IF BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT IS SO IMPORTANT AND FUNDAMENTAL, THEN WHY IS IT DIFFICULT TO ACHIEVE AND SO MANY BUSINESSES FAIL AT IT?
There are many situations that can hinder or interrupt business development efforts.
These situations range from internal, to external, to customer dynamics, to market and technology changes.
Many situations are within your own control and other situations are not.
These situations can hinder and disrupt your business development efforts.
After reviewing the following list of common business situations, you should have a new understanding about the dynamics of business development.
As companies and businesses downsize, the remaining staff do not have adequate time to be proactive and work on things that can expand their business.
They are busy just trying to keep up with the fundamental operational job responsibilities.
As the companies downsize more, they get even more overloaded with daily job duties and problems/issues to manage.
Meeting or talking with people who have products or services that can help their company/business grow, does not fit into their time that is available.
Basically, if you are not presently a key supplier to them, they will struggle to have time to meet with you to discuss any of your services or products that could help them increase sales, profits, become more productive, or help them reduce costs.
Even if you are a supplier to them, often they will not have time to meet with you since their time is dedicated to daily job functions.
Whatever time that is available is used to meet with people on resolving problem issues.
They are basically in a ’Fire Fighting’ mode which is rarely productive.
At times, companies downsize and then ask staff with lesser skill sets to do the responsibilities of the staff with the higher skill sets that is no longer with the company.
This puts the entire downsizing situation in more of a difficult position, as well.
Such staff will not have the skills or attitudes to work effectively with you.
This effects business development within such companies/businesses and creates difficulties on other businesses trying to do business with the downsized businesses as well.
If your company downsizes, this can hinder business development efforts due to lack of staff, lack of key supporters, lack of resources and lack of a financial budget available.
If you lose staff without a financial budget available for outsourcing some of the work, you will have to be very creative to get the work done with less staff.
“Rotten apples in the barrel” situation can be a problem.
This is a saying to illustrate that if you place one rotten apple in a barrel of good apples, the other good apples will turn bad quickly.
If a department or business has an individual that is a ‘Nay Sayer’ that is someone who is always commenting on why they should do not do anything or change anything or progress forward, this can hold others back to support changes and advancements.
These ‘Nay Sayers’ or ‘Rotten Apples’ often lack adequate skills and have poor attitudes.
If they are in key or influencing positions, this makes it all the worse.
This can affect a business internally as well as externally.
A ‘Nay Sayer’ or ‘Rotten Apple” can be holding your company and business development efforts back internally.
It will also hinder you at those other companies/businesses who you may be trying to grow business with but they too have these types of individuals.
Companies may be outsourcing some of their operations and needs.
This can be good and it may also be bad for you.
If their outsourcing strategy and requirements encompass needing your service or product offering, this can be good.
Often, these outsourcing entities are on a business contract based on aggressive pricing and slim profit margins.
Their efforts are directed at doing the work, in the fastest time, the most economically, to fulfill their contract.
If your services or products will help them accomplish this, you may have some common ground for discussions.
If the outsource identity is the ‘gate keeper’ so to say, in that you need to gain their support before the targeted account or customer will be interested in working with your products or services; they may not be motivated to work with you since they are focusing strictly on meeting their contract commitments at the lowest cost.
Spending time and effort with you may be a side issue and not important to them.
If they are located overseas which they often are, communication and geographic barriers may hinder your efforts.
Companies and businesses that are closing their operations to move to a new location off shore and out of the country, this can affect your business development efforts especially if all of their departments and staff that you need to work with, gets displaced as well.
Geographical, cultural, and communications barriers can be very challenging.
These can hinder developing a business relationship.
Company mergers and buy outs can hinder your efforts both internally and externally.
For your targeted potential customers and clients, there will be new individuals to work with and develop new business relationships.
Until any reorganization is completed, the current key contacts may not be willing to move forward with your services or products.
Resources and budgets may get re-allocated.
Business and operational strategies can change.
If your company/business is the one being merged or bought out, you may not have the support and resources to move forward on business development efforts.
Add to this that with mergers and buy outs, key influencers and decision makers often change and you may have to develop new business relationships.
