house, burning the midnight oil.

When you go after proposals that you must win, hire real consulting professionals. The temptation is to go cheaper on the hourly rate, but if you are just starting to build your capability, you need experts-even if you bring them in just to outline your proposal, and review it mid-process. If you are obsessed with the hourly rate, you may save money on the wages, but may lose even more money and time if you don’t win, or have to rewrite what they have done. Proposal consultants will run you on average $150/hour-some will charge more and some a little less.

After you bring in your internal Business Development manager to find opportunities, and hire a Capture Manager, you may need to bring in an internal proposal manager.

Your next set of hires will likely include a writer and an all-in-one desktop publisher/technical editor/graphic artist. Your technical writer will write and edit proposal sections, while working closely with the SMEs. Your jack-of-all-trades person will serve three roles at once:

Professional graphic artist to transform your graphic concepts into professional-looking, attractive graphics
Editor to ensure your proposals are error-free and polished
Desktop publisher to format your documents for professional appearance
You will need to involve your SMEs in the proposal process as much as possible after you train them in proposal writing. This way, you will be able to cut down on the amount of work you have to do personally as the designated business developer – and reduce your resource costs.

As you grow larger, you may bring in a Price Strategist; a Pricer; a professional Contracts Manager to help you navigate the intricacies of the FAR and other customer requirements and lead your customer negotiations; a Procurement Manager to help you negotiate and manage teaming arrangements and subcontracting agreements; and even a PTW expert to make your bids more competitive from the price standpoint.

Successful companies are careful in adding all these overhead positions, and they don’t try to do everything in-house. They perform careful financial analysis taking all costs into consideration, and use a mix of internal staff and consultants. They bring in external resources for:

Surges
Special expertise
New ideas
Staff mentoring

You will need to carefully track your staff’s performance and efficiency. You will need to decide how efficient and effective they are in their win rates and throughput, and either develop or replace them. Develop a relationship with a trusted consulting firm such as OST, and have the resources on tap when and where you need them.

What Is Business Development and Why It’s Vital?

Business development is simply a broad term that is used in the process of reinforcing ties with existing customers/clients as well as luring clients in various areas of the consumer market. To accomplish this objective, professional development usually crosses conventional barriers between marketing, sales, operations, management and customer care in order to ensure that this process is promoted on more than one level. In order words, business development expert should be able to demonstrate a high degree of competence in a variety of areas in order to clearly spot and take advantage of growth opportunities.

Assessing the present assets of a business as they relate to the expansion and the maintenance of the company is one of the initial aspects of business development. The professional development experts will then work pretty closely with marketing and sales specialist in order to identify the level of penetration already benefitted by the business in various areas of the consumer base.

Business development experts will at the same also work with customer care experts in order to evaluate the feedback that have been gathered from existing customers on the perception of the business and the products and or services it offers. This particular activity can most times spot ways to refine present sales and marketing practices in order to get a larger share of the consumers in sectors where the presence of the company is already felt. The information gotten through customer care contacts might help in identifying applications for a new product line and could even help in capturing new customers – that is, if the product is marketed well.

It is very vital to note that successful professional development experts do not focus only on boosting sales or just keeping current clients or customers happy. Agreed, those aspects are also a strong part of the total picture, business development experts will also be ensure that they make the best use of the businesses resources, improving the process and role of management and a variety of departments and attend to any legalities that should be monitored as the business continue to grow. In a lot of companies, this will provide the professional development expert a lot of authority to seek information from everywhere in the corporate structure and also control every area of company function.

Business development processes can be applied to virtually any corporate establishment. Even small businesses will require this kind of activity to remain in business and to achieve growth over a period of time. Most times, including at least one individual who will have the job of focusing on the various activities of business development will make it possible to get the big picture of the organization that is difficult for individuals with responsibility for particular functions with the company to attain without assistance.

Professional development may actually take place by simply creating a section or department of the business that will carryout these functions. Business owners can also seek the help of a business development consultant in order to assess present circumstances and spot strategies for future growth.

Business Development Strategies That Work

As a manager, one of the foremost concerns to an organization is developing and exploiting business opportunities that are presented to you and your company. In order to grow, you need good knowledge and best management practices and strategies. It comes to down to whether as a business development manager, you are revolutionary or evolutionary. Any strategy that you undertake, no matter how small or insignificant it may seem will revolutionize your company or will evolve it.

Successful business development takes a multi-disciplinary approach in that it involves financial, advertising and legal skills. It is not enough to reduce activities to a simple template that can be applied to all situations faced by real-world enterprises. Being creative in this regard goes a long way in ensuring that any new and unforeseen challenges contribute to sustainable growth of a company rather than its demise.

There are several areas where business development strategies can help your organization to grow and succeed. Development strategies based on a strategic marketing plan for example will address a changing customer base and market dynamics, help one to understand horizontal and vertical target market opportunities and how to develop the right products, services and solutions to meet the target market needs. This plan should not just be an accident. Most successful business owners will tell you that a carefully planned business strategy was involved. A plan can take either a ‘bottom up’ approach or a ‘top down’ approach. A bottom up approach is where the employees make suggestions and the best are passed up the management while the top down approach is where top managers create the business development strategies and implement them down the chain of command. Another approach is the use of collaborative process where managers and employees work together.

In order for a business development strategy to work, you will need to evaluate its weaknesses, strengths, risks and growth potential. If possible, a strategy consultant may be included. Several factors will need to be taken into consideration, depending on the complexities that come with implementation. These include assigning responsibilities, sufficient resources and establishing a chain of command. A timeline will also need to be developed to evaluate if the desired goals are being achieved. Obviously, no one type of business development strategy is going to work for every business. Find out what works for you and your organization and the benefits of sticking to it.

Business Development – The Priority That Often Isn’t and 3 Keys to Fixing This

Often it seems that there just aren’t enough hours in the day. Although this is a problem that most can relate to, it is especially costly for business owners. For those who write their own paycheck, the situation is like a catch 22. Without investing time in pursuit of business development, things will stay as they are. However, although business development takes time and won’t immediately contribute to your bank account, it is essential for being in control of the direction your business is going and proactively creating your future. Let’s look at 3 keys for making progress in your own business development, even when your schedule is full.

Schedule Blocks of time

The first step is to set aside time to focus on the fundamental task of shaping the future of your business. Even an hour a week will be a step in the right direction. Ideally you’re investing 4 – 8 hours each week in business development, but you’ve got to walk before you run, so start by picking a number that is realistic for you and your situation. Even more important than the number of hours you devote, is the consistency with which you do this. Don’t put this off until the end of the day when your energy is low and your mind is tired; schedule this business development time for when you will be fresh and alert.

Develop a business development plan

During your first scheduled time reserved for business development, create your game plan. It doesn’t have to be perfect – there will be lots of opportunity to tweak it as you go along. The most important thing here is that you have something you are working toward. This gives your effort focus and direction, which when coupled with the consistency from step one, will give you momentum.

Delegate / outsource the routine

The key to increasing your business is that you take a proactive approach to creating your future. As you devote more time to business development, you will gain momentum. Devoting more time is not about just adding more hours of work into your day – chances are you’re already close to maxed out. Investing increasing amounts of time in developing your business is about delegating and outsourcing the routine tasks that you are performing now, but that someone else can do for you. By reallocating your time from doing the easy to delegate tasks, to doing the development work that only you can do, your business will grow to match your vision for it.

Investing time regularly in pursuit of developing your business is essential to creating a future that is better than today. There are many Business Development activities out there. Which ones will you pursue first? What block of time in your schedule will you set aside to work on this? What have you done previously (or currently) that worked that you will do more of?