Business development is everyone’s job function, stated or not. How many of your employees have a “wake me up when the business development exercise is over” attitude?
Are you, as your company’s CEO, one of the guilty parties?
Startups and SMEs are particularly vulnerable to streaky, inconsistent business development initiatives. There is no pervasive, all-hands-on-deck culture of “everyone sells.” Startups want their pitches to be successful, so they can rest on their funding laurels and hire someone else to sell. After all, who went to college and earned their degree so they could get a job selling?
SMEs have some critical mass and cash flow behind them. Perhaps they are franchisees. Again, they are resting on their laurels of drafting off a well-known brand, or having a solid track record based on last year’s sales, which is projected to fuel their forward momentum this year.
How are these strategies working for you, realistically?
The uncomfortable truth is that business development remains part of everyone’s daily, as well as strategic, job function. Every conversation with suppliers, vendors, customers, employees, colleagues paves the way to build brand, image and reputation for your company.
There’s nothing random about those activities. You can’t decide to do them, solidly, for one day a week and hope to create a growth strategy for your company.
Why is it so difficult to incorporate business development into one’s job function? Perhaps the more important question is: what’s your motivation for manning the helm of your SME or startup? What are your employees’ motivations for working with you, aside from earning a paycheck or stock option?
If your goal is sustainability, your attitude can’t afford to be random.
There’s a tendency to bask in the glory of a won contract. If you are a SME or startup, you Sell (or Pitch) and then stop and Do. Your job function shifts into throughput and implementation, delivered by a small critical mass of employees or partners. You lose momentum in Doing what you’ve just been Selling. You know this. I know this. Yet you keep doing the same thing and expect that another contract is waiting for you once you’ve invoiced for those deliverables.
The reality is that you and your team start all over again.
Your job function, and everyone’s in your organization (even the receptionist and driver), is to be the marketplace vanguard for your company’s core capabilities. There’s nothing random about your mission.
Your job function is to Walk the Talk because you live it each day, not just when negative cash flow makes business development a priority once again.
Business development incorporates process and discipline into your job function. It’s an art that you continuously work towards mastering.
Never take your eyes off that Path. It’s the difference between positive and negative cash flow and your company’s sustainability.
Babette N. Ten Haken, President of Sales Aerobics for Engineers®, LLC, catalyzes business transition, startup growth, and professional development. She works with non-traditional sellers like engineers, manufacturers, and technical startups to create sustainable business models and revenue strategies. Learn how to incorporate business development into your job function in Do YOU Mean Business? available in soft cover and digital formats.