I’m going to go through my approach to working in this area. It’s important as it will give you a sense of my method, what it’s like to work with me and whether or not it’s right for you. If it is, well that’s great. If it’s not, well that’s great again as we are not going to waste each other’s time. I think someone important once said “you’re not for everyone, and that’s ok.”
So, without further ado, let’s go! Vamos! Allons nous! Lass uns anfangen! Ar aghaidh linn! You get the gist.
What is the Business Development Performance Cycle?
The business development performance cycle is a simple four phase approach to ensuring that you win, grow and renew enough of the right contracts so that you and your colleagues can stay in business and feed your families.
Like a bicycle chain, each phase is linked and reinforces the others. It’s a simple tool that makes it easy for me to assess how a business development team is performing.
Why I use it
One of the main reasons I use it is because over a 20-year consulting career I’ve observed that most of my clients – across a range of pursuits – tend to spend most of their time in an endless cycle of doing. They rarely take the time to prepare and don’t pause to learn from the experience.
In a business development context I’ve seen organisations get serious about winning business as soon as a request for proposal (RFP) hits their desk. Too late! They rally the troops, work late hours and eat junk food until they get the bid across the line. It leads to poor bids, demoralised staff with blotchy red faces from the stress and a hefty level of attrition.
Procurement competitions tend to be won in the months and years beforehand. Every now and again an organisation will hit a home run and stun everyone with a smash and grab, but these are few and far between.
You are not going to win every bid you go for – your competitors and clients will have something to say about that – but if you are consistent across the four phases you’ll win more than your share.
The Sports Analogy
I use sports analogies a lot. I love sport, though nowadays I prefer to take part as opposed to watching. I’ve spent the last decade having fun doing triathlons. Middle distance – 70.3, half-ironman – is my favourite format as it’s a challenge that I can fit in around my work schedule and personal life without getting burned out.
Obviously it’s not a good idea to try one of these without preparing for it. Let’s have a look at what’s involved in completing a half-ironman through the lens of the four-phase performance cycle.
In order to finish a race I spend two to three months building an aerobic base across the three disciplines – swim, bike and run. I’ll also do a lot of strength and conditioning work. This is the foundation of your fitness and the price of entry to racing triathlons.
Closer to the race – usually two months out – I focus and tailor my training to the actual demands of the race. This means that I’ll do longer distances as well as interval sessions that are focused on the half-iron distance and not the shorter sprint and Olympic distance formats.
If I’ve built the aerobic base and fine-tuned my training appropriately I shouldn’t have a problem finishing the race. If I attempt to complete a half-ironman on a sprint distance training programme I wouldn’t have enough in the tank to get home – and if I did I’d have an awful time and probably get injured.
Afterwards I review how I performed – there’s a wealth of information available these days through apps like Training Peaks, Strava and Garmin among many others. I’ll look at where I was weak – for me this is usually climbing hills on the bike – and I’ll research how I can improve this and incorporate it into my training for the next around.
Rinse and Repeat.
From this little analogy it should be obvious that good preparation and fine tuning are key to winning tenders.
How do I know how my team are performing across the cycle?
A great way to find out how you and your team are performing across each phase is to take this business development health check. It only takes a couple of minutes and will quickly provide insights into the strengths and weaknesses of your business development operation.
Otherwise have a look through any recent debriefing feedback, internal reviews or training needs analysis. There should be a treasure trove of material in there to help you.
Breaking down the work across the Business Development Performance Cycle
I will only work with you in the areas where you genuinely need help. It doesn’t make sense for me to spend a lot of time in the build phase if you already have solid foundations.
Here’s a look at the work involved:
This phase is the cornerstone of your business development function. It’s ideal if:
- You are a young organisation and are building a business development function
- You are an established business that is underperforming in procurement processes.
A comprehensive training programme that prepares your business development team to participate in public and private procurement competitions. Your team will learn about the key processes and tools required. For more information check out this post that tells you everything you need to know about the programme.
This is a business writing workshop that teaches you how to write clearly and with impact.
Build Your Team
This work focuses on building your business development team and – through the use of psychometrics – ensuring that the right people are in the right roles. It also concentrates on mobilising the appropriate team processes and practices.
Build Your Value Proposition
This results in the development of an attractive and relevant value proposition. It also focuses on building a foundation of marketing materials for use in future procurement competitions.
Those that take the time to listen to and educate their prospects are the ones that consistently bring home the bacon. The work in this phase is ideal if:
- You have firm business development foundations and want to calibrate your offer to the requirements of your prospect
- You are struggling to influence your prospect.
These workshops focus on the following:
- Developing a clear understanding of your prospect’s requirements and concerns
- Establishing where you stand relative to your competitors in the eyes of your prospect
- Fine-tuning your value proposition
- Developing a proposal strategy.
Ongoing support and training with key members of your business development team that focus on building influence with your prospect.
If you do the work at the build and tune phases the actual process of responding to the RFP will look after itself. The work here is ideal if:
- You are new to taking part in procurement competitions or have gaps in your business development foundations and need a guiding hand in completing a response
- You are experienced in responding to RFPs but want a third party to QA your work.
Bid Support / Proposal Writing
This involves writing the actual response. This is only on offer if there is a support structure already in place to manage and coordinate requests across the organisation and conduct administration tasks.
This involves making recommendations on response strategy as well as assessing the internal processes being used by the business development team and the quality of the material being produced.
Ongoing support and training with key members of your business development team that focuses on improving how they perform during the process.
Win, lose or draw you should always carry out a review. You’ll always learn from it and as the Gerry Rafferty song goes, “if you get it wrong, you’ll get it right next time.” The work in this phase is ideal if:
- You want an independent party to conduct a post-award debriefing with the client
- You wish to review your overall performance – process and proposal – after a particular procurement competition
- You want to conduct a full diagnostic on how your business development function and value proposition are performing.
Independent Client Debriefing
An independent debriefing with your client post-award in order to find out how they felt about your proposal. Click here for more on why it’s a good idea to use a third party for a debriefing.
Individual Proposal Review
A post-award analysis of the quality of the final submission as well as the performance of the business development team and the underlying process.
Business Development Diagnostic
An assessment of your recent submissions, current bid processes, materials and team in order to identify any gaps that may exist.
Value Proposition Review
A review of how your value proposition is performing in the marketplace.
So, what do I do next?
Well, if you like what you’ve seen so far you can click on the link below to arrange our first call.