Having a Spotter in Business Development

I recently watched Mark Wahlberg’s movie Shooter “again”. I really love this movie! In the movie Shooter, actor Mark Wahlberg’s character is a sniper and he lost his spotter. He died in a maneuver that went wrong. This spotter was the sniper’s good friend and military comrade. So, he recruited actor Mike Pena as his new spotter.

The movie reminds me of business development. You know, in business development, you really should not go it alone. There should be a business development team. The team would be responsible for finding new business opportunities, pitching the company’s products and services to ideal prospects, attending pre-bid meetings, attending trade conferences, drafting bid proposals, and attending competitive interviews for short-listed vendors that have responded to solicitations for bids.

For any one deal you are going after, it would be neat to have a spotter. In business development, it would be neat to have a spotter to tell you what is out there with respect to business competitive intelligence.

The spotter was the sniper’s look out man and he would advise the sniper by calling out sayings such as:

You’ve gotta get out of there!
Incoming… 2 o’clock!
They’re right in front of you!
They’re all over the place!

Not to make light of military maneuvers, but it would be really cool to have folks looking out for you in a similar way in business development settings like government agency pre-bid meetings or competitive pitch interviews. Your spotters could tell you what the prospects’ staff and what your competition is up to. This is known as competitive intelligence. If you are in there alone, you may miss out on what others hear and see with respect to business and development and business competitive intelligence.

In the Mark Wahlberg movie Shooter, my favorite line in the movie is when an elderly, retired sniper says:

“The world ain’t what it seems. The minute you think you got it figured, you’re wrong!”.

This is precisely why it is extremely important to have a business development team. The more intelligence you can gather about who your competition is, what your competition is saying and doing, what your competition is likely to do, the better you’ll be able to figure things out. Even if you cannot afford to hire someone full time, consider paying a consultant to show up and give you feedback on what she is hearing and seeing.

By Clovia Hamilton, MBA JD – President

Lemongrass Consulting Inc.

How Is Business Development an Important Factor for the Advancement of Business Initiatives?

The simplest and most direct way of describing what business development is all about is that, it is the initiatives and idea taken, discussed and put forth in order to make a certain business bigger and better.

This includes a lot of factors such as the steps taken in the expansion of business, planning strategies and implementing them, seeing where the profit lies and focusing it to grow further and making effective business decisions.

There is a lot of scope and concept and understanding that goes behind Business Development. It doesn’t happen in a day and with just one step taken.

Here are a certain fields where business development can be connected and made to bring in a change

1. Sales need the expansion if they need the advancement

The key function of someone in Sales is to prod upon a targeted client or a particular market which seems to be booming with prospects. Now the sales department makes certain strategies and focus on certain goals to assess these particular markets and see how the sales of that market can be achieved in a specified amount of time that can bring advantage to their field of work. The sales department keeps their main focus on the customer based in the targeted markets with their discussed strategies.

2. Marketing is for the ones with quick brains

Marketing is basically a smart and innovative way of advertising a certain product or a brand that would promote the sale of the same. When we come into the picture of Business development in these scenes, the ones with this initiative need to finalize on a certain budget. Higher the budgets, more effective and extravagant are the marketing strategy like making personal visits or phone calls. Lower budgets call for minimal sort of strategies such a limited newspaper advertisements. So here the Business development helps in allocating the budget based on the kind and level of profit the marketing team is looking for.

3. Cost effective moves for beneficial grounds

A lot of people might conclude that this kind of development is only about promoting sales and advertising marketing reach. But no, it involves a lot of cost saving measures as well. The strategic decisions that are taken need to include cost cutting measures to have a balanced step taken and not overdoing on the expenditure. Through all the new ideas and steps taken for the business development it ultimately aims in developing the business prospective.

Thus here we get a clear idea about how business development is linked with other career linked paths and how it is enabling their growth and advancement.

How Much Sales Is Involved With Business Development?

If you ask a group of people what they think business development is, you would most likely get a few different answers. There is even a chance that your own view of business development and sales may be used interchangeably.

Business development involves more of a strategic approach such as strategy, marketing, customer management, and partnerships; these activities encompass about 75%-80% of the approach, and sales about 20%-25%.

When I get asked the question, does business development have something to do with sales? Yes, it does. Is it related to business growth? Most definitely it does. Does it have anything to do with business strategy? There is a good chance it does.

Business development is a culmination of these different activities but most importantly, it’s all about shifting to the point of view of the client. This will provide you with that new perspective and will have you balance your efforts across these key activities that you and your client will both need and address. Whenever you conduct your business development efforts make sure to take the perspective from the client’s point of view and try to develop a deeper understanding of what their problem is. Realize that the client only cares about one thing and that’s their own group or company’s survival and the problem that they are facing. The client is only interested in you if they identify a need/problem or pain point that you can solve and provide a solution for it. It’s the kind of value that you can provide them that will enable them to consider your firm for the project.

If your firm’s approach is strictly from a sales perspective, generally, the economy of scale is to grow as large as you can. The strategy is to sell your product or service with a clear price and value directly to an identifiable individual client.

From a Business development perspective, the economy of scale is much smaller because the approach to your service is more strategic with the intent to create a partnership. It entails cultivating a relationship with the client and provide a service that could be more cyclical by working through existing partner infrastructures.

In my 14+ years of professional experience in management consulting, business development has been stretched to encompass a wider variety of activities with the intent to stay smaller in size. In its most traditional definition it is all about developing partnerships, which often includes some sales. Whereas, strictly sales are more transaction oriented where scalability is the differentiator.