It’s easy to differentiate between winners and losers in the business development world. The losers usually plunge the responsibility and accountability into the junior ranks to avoid the hassle of the work as well as the contamination when a bid is unsuccessful. The successful ones ensure that a member of the senior management team is accountable for each opportunity.
Instead of viewing writing proposals as an irritant and a disruption in their day-to-day operations they see it as important strategic work and give it the attention that it deserves. They don’t sit back and expect to win a major contract due to their reputation but make sure that they are well covered across the four phases of the business development performance cycle.
The best have a clear view on the portfolio of contract work that is right for them and are eyeing up new opportunities as well as renewals from years out. They assess each prospect individually, get a clear understanding of their requirements and then begin to shape their offer and adapt their business model in order to deliver. They do this in the years and months leading up to the competition. They won’t win everything, but they’ll win more than their fair share of the work on offer.
They have regular meetings and routines baked into their business development process so that the opportunity is always visible and doesn’t slip off the agenda and lose momentum.
3. Don’t Use Side lined Personnel
Many companies push the responsibility of putting proposals together towards either new and inexperienced hires or else those who have been side lined. It shouldn’t be a surprise when they produce sub-standard material and are unable to elicit the support of subject matter experts within and without the organisation. These people are often passive request takers who have no interest in challenging and building the cross-organisational tension required in order to produce contract-winning solutions.
4. Team Focus
The best realise that there is a wide range of skill and capability required to land the big contracts. I’ve seen organisations call on their best project managers to coordinate major bids. They seek out their best writers in order to ensure that the messaging is well presented, clear and easily understood. They call on their best designers to produce products and services that play to their strengths while hitting the prospect’s sweet spot. They know that all of these skills can never reside in one person.
They manage the tension between the creative and financial sides of the house so that there is a fair element of give and take, and one side isn’t seen as always having the upper hand. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen finance shut down a pursuit because of a lack of imagination along with a lack of stomach for collaboration.
The work involved in winning new business is too important to leave to chance. It needs to be carefully planned and managed over the medium to long term and overseen by people who view it strategically.
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