Mapping a Strong Business Development Process to suit your business
Mapping a Strong Business Development Process map to suit your business
Mapping a business development process is an essential part of any business strategy that is required to enable you to grow your business. Investing in a quality business development specialist will limit the return on investment if you don’t have a business development process to facilitate it.
In today’s dynamic business world, creating a value proposition and exploiting it with your customer requires an open focus to business. No longer can you sustain growth just through sales. Business today must be looking outside the box for ways and means to add value and drive growth.
In this article, I will look at why a business development process is critical and give some substance to the downsides of failing to have a business development process. As you will see a failure to get this right can lead to you not growing your business, but also shrinking it as well!
Having looked at the downsides I will explain where a business development process fits into your business strategy and how they become reliant and interlinked with each other. I will also provide some framework for understanding some of the business factors you need to consider when mapping your business development process.
As in every aspect of the business, it’s important that you have some performance indicators to enable you to assess the success and failure of the process how a regular assessment of what’s working and not working can help you fine-tune your business development process.
Getting it right will lead to very positive upsides, success. So, let’s get started!
The downsides of not having a business development process
A desire to grow your business is a natural mindset to either enable your business to survive, or to increase the earnings and profit of the organisation, returning value to any investors linked to the business.
But growth, especially unplanned growth can bring significant risk to a business. Business development brings even more risk with it. Why? Because business development isn’t an alternative means of building sales, it’s a means of creating a framework to develop sales. And that means change.
Change for your customer, and very importantly, change for you. Without a business development process, the downsides are that you will expose yourself to situations as diverse as draining your cash flow through investments in stock or infrastructure changes. Damaging staff morale and losing key members of staff and impacting upon existing operations that lead to a loss of sales to customers. All of which damage your reputation and standing with your customers now and possibly into the future.
Not having a business development process reveals a lack of planning and awareness of what’s involved, and the damage can be disastrous, like sky-diving and not checking to see if your parachute is there.
As was drummed into me a long time ago, failing to plan is planning to fail.
The business development process, step 1 on the strategic action plan
In a recent article I laid out the process of creating a business strategy and for me, the business development process forms step 1 within the coherent actions that are the ‘how’ when it comes to your business strategy.
Within your diagnosis and guiding policy, you are likely to have framed business development as a critical part of achieving the growth objectives you have laid out. By this I mean I will have expected you to have assessed the current business operations and identified a need or opportunity to grow the business. For example, this could be that sales are only growing at minimal levels and the business needs to find new products or routes to market.
The guiding policy defines the overview of how this will be achieved. Part of this overview could be the recruitment of a business development specialist or a more focused approach from a product development perspective.
The great thing about building a business strategy in this way is that enables you to clearly identify what you know to be true and your planning process starts to evolve in a logical manner.
Coherent actions are the steps you will follow to achieve your business growth goal and I firmly believe that these actions are the most important part of the business strategy, but also the most overlooked.
Let’s look at some of the factors that you need to consider when creating coherent actions.
What factors should you consider?
A business development process needs to consider a few variables within your business and I will attempt to look at them here. This isn’t a definitive guide as every business is unique, however, I hope that this helps you understand the principles you need to apply.
· Who is likely to be affected by the implementation of a successful business development acquisition?
The very quick answer to this is…Everyone!
But, as always, the devil is in the detail and to me, it’s very important that you don’t ignore this due to the simplicity of the answer. Everyone has a part to play when it comes to winning and implementing a business development proposal.
So firstly, I would set out to make everyone understand that the business is open to new clients and projects and that will mean change. Not everyone will like it, especially if they aren’t prepared for it.
Secondly, consider current workloads, does the business have the capacity to bring in more work. How will you manage this? New staff, or re-structuring current operations.
· What is the cost & operational implications of bringing a new business development client to the business?
New products or services will cost your business before you are able to sell those products and services and get a return. You should be forecasting these costs into the cash flow forecast, so you can be clear you can afford the up-front costs.
Operational implications do relate to the first point I made, but I would suggest that any form of manufacturing or production that your business undertakes needs to be looked carefully to understand the impact of a business development acquisition.
An overload of work on an operational process can damage production or supply of the products or services you are already selling, and whatever the business development acquisition is it should over and above existing business.
These are very top-level questions but as you start to answer them, so you will begin to appreciate the dynamics that are at play. The business development process is fundamentally about preparing the business for a change.
There is no I in team…
A business development process will need every single member of your team to play their part in achieving the goals of your business strategy and utilising the business development process.
Yes, I’m sure you will have a business development specialist in place, but if he or she is any good they will know that they are just a cog in the wheel of a successful business development process.
It’s a point I can’t emphasise enough, every department, every manager and every team member have a part to play if business development is going to be used to grow the business.
KPI’s and assessing performance
The business development process is meaningless if you don’t measure and assess progress against some forecasted targets or goals. Business strategies by their very nature have long-term goals attached to them and often this is an increase in revenue. If you wait until the end of the year before checking to see if you have hit the goal you might have a nasty surprise waiting for you.
KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) allow you to define a set of measurement points that allow you to gauge the performance of the process you have put in place. Each KPI should be checking performance against an objective timeframe and a stated goal.
As your business development process evolves through its various stages, you can assess actual performance against forecasted performance. This will give you key insights to show whether the business development process is working.
Changing the business development process
With a clear KPI structure in place, you can assess the performance and the progress of the business development process. If your business strategy planning and implementation of the business development process has been effective, and all the key elements are working to plan then your KPI’s should be looking very healthy.
If your KPI’s are glowing red, rather than gold then something isn’t working. That creates the need to look closely at the weakness in the business development process. The key questions you need to answer are what isn’t working and why isn’t it working.
Once you understand the answers to those questions you then need to make decisions about what to do about it. This is where your leadership and management skills need to come into play.
Is it a subprocess that’s failing, or is it one of the team members not achieving what’s required? Can coaching correct it or does it need change?
These are the tough questions every business owner, director or manager faces, but it’s the vital ingredient in a strong business development process. Without change, the business development process part of your business strategy will fail and with it so will the strategy.
Having clear and timely KPI’s embedded within your business development process ensures that you have the time and the capacity to change things and enable your business strategy to be achieved.
The upside of mapping a business development process
With all the hard work that has gone into a strong business development process, it’s worth taking the time to look at what happens when you get the process right and you start to see the upsides.
Upsides are first that you have a happy and engaged team. Having a strong business development process and ethos means that everyone knows the part they play in the process with every outcome considered. Human nature is such that we desire stability and dislike uncertainty, so the business development process is a big positive.
Potential customers are also driven by human nature, they want to feel needed and know that they are a part of the process. There positive experiences cascade to others, that’s the simple dynamic of network effects.
Critically, a strong business development process brings success. It delivers growth to your business enabling to create new revenues and further develop and grow your business.
Conclusion? Prepare for change.
A strong business development process is such an important tool to have when it comes to growing your business outside of traditional sales. It offers a means to create action within the strategy in business that you have created.
The business development process that I have defined empowers you to actively engage with your team and prepare correctly for the changes you will need to make to meet the challenges of bringing in new business via business development and using a business development specialist.
Getting this part wrong can cause significant downsides and bring risk to your business. The risk is always a part of the business, but by having a strong business development process in place should enable you to minimise or negate the risk entirely.
Fundamentally using a business development process will cause your business to change, and you shouldn’t fear that at all. Standing still is a failure in business and by using the business development process I have defined you will be able to overcome this successfully.
What does your business development process look like?
Originally published at www.developingyourbusiness.co.uk.