Business Development Philosophy: The Art, Science and Synergy of BD
In the contracting world, one of the most underutilized functions is business development (BD). Although every contractor can sink their teeth into a viable project, a small minority grasp the challenging process of “acquiring the work”.
We want to educate, clarify and give credence to this valuable function. Business Development ignites a synergy with key functions such as estimating, project management, finances, and field operations. The Business Developer is a catalyst to move things forward, make things happen, and bring resources to bear. They also act as a scout, providing intelligence for the local business landscape.
BD is both an art and a science. BD is an art because it deals with relationships, rapport, image-building, and strategic positioning in the marketplace. BD is a science because it quantifies the network of potential relationships into practical and measurable project opportunities. With these opportunities comes the rigorous teaming needed to meet the project requirements.
BD is the secret weapon that a contractor brings to the negotiating table to outmaneuver the competition. It is the people side of the business that makes up the dynamic culture of every best of class contractor. BD harnesses your firm’s talents, capabilities, and resources and brings them to focus outside the firm, thereby maximizing the growth potential of the company’s future.
Grading your Business Development
Many hard bid contractors are aware of the rut that they are in and the need to change direction in order to negotiate work. However, they are not sure how to go about it or how to make the paradigm shift.
Part of the problem stems from the fact that their culture and process of securing work is to get the plans and specs, estimate the project and hand in the lowest possible number on bid day.
The first step is to pre-qualify whether it is the right opportunity to begin with. Then if the management decides to move forward, there should be an intelligence gathering period with intention to start building trust, comfort and rapport.
The contractor is now thinking like a consultant, an ally, and a friend. This approach works well with the clients who prefer to negotiate with someone they trust. If it is difficult, then it tells you something about them.
The enclosed matrix will help you rate your ability to negotiate work. Think about each area and grade your firm from 0 (lowest) to 10 (highest). The total score reflects how much of a business development culture your organization possesses. Any score below a 60 reveals some planning and implementation is needed to progress toward being true business developers.