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.

Why Many Business Development Titles Create Motion and Activity With No Progress and Results

The title of business development adorns many of those 3″ x 2-1/2″ paper documents passed out at all those business networking events from chamber of commerce meetings to ribbon cuttings to open houses to more formal meetings. Yet what does this title really mean and more importantly what are the results from these 2 simple words?

First, what does the word business really mean? Webster’s New World Dictionary refers the reader to the Anglo Saxon word of bisignes and to look up the word busy. The first definition of this word, “busy,” means active at work.

Now the word development comes from the word develop which has Latin and Old French origins. This word means to wrap apart. Looking at the first definition it means to cause to become gradually fuller, larger, better, etc.

From these two words, it is a plain as apple pie that everyone in every organization wears this title whether it is written on the calling card or not. From the dock workers, to the front line supervisors, to the receptionist to anyone at the C-Suite level, all are in roles to be busy and with the goal to become larger or better.

Titles should be more specific to each employee’s job responsibility. For example, there exist some people within the organization whose major role is to be extra busy and to expand growth specifically through this one goal – increase sales. These individuals are called salespersons. Other specific roles include customer service representative, human resource specialist to shipping manager. Again business development is presumed within each of these titles. What is not presumed is their unique role within the organization and how that role helps to achieve a specific goal necessary to keep the firm leading forward or productive.

So if your business or organization wishes to experience revenue growth, then make sure that the title reflects the specific role of that person. By taking this action, you will increase sales and provide the opportunity for everyone to share in even greater results.

Remember it is easy enough to confuse motion with progress and activity with results. The title whatever it is should not add to that confusion.

Making New Business Development a Priority – You Wouldn’t Ignore Accounting, Would You?

Everybody’s in Sales

Business development should always be a priority, but it’s especially important for organizations that don’t have a sales force. In my opinion, everybody within an organization is in sales, because every touch-point with the outside world is an impression that you leave and an opportunity to sell. Too many times I have encountered a culture where business development was viewed as something that someone had to do (begrudgingly) and nobody took ownership. Somebody within your organization has to own sales and business development. This person needs to understand the process, or be able to hire somebody who does. Talking to somebody at an airport bar while waiting for a flight is one way to plug your business, but how many times can you do that? We need to think of business development as something that is replicable and that could be continued even if people leave the organization.

Set Up Systems

My opinion is that, if you get hit by a bus tomorrow and nobody can continue your job, because there is no system in place, you don’t really have a business. Warren Buffet once said “you need to set up a system for your organization that an idiot can run, because at one day that will happen” (check out the quote!).

Systems are used for engineering, IT, production, or accounting. Nobody would expect a company to not have an accounting system but it’s highly common for companies to live without any system when it comes to sales. That is when I developed the blueprint of “Selling & Dating” and how the two compare. It’s a humorous way of looking at the process, but if one follows the steps sales becomes more transparent.

Selling is a Process

That’s probably why most people are afraid of sales, because there is no guidelines, no blueprint. Hiring somebody who is charismatic is very often an option that is chosen. But charisma only takes you so far. Sales really is a process and once everyone in the organization understands that, it will be a lot easier to follow. There is this fear of selling, almost a disdain where sales is viewed as a practice where we have to persuade another person to buy something that they really need or like. Once we shift that mindset and understand that as long as we meet a need that another person has, it’s so much easier to embrace selling.

In my opinion, the fear and reluctance to selling stems from the fact that we are not taught to do it in a process oriented way. “Just pick up the phone and pitch our business”, seems to be the advice that many people are given, especially in smaller organizations. Once you have developed an ideal prospect profile and you know that what you are offering is something that your target will need, you can be structured in your approach and have a conversation rather than a sales chat.

Trust me, it works every single time.

Never forget those 3!

When developing the benefits to your audiences, always remember to develop messaging that helps them get their attention. If you have read my blog you will remember that people buy because you can help them:

  • Make money and/or
  • Save money or time and/or
  • Improve their reputation internally

Business Development Certificate – Steps to Earning a Certificate

Many people are now turning to online courses to supplement their current business knowledge. This includes earning a business development certificate, which is a credential that is beneficial in a variety of different sectors. Whether you are working in sales, public relations, event planning, or any other different areas of the business world, you will want to be sure that your knowledge and skills are up to date with what is going on in the market today. This type of certificate can be earned completely online, from the comfort of your own home, which makes it a convenient option for the business professional or home executive.

The first step to achieving your business development certificate is to attend the online courses, and do the required reading. This will give you all the knowledge that you need to study for the eventual exam at the end of the course’s progression. During the course itself you will be under the supervision of your qualified instructor, who is able to facilitate discussions, and ensure that any questions that you may have will be answered. Some homework or discussion questions may need to be completed before attending online seminars, to help facilitate this level of group discussion.

After the coursework part of the business development certificate course has been completed, the next step is then to start studying for the exam. There is an official business development exam that all professionals are required to take to receive this credential. All of the information that you need to know will have been already covered within the online coursework and reading material that you have already covered during the initial five months of the course study. However, it’s recommended to go over it again on your own time just as a refresher course, to be sure that you are able to pass the exam without problems.

On exam day, you will then need to complete the questions that are asked, and possibly write an essay in some courses. At the completion of this exam, if you have answered an adequate amount of questions correctly, you will then be awarded the official business development certificate. This will then let you go on to have access to a wider range of opportunities, including the possibility to advance further within your own business, but also to find a new company to work for. Any added credentials are always a good idea to be competitive in today’s job market.