The New Realities of Business Development

Our new reality requires fresh approaches to the way we plan to win business

Traditionally, companies expect business developers to maintain strong relationships with customers, use those relationships to forge the basis for winning proposals, and over the course of multiple proposals meet the company’s annual growth targets. To fill business jobs, companies look for candidates with 10-15 years of experience developing business for specific Government agencies, who also have market research and capture expertise. Business developers typically have little contact with technical teams on the project besides the project manager and a few technical leads.

Unfortunately, many companies fire their business developers every two years if they do not meet business growth targets, The company then proceeds to hire another candidate with similar qualifications and use the same paradigm to develop business. What’s wrong with this picture? Now, let’s compound this picture with five ways the digital transformation and COVID have transformed business development with customers.

  1. Many customers work from home making it more difficult to sustain contacts
  2. Customers use web platforms like Zoom, WebEx, or Teams to interact with us, they usually have meetings stacked one top of each other, and we are lucky to get 30 minutes to talk with them
  3. An increasing number of customers use digital media to find answers to questions rather than relying on meetings with business developers or account managers
  4. The Big Resignation has caused considerable turnover in Government and contractor staff ranks, resulting in a loss of contacts
  5. An increasing number of Baby Boomers are retiring from Government and corporate ranks also causing a loss of contacts and knowledge

Adjusting to the New Reality

So how can a business adjust to the new reality and still meet its business targets given this paradigm?

  1. Loss of customer contacts
    1. Identify which project managers and technical staff maintain trusted relationships with Government customers including the Contracting Officers, Contracting Officer’s Representatives, stakeholders, vendors, and end users
    2. Train them how to collect information-to-win from in addition to how they can help win their recompletes and support new and organic business growth
  2. Limited meeting time
    1. Do your homework, don’t waste a single second of meeting time
    2. Understand the customer’s requirements, constraints, dependencies, and opportunities
    3. Train project managers and technical staff how to ask insightful questions, listen to the customer, and record their responses
    4. Leave a white paper or something of value behind to discuss with the customer at a follow up meeting
  3. Increasing Reliance on Digital Media
    1. Identify the digital media your customer uses
    2. Create compelling content to attract your customers
    3. Provide links to company contacts and additional information
    4. Use intelligent agents to deliver pop-ups in case customers miss your content
  4. Decreased Retention
    1. Take a holistic look at why the company is not meeting its targets
    2. Focus on retaining valued staff that help you win business
    3. Offer competitive retention benefits competitive compensation, career development and work/life balance opportunities
    4. Increase employee engagement to decrease flight
  5. Retirements and Succession Planning
    1. Hire retirees on a to support succession planning and business growth, as needed
    2. Use them to help provide overflow support, as needed

Our new reality requires fresh approaches to the way we plan to win business. Consider using any of the five strategies described above to increase your business growth. The Lohfeld Consulting Group Training offers classes that support business growth. Click on this link for details about the classes Professional Training – GOVCON | Lohfeld (lohfeldconsulting.com) to learn more about our classes that include Preparing Teams to Grow Business for Federal Contractors, Strength-Based Winning™ for Federal Contractors, and Modern Proposal Writing for Federal Contractors.

By Brenda Crist, Vice President at Lohfeld Consulting Group, MPA, CPP APMP Fellow

Lohfeld Consulting Group has proven results specializing in helping companies create winning captures and proposals.
As the premier capture and proposal services consulting firm focused exclusively on government markets, we provide expert assistance to government contractors in Capture Planning and Strategy, Proposal Management and Writing, Capture and Proposal Process and Infrastructure, and Training. In the last 3 years, we’ve supported over 550 proposals winning more than $170B for our clients—including the Top 10 government contractors. Lohfeld Consulting Group is your “go-to” capture and proposal source! Start winning by contacting us at www.lohfeldconsulting.com and join us on LinkedInFacebook, and Twitter.