Working On vs. In the Business – Six Thoughts for your Staff

Situation:  The Company created five customer-centered divisions headed by Business Development Managers (BDMs) who oversee project management as well as business development in their markets. A year after implementation, the BDMs are more focused on managing their teams than on developing new business. How can we enhance focus on business development?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • Your BDMs are technicians; business development (BD) isn’t their strength.
    • People gravitate toward important/urgent activities in their comfort zone.
  • Supplement your staff with people who have a proven talent for business development.
    • You may not need 5 people – 2 or 3 may be sufficient to support the BDMs.
  • What if our customers demand technical expertise in business development personnel?
    • Make category expertise a requirement when hiring, in addition to experience in BD.
    • There are specific traits that characterize successful BD personnel. Specify these traits in your hiring process and verify these abilities in candidates both by testing for these traits and through reference checks. The Sandler Organization has good tests for BD talent.
  • The BDMs are responsible for coordinating bidding and pricing. Should this responsibility be handed over to the new BD personnel?
    • Not completely. You have two options.
  • Require BD personnel to coordinate with the BDMs when it comes to pricing and project delivery, and/or
  • If you determine that the BD personnel need to be able to negotiate pricing on their own, tie their commission compensation 100% to margin on projects bid.

Key Words: Sales, Business Development, Customer-Centered Organization, Hiring Requirements, Hiring Selection, Collaborative Sales, Compensation 

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