Leverage Your BD and PM Assets for Greater Growth Capacity

Business Development Leaders often ask the key question: “Who is responsible for growing revenue?” In order to answer that question, it is necessary to ask: who are the key players engaging with customers?

Business Development is a team activity. Different individuals within organizations are involved with Opportunity Identification and Qualification (OI&Q)i and, ultimately, submitting a winning bid. Business Development Leads and Project Managers play distinctly different revenue generation roles. One way to explain this is to understand the difference between up-selling and cross-selling.

Up-selling usually involves taking existing products and services to new or existing clients. Cross-selling involves taking existing or new products and services to new clients. Up-selling is typically handled by a person designated as a “shepherd” or a “farmer”. Cross-selling requires additional skill and is best suited to individuals who possess a “hunter” or a “warrior” mentality.

At the same time, it is also important to understand the differences between qualification and close. After all, qualifying an opportunity does not necessarily guarantee you will close the business.

Another way to understand the different revenue generation roles is to answer the question, “Is my BD focus ‘Up and Out’ or ‘Down and In'”? “Up and Out” focus is primarily external to the organization, intel gathering from customers, opportunity identification, etc. “Down and In” is primarily focused on internal organization needs (e.g., staffing, internal reporting, etc.).

If you were to examine a job description for a Project Manager, you will notice they are usually more Down and In, focused primarily on ensuring the project is staffed correctly, within budget and achieving the deliverable milestones. Their BD role is generally a secondary focus. For example, they may be accountable for retaining the contract (shepherding) or they might be tasked for growing revenue from the customer by up-selling (farming), which may involve introducing new products or services to the current customer. Occasionally, they will support the BD team in pursuing a new opportunity. They are usually the Subject Matter or Technical Expert who will manage the project after a successful bid. However, in the process of shepherding and farming additional business and up-selling, they have to understand how to close the business, which involves the facilitation of the decision-making process.

The hunter or warrior is Up and Out and focuses on (OI&Q)i. The Business Development Lead in this role typically drives intel gathering and usually has control of the close of business.

Project Managers are often so Down and In focused that they avoid their Up and Out BD responsibilities. The majority see themselves as shepherds, at best, tending to their current customers with little or no role in assisting their organization achieve their revenue goals. In some circumstances, the Project Managers associate so closely with their customers that they refuse to engage in any Business Development activity with them at all for fear of losing their objectivity.

It is all about an individual’s psychological perspective. People who see the environment from a position of abundance tend to be good at opportunity identification, gathering of intel and disqualifying opportunities early. Those who view it from a position of scarcity are less likely to be able to qualify well and drive decisions. They also avoid getting NOs early.

Project Managers are vital intel gatherers and are often the first point of contact when a new problem arises with a customer. For this reason, Project Managers who are trained to ask the right questions and then channel the intel back to the organization are invaluable. When you consider that the ratio of Project Managers to Business Development Leads is frequently five to one, it makes smart business sense to provide additional education and professional development to Project Managers. In companies with a strong Business Development Culture, where they invest in Customer Engagement training for the Project Manager, you frequently see Project Managers that are able to up-sell or have the ability to lead or actively support the BD team in cross-selling, this is rarely seen in companies that have a predominantly engineering culture

In order to maximize the value of Business Development Leads and Project Managers, it is necessary to understand an employee’s psychological mindset, their degree of flexibility, and where their interest lies. With this understanding, you can lead a collaborative team that can close business by up-selling or cross-selling.