Recently we have been asking ourselves a lot about this question of how to handle business development; partly because it is something we have been thinking about as a business (how do we grow even faster?); and partly because through a weird confluence of conversations, so have several of our clients…
Our view, of course, is a going to be a compromise – why not do both? That way, you balance risk and reward and still grow.
In an ideal world, you have a team of account managers and client-facing staff who are highly sales-focused individuals, who love talking to existing and new customers. You also can afford to employ a new business team who have a deep understanding of your sector and clients and they are highly successful at setting up qualified and productive meetings…partly because they are brilliant, and partly because the business generates lots of collateral and material they can use to secure interest from potential clients
Usually what really happens is that you have a team of account managers and staff whose sales and business development skills are uneven – some like it, some hate it , some would do it but are too busy doing other stuff…
If you are lucky enough to have a new business team, and many businesses do not, they are sometimes highly utilised and sometimes, let’s face it, not really that productive or focused.
The overall result is a business that is not growing quickly enough, or which is sacrificing potential growth.
What should you do?
Where we see our clients and their competitors doing business development really well, they are addressing these issues in two ways:
- they are spending time and resource on deepening the account management and commercial skills of their staff, so they are more comfortable “selling”. Plus they are investing in material and content to give their account teams reasons to go and talk to their existing and potential clients. In this instance they are building their in-house capabilities with a long-term growth objectives in mind.
- they are investing in external business development support to drive growth, while they build the in-house capability. And the content and materials they are generating for their account teams is also the collateral that the external support can use to generate interest. This is using an outsourced service, but one that will generate short-term growth benefits to the business.
We like this model so much that we are going to be taking this approach to our own business development over the coming months, as well as helping our clients to do it…growth all round then?!