Business Development or Sales?

I have been working with a number of companies recently who have been having issues with the performance of their business development team – intentionally I did not call them their sales teams because therein lies the fundamental issue. Everyone is in sales to a greater or lesser extent, in the main most people don’t believe that and shy away as much as possible from anything vaguely sales related.

Specifically anyone that communicates with anyone else with the intention of influencing the other to do something for them is in sales.

A child that wants an ice cream, a Nintendo or simply to stay up late is in sales. A wife that wants to go out with the girls and needs to get either the husband to sit for the kids or employ a babysitter is in sales. A member of the IT department that needs access to all pc’s in your department while you are all at work to do an upgrade is in sales. Any politician is in sales (whether you like it or not).

So if sales is simply the art of influencing another person to do your bidding why then are we so petrified of it, why is it such a swear word? Simply because we are all afraid of rejection to the point that putting ourselves in a situation where rejection may occur makes us avoid it as much as possible. A classic example is telesales which has such a brutal reputation; this is only because you have to deal with 45 rejections before you get an opportunity, maybe more.

How much did it hurt as a child when you are told no to doing something – just a little – however the histrionics that happen far outweigh the severity of the situation. Wouldn’t it be great to have a ‘Hissy Fit’ every time someone declined an offer you made -(some of us do inside our heads), it might shorten your career in that role if you did.

Sales also has that obvious association with dodgy – the wide eyed used car salesman, the timeshare rep or the double glazing salesman. I remember when my late mother-in-law told a friend of ours when she started dating a salesman ‘you can never trust a salesman, it will never last’ – she said. I’m happy to report they got married fifteen years ago and are still getting along just fine.

There are those who are naturally more capable of taking knock backs than others, those with ‘thick skin’ they don’t appear to take it personally when someone turns them down. The message to you is simple – sales is the art of communication, without communication everything grinds to a halt – be that sharing knowledge or information or simply asking for a date to go to the cinema, wherever there is an alternative solution to the one you suggested you have to convince the other in some way – that is sales. Sales is all about asking, if you never ask you will never get an answer!

Going back to the questions raised with these companies I have been working with all responsibility for business development was abdicated and passed onto the sales team to succeed or fail on their own. The other departments did not share the business development needs of the business and this was where the issue lay. What might you say is the solution here – a change in culture is necessary to one where everyone works together at business development, helping and supporting each other.

Some of you might call that Utopia or even unachievable – I disagree the best companies large or small do this day in and day out without even thinking about it – so can you.

Build Your Business With The Help Of Business Development Consultants

The goal of every business is to grow and expand. Expansion can lead to higher profits, more employees and a greater valuation which means more wealth and better financial security for the owner. While the business owner or manager commonly is the most knowledgeable about the business’s operation and the markets it works in, an outside consultant can bring a new perspective to the situation and see opportunities and threats the owner does not. There are a few simple tips to getting the most benefit from business development consultants.

Choose Carefully

There are many consultants out there but few are probably right for your business. The most obvious suggestion is to choose someone who works in your particular industry. The restaurant, retail, medical and manufacturing industries, for example, all have consultants specializing in those fields. Look for someone not only familiar with your industry, but who is also knowledgeable about the scale at which your business operates. For example, a consultant who specializes in one-location retail outlets, may not be as able to provide assistance to an owner of a small chain of outlets. Most business development consultants will provide references and a complete background of their education and experience in the field as part of the application process.

Work with the Consultant

The business owner will need to spend whatever time the consultant deems necessary explaining the business and any goals the owner hopes to attain. The consultant will also want to review financial records, possibly watch staff in action, explore the business climate in the area and analyze the physical assets of the operation. This is not the time to be shy or withhold information. The consultant needs to know the good, the bad and the ugly about the operation. The consultant commonly presents a list of the information required and what facilities he or she will need to see as part of the preparation for the consultation.

Follow Through

Following the suggestions of the business development consultant may be difficult. This is especially true if the consultation suggests a major change in the operation of the business. It is natural for owners to resist a change to the business plan they have developed. While following the consultant’s suggestions is optional, it should always be seriously considered. Depending on the situation, the business development plan may require the participation of employees within the business. Working with the entire staff of the business may be necessary if the consultant’s plan requires a major change in operations.

Make a Plan, Work the Plan

Consultants don’t commonly write a completely new business plan aimed at developing or expanding the business. The owners and managers need to select the best components from the consultant’s plan and integrate them within the business’s operational plans. Some of the consultant’s suggestions may fix immediate issues while others might be long-term solutions. Integrating both into the business plan offers the best chance of success. In addition, changing financial conditions commonly require updates to business plans. In some cases, this may require another visit from the consultant. Long-term relationships with a business development consultant may save costs as the necessity for background research is reduced with each visit.

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.

How to Become a Business Development Executive?

A business development executive (BDE) plays an imperative role in the growth of a company. It is the job of a BDE to promote the product/service segment of the company. At some organisations, business development executives are also called sales executives. If you want to build a career as a business development executive, below career guide would ease your journey.

Some of the duties of a business development executive-
1) As a BDE, you would need to frequently interact with potential clients to establish new business relations.
2) It is the job of an executive to do market analysis. On the basis of these market reports, business strategies would be formulated.

Required education & qualifications
The stream in which you have completed your graduation doesn’t play a crucial role because students from all fields can apply for the job. Moreover, top-notch companies prefer to hire candidates who know two or more foreign languages. In fact, this is a kind of job where your soft skills would be more beneficial than your academic qualifications & degree.

It is advised to gain some good work experience in finance and management by pursuing a business-related course. If you want to work in a technical company then it is important to have some good technical background and sales experience in a particular field.

Some crucial skills
1) Excellent business knowledge
2) Good communication skills
3) Learner
4) Negotiable skills
5) Team player
6) Analytical ability

Scope of business development executive jobs
In the near future, there would be a great rise in the number of BDE job positions, especially in fast developing fields like online commerce and pharma. As more and more companies are vying for the online space, there would be a huge demand of business development executives who can help a company in expanding its online business.

The package
Typically, the salary structure of a business development executive includes basic pay and commission. The basic salary of a BDE can vary anywhere between Rs 2-3 lakh/annum. If you hit the target then you will also earn commission and incentives.

Where to look for BDE jobs in India?
The jobs are available throughout the country. However, there are few Indian cities, like Delhi, Gurgaon, Mumbai, Chandigarh, Bangalore, Chennai and Pune, where you can find booming job opportunities in diversified sectors. Various top-notch companies have opened their offices in these cities and therefore, there is a high demand of BDE in these areas.