TOOLS FOR SUCCESS — LEADERSHIP IN BUSINESS DEVELOPMENTOctober 2006
However, education and training for business development management in graphic communications tends to be more self-taught than academic. It’s my opinion that not one graphic communications academic institution offers anything of substance regarding business development and marketing.
Individuals who excel in our industry as business development leaders tend to come from other disciplines, having demonstrated professional leadership and management qualities that top senior management recognize is needed (and too often missing) in their own business development ranks.
What are the duties and profile of a successful business development leader? Here’s a beginning outline from which I suggest you pick and choose, as the issue “fits” your organization’s needs.
Suggested Professional Profile and Duties:
If someone asked me what qualities I’d look for in a business development leader, I’d probably offer three: (1) profound curiosity, (2) an extreme work ethic, and (3) the discipline to personally perform and communicate the importance of excellence in pedestrian activities—in order to create “continuous improvement.” Without those three qualities, and especially in hard times—when the best of personnel is needed—I can’t see a business development professional succeeding.
Options for creating a tapestry of support for ensuring “holistic” performance improvement:
1) Ongoing review of the profile—deciphering who values your company most, who does not, and why. Most organizations do not have a written profile of who to pursue, and who to avoid, and why. Yet, every week sales personnel are pursuing business development with both current and new accounts. In today’s oversupplied customer markets, most organizations would steadily improve their performance results if they pursued the organizations that value them most, instead of primarily those organizations that a sales rep can “quickly sell” in order to make a commission to pay their personal bills.
If developing an organization’s market differentiation were ever important, it is critically and strategically important today. “Elevated perceived customer value” tends to drive predictability of future work and margins. Customers who fit your preferred customer profile, based on your ability to deliver elevated value, can be invaluable from many perspectives in hard times.
2) Capture and frequent review of all customer complaints. This is an organizational issue, and not just a sales team issue. Customer complaints may be voiced to delivery drivers, accounting, prepress—and even suppliers, to name but four areas, in addition to your sales reps, CSRs, receptionists and estimators. A monthly, summary review of complaints can be revealing to where there are recurring problems and limitations that are holding other resources back from performing at their best.