Through 35 years of service to companies ranging in size from start-ups to the Fortune 50 I’ve found that the one thread binding them all together is the never ending pursuit of a greater return on the money they spend on business development. Some give up and accept mediocrity thinking that’s the best they can do. Others have obtained a higher level of return but know they could do better if only… They’ve all spent time and money treating symptoms with processes, training and tools that represent a generic approach that tries to address the most common problems of the most common companies. They fall prey to the latest management fads but nothing seems to last beyond the initial euphoria of something new. Like a child with a new toy, once the shine wears off things pretty much return to the same old patterns and process with the same old problems.
Often the reason companies find themselves in this never ending quagmire is that no one ever thinks of examining the fundamentals or bothers to identify the root cause of their dissatisfaction. More often than not the real reason for the dissatisfaction is that the company has forgotten why it exists. It was never instilled in the staff and was never embraced as a way of life.
Every business is built on three basic cornerstones: the core (which consists of all the fundamentals like mission, vision and values), the people, and the systems, processes and tools necessary to enable the people to accomplish those items in the core. When operating in unison the company is in for a smooth ride. Now imagine the three cornerstones form a wheel. It’s easy to see that if any one of the three is out of alignment, the ride is no longer smooth.
To bring this back to business and, in particular, business development, every decision made or action taken, that doesn’t reflect the business core, forces the wheel out of alignment. It follows that if an account rep doesn’t really know the company’s mission, vision and values, and if they don’t know the company’s goals or their place in achieving those goals you may end up pursuing an opportunity that you don’t really understand. It won’t really fit and the problems associated with being in this position ripples throughout the organization.
How do you prevent falling into this trap, how do you stay focused? To start, from day one company fundamentals should be drilled into every employee and they have to become a living part of day-to-day life. The number one question that needs to be asked before committing to a business opportunity is “How will this opportunity put the company closer to living the mission, vision and values” followed by “how will this opportunity help us meet our current and future goals”?
Those opportunities that fit your model are worthy of your time and money; those that don’t open the door to trouble.