Selecting a Business Development Professional – Are you hiring the right one?

The most challenging and costly aspect of running a small company is business development (BD). Many business owners have vast knowledge and expertise in their chosen specialty. However, this doesn’t mean that the knowledge and expertise offered will convert to revenue, that is – unless you have good relationships, and understand your market’s requirements, acquisition strategy and process. Unfortunately, many business owners don’t! Therefore, the challenge is, how to grow the business with minimum financial and human investments.

Many business owners, particularly government contractors, have hired business development professionals as employees, or 1099 consultants, only to find that after a year to 18 months, the return on the investment is zero. So you discard them, hire more, and get the same results. What’s the problem?

Company owners are sometimes under the illusion that a BD professional walks in the door with a “golden rolodex” that will yield revenue in the blink of an eye. The executive team must require the BD staff to follow a disciplined BD process, which is needed to provide structure to the hunt and capture activities. Let’s face it, as the business img-developmentdevelopment professional moves from one company to the next, the customer relationships they have may not be a fit for their new employer. So leveraging those existing relationships and introducing solution offerings of another company, will take time.

In addition to customer relationships and understanding the acquisition process, having a solid process for monitoring and tracking business development activities has proven to be financially rewarding. Developing a capture strategy is important. And then using the strategy is critical. Creating a plan, identifying milestones/activities to capture the business, and frequently reporting status and progress increases the probability of a win.

Having a process in place where all data concerning the capture of an opportunity is kept, and can be reviewed by those who have access, provides central intelligence to an organization. There should be no guessing about next steps, customer requirements/desires, who the influential players or decision makers are, the competition, or your company’s key discriminators. However, your BD professional should not be the only person in the organization who knows this valuable information. A good capture process will mitigate the risk of losing the company’s intellectual property upon departure of the BD professional.

A BD employment agreement is the single most important tool for communicating expectations, and monitoring and tracking the progress of performance and achievement. Establishing business and revenue attainment goals makes the job expectations very clear. Many large companies do this routinely. Please know, this will not eliminate predatory BD professionals, who coast from company to company annually, looking for a paycheck. But, it should give pause to hiring someone with this type of track record.

Hiring a BD professional should be based first on their recent accomplishments, and knowledge of the target market, to include: key contacts, mission, programs, the acquisition process, and the competition. There should be some knowledge of the company’s products, services and solutions, but these things can be learned along the way. It’s easier to learn solutions, than it is to learn the unique government acquisition process.

In the end, a business development professional must be responsible for achieving the business and revenue goals assigned, be a key contributor to the capture process, and be held accountable for revenue growth. This is when you begin to realize your return on investment.

This entry was posted by: Jane C. Smith

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