These new individuals may have less skill sets and possibly have poor business attitudes; or they may have more skills and better business attitudes that will champion your offering of services and products.
Any time, the key contacts in targeted accounts can change.
Key contacts can be ‘gate keepers’, ‘influencers’, ‘advisors’, or ‘decision makers’.
This will affect your business development efforts; sometimes for the good and sometimes it can hinder.
New business relationships have to be established and done so quickly.
You then hope that these new contacts do not bring with them personal relationships with your competitors.
Targeting key potential accounts should always be part of a business development program.
Any time that key supporters or key staff within your business development effort or program internally changes, this can have affects, as well.
When key senior management supporters of business development leaves, until the new replacements have proved themselves as supporters, your efforts could be hindered.
When key team members with good skills and experience transition out, you have to be concerned about replacing them with equal or better quickly.
You do not want the good business relationships with customers or potential customers to be effected.
If the individual that transitioned out had good skill sets and experience, and had good relationships with key clients and customers, you certainly hope that they do not move to your competitor.
Staff with good skills, good work ethics, and being reliable is an important resource of any business or company.
It is critical to attract and retain staff of this quality.
‘Nepotism’ can hinder business development.
Nepotism as can be found in a dictionary is, “favoritism or getting a job or position due to kinship and being a relative”.
Skills and experience is important for successful business development efforts.
To be part of a business development team or to manage or have influence over such a business development effort, one must have significant business development skills and experience.
Businesses should not allow Nepotism to interfere with business development nor should they displace skilled staff with relatives of lesser skill sets and experience for the sake of nepotism.
Senior management changes can affect business development efforts.
Often, new senior managers will want to bring in their own team and staff that they have experience with and a comfort level.
Current staff may then be transitioned out.
This affects you internally as well with your target accounts that are doing the same.
When this occurs with your customers or target accounts you will need to develop new business relationships and hope that they do not have close relationships with your competitors.
When this happens in your own company, you or other staff may be transitioned out.
An effective business development program needs a reward system in place to support progress and results.
Rewarding good behavior, accomplishments, successes, and results is fundamental to encourage continuing such progress.
Some senior management with poor attitudes and a lack of skills can view business development staff’s effort as mandatory just to keep their job and that reward system are not needed.
Companies with such management often have a high staff turnover rate.
When this is known in their markets, they cannot attract or retain highly skilled staff.
If customers are aware of this situation, they will often restrict how much business that they will do with such companies and actually move some potential business to companies that have a better reputation with their employees.
Positioning a company or business for sale, could hinder or it can have a positive affect.
It hinders if this means a cut back on resources, budgets, staffing, and efforts for business development.
It can be positive if it means allocating more resources, budgets, and staffing to drive business up to help make the company more valuable in such a sale.
Technology obsolescence hinders.
If the service or products that you are selling or promoting become obsolete with competition having better, your business development efforts will have limited success.
If you are trying to sell products or services that are obsolete; your efforts in business development may have limited results.
Message courier services were replaced by teletype machines that were replaced by fax machines, which in turn are being replaced by computers and the internet Email.
Technology and market change and evolve.
Business development parallels technology advancements and changes in the markets.
Technology as it relates to a company’s ability to produce products or offer services will hinder business development.
Competition with newer equipment to produce better quality products or service at lower prices will certainly put you at a disadvantage if you lack such capabilities.
If a business has primarily services as their product, a lack of staff with high skill sets, extensive experience, and abilities can hinder.
There is a thin line between being successful at being specialized and just not having enough capabilities to attract customers and clients to grow the business.
To be able to offer more expertise and service, you may need to partner up with others in some business arrangement to broaden the service offering.
Legal offices and attorneys, often use this approach.
The door that you walk through may have several names on the door but they may be independent attorneys sharing the rent and overhead payments.
Each one may have a specialty that each attorney can refer clients to internally.
But as a group or firm, they offer a broad rand of services and expertise.
Some physicians specialize in their expertise but other physicians and medical centers are often referring patients to them.
This funneling of patients to such specialists helps make such a specialize practice successful.
