Here are six reasons why business development in the professional services and technology markets is changing. These changes are radical. If firms are to generate organic growth, gain competitive advantage and secure the sustainable income flows that allow them to flourish, then these issues need to be addressed. They can pose either an opportunity or a threat. One thing is certain – to ignore these changes is not an option. Equally “throwing the baby out with the bathwater” is not the way to succeed. We need to examine the way we have generated success in the past; review how these changes are affecting our clients and prospects; and make the changes needed for future success.
The six drivers of change in Business Development:
Firms will have to win and grow clients in a world that is volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. (VUCA) Many organisations still operate a model that hopes for a return to stability, to “normality”. But waiting for things to get back to normal will not work. The “new normal” is VUCA. Firms and clients will need to adapt to this VUCA world, and this presents threats, yes – but opportunities too.
- Low growth
Although the prognosis for global growth is strong, in the medium to long term we are likely to see an extended period of low/zero growth. If we want to grow faster than the predicted UK rate of max 2% growth, we will require a new approach to achieving organic growth.
- Buying behavior
Buying behavior, is changing but most sales organisations have not yet adapted to this. Some of these changes include:
- More structured approaches to procurement and the extension of procurement practices to areas such as services
- Increasing complex decision making (on average 6.8 people involved in a significant B2B purchasing decision in a 500 employee business (CEB))
- Greater knowledge available to buyers and a trend towards knowledge symmetry
- Increasing reliance of social media in identifying and selecting suppliers
Again the question is, Will these changes provide a threat or an opportunity for you? Mckinsey speak of how those who adapt well to these changes are able to look for a potential uplift of 20% in customer leads, 10% in new customers and a 20% improvement in the sales time lag.
- Digital capability
It’s clear that sales automation, social selling, even robotics are going to have a radical impact on selling behaviours and processes. Although the initial impact has been on B2C it is already impacting B2B. It is not appropriate to be “analogue sellers in a digital buying world.” Of course, there is still a need for highly professional, personal interaction; but it needs to be applied in a new context and to be integrated into an increasingly digital business environment.
- Customer centricity
Customer-centric business development is a critical success factor. It builds on existing models such as consultative selling, the challenger sale, value selling etc. but will need to go beyond these. The opportunity to develop professionals in customer-centric business development could be a significant differentiator and can tie into wider issues such as managing regulatory, reputational and commercial risk.
- Sales Learning
It is clear that the old model of rigid, intermittent, classroom based learning will continue to be replaced by a blended approach over an extended period and will involve a greater emphasis on workplace learning and mobile, just-in-time delivery.
When you put these 6 drivers for change together, there is a compelling reason to reflect, review and re-plan for a changing business world.