It is becoming more evident that to be successful in the current business environment, you have to change the way you engage with your prospects. The Business Development processes and thinking that allowed many companies to do extremely well in the past are no longer working. These acquisition processes were predominantly reactive, waiting for the customer to identify their own needs and package them in an RFP. Many companies who won business during those times would admit they never even engaged in a dialogue with the customer. Winning business in this manner led many to believe that this was the best approach; in order to grow revenue you simply responded to more RFPs than your competitors.
In order to prosper in the changing economy with changing government acquisition policies, limited budgets and other constraints, it is now vital to begin your Business Development efforts early in the customer’s buying cycle. Those who engage early and work with the client to assist them in understanding their issues, needs and wants will continually win more business than those waiting for an RFP before utilizing their “proposal shop” to write another dazzling proposal.
Winners these days are those who plan their strategy, put in the hard work to assist their potential customers early and do as much as they can to ethically secure the win. You cannot force a person to buy, but you can improve your chances by gaining their trust and assisting them in understanding their issues and the available solutions (yours and others). This is the primary difference between a Business Development approach and a traditional sales approach. One focuses on identifying the prospect’s underlying needs and utilizes the skills and experience of the Business Developer to identify or develop the best solution. Traditional push-selling focuses less on the identification of needs and more on pushing a solution and then overcoming the client objections to that solution.