If your products or services are highly specialized, you will want your business development program to focus on obtaining some strategic alliances that can refer business to you or utilize your offering within their business, some how.
If a business or company loses some key customers and accounts with sales and profit revenues decreasing, this can have a negative or a positive impact.
If resources and budgets for business development are cut, this would hinder.
It would be positive, if more resources and budgets are dedicated for business development to get some new customers or clients to make up for the customers that were just lost.
A business development professional may encounter the ‘Invasion of a Germ or Virus’ situation.
This can hinder business development efforts.
The typical scenario of this ‘Invasion of a Germ or Virus” is when a professional of this level is brought into the company and other staff views this person as infringing on their protected turf and they themselves have been passed over.
They view this new person as a germ or virus that they need to rally all of the available antibodies in the company to help fight off this invasion.
Individuals that have been with the company or business for a period of time that has such feelings will be resentful and find ways to sabotage efforts and often make negative comments about the new staff and efforts.
These individuals that feel passed over and imposed on, will rally any internal support possible for their cause.
This can undermine the business development efforts as well as management’s and staff’s confidence in the professional, and the business development plan and efforts.
When I was younger, I believed that such individuals that feel passed over will change if you only work with them closely, often ask for their ideas and help, and go out to lunch and dinner with them, to win them over.
Often I heard about and actually saw many times, new senior management staff coming into a company or business, and in the first 30-60 days transitioning numerous management and supervisory staff totally out of the company.
Yes, these other managers and supervisors were let go and terminated for one reason or the other.
I always heard the common words “the manager is cleaning house to bring in his own people and his own blood.”
I often thought that this was so wrong to do and that the senior manager was a terrible individual.
Now that I am older, more experienced, and supposedly wiser; I now can see some truth and value in such an approach.
The individuals that feel passed over and imposed on, rarely feel better about the situation until they have won the battle no matter what they have to do.
My advice for business development professionals considering a position with a new company or business, or considering consulting or project work; this situation needs to be addressed in the preliminary meetings with senior management.
You need to identify the potential problems up front before starting; and come to an agreement with senior management on how this will be handled swiftly without hesitation.
Strategic alliances are often the biggest contributors of sales and profits.
Business development efforts must focus on this to produce the significant sales and profits that companies and businesses are seeking.
Strategic alliances can be businesses or companies that use significant amounts of your products or services, packages it with their product or service offerings, resells it, or refers business and customers to you.
Typically, strategic alliances can account for a large percentage of your total sales and profits.
Results from obtaining strategic alliances needs to be measured and used as internal PR. This will validate the worth of business development efforts and the need to possibly allocate more resources and budgets to the effort.
Having a focus on strategic alliances as part of the business development program will be effective in producing the results needed which in turn substantiates the reason to support and continue a business development program.
Without good results in obtaining strategic alliances, business development programs will be in jeopardy of not being supported adequately.
False expectations can doom business development programs.
Cleaning up internal messes, developing marketing communications, researching target accounts and markets, organizing internally, completing so many important business development tasks and details, all takes time and much work.
Add to this the time and effort to focus some business development efforts on establishing relationships with new accounts and new strategic alliances, and you can see why management can easily have false expectations of results expected within a particular time frame.
No matter how long a business development program needs, the bottom line will always be increased sales and profits, quickly.
This is why I emphasize the need to incorporate a major focus within the business development efforts to seek out new key accounts and new strategic alliances.
This is the fastest method or strategy to obtain increased sales and profit results.
The business reality is that such fast results are needed to obtain or keep senior management support for business development programs and efforts.
Now that you have reviewed this list of business situations that can affect a business development plan and efforts, you may be feeling stressed or wondering how any business development program can survive.
Many of these situations can be managed.
You should always be on the lookout for all of these situations with contingency plans ready to implement when such happens.
All of these situations are heard about frequently from friends, acquaintances, family members, business associates, seminars, trainings, school, radio, and television.
You can read about these situations regularly in the newspapers, magazines, and the internet.
Yes all of these situations occur regularly.
Be alert to them, watch for them, be prepared, and be ready to respond immediately with contingency plans and actions.