What good looks like in business development

My two-part series on ‘Ten behaviours to empower your career in commercial propositions’ spurred an interesting discussion. A few asked ‘Ok, I demonstrate those behaviours and skills, would that qualify me for the job?’ and ‘Would these make me a strong business development manager?’.

Spot on. When I interview people for such roles and ask them for examples to elaborate on these behaviours, I ask myself the same questions – is having those skills enough, have you really practiced applying them in different situations?

What good looks like when working in business development

Here is my take on how a strong business development manager or commercial, proposition professional live those behaviours daily, with examples from the organisations I have operated in.

I am very interested to hear if you find them helpful and easy to practice in your business organisations!

Owner mindset, giving everything you got

You always act the champion of the project, product or the proposition. And you use your determination to deliver it.

What good looks like: You notice when there is discord or procedural delays and you use an appropriate level of energy to remove obstacles standing in the way of delivering the project.

Structured thinking, making things simple and clear

You are able to package up choices or options with clear pros/ cons and make a recommendation.

What good looks like: You tell a concise story relevant to the audience instead of telling the entire story that includes all issues. And you make it clear where subjective judgements have been made.

Also, you can quickly immerse in complex issues and become a “one day expert” versus leaving the complexity to others.

Financial skills, looking for the bottom line

As discussed before, a solid understanding of the relevant profit, revenue, cost drivers, and volume metrics is a hygiene factor for anyone doing business development and commercial propositions.

What good looks like: You can identify the “killer questions” that enable a reasonableness judgement.  Then you identify ways to objectively assess those killer questions.

Also, you make effective judgements on what is important and what is less so and on the back of that you make quick and effective “ball park” calculations to enable this.

A strong manager does not wait for the perfect information before making judgements on the options.

Drive and passion, setting the high standard and trying to improve

Irrespective to organisation size or complexity, a good manager needs to have deep understanding of the processes and people needed to get the business opportunity delivered.

What good looks like: You understand both the organisation’s strengths and its weaknesses and use this to shape the delivery approach (this is one of the examples I always seek to explore in candidates).

You proactively seek out critical success factors to deliver the proposition or the deal instead letting others do their jobs and hoping it all works out nicely.

Customers come first, and you are their champion

There are numerous internal barriers to project the voice of the customer, usually these are non-intentional, but very real! Examples are internal procedures, governance, regulatory demands, so making sure you marry organisational demands to the customers’ needs is an absolute must.

What good looks like: You proactively reach out to all functions (eg. Marketing, Sales, Finance, Delivery, Legal) to gain their input and ensure their needs are considered. Then, you ensure there are “no surprises”, which means lots of communication to make sure that different views are explicitly understood.

You are very confident in using this knowledge to request that other areas deliver, versus not making an explicit request to another area for fear of not having the authority to request.

Doing what you say you will do

People rarely enjoy being challenged, but in business development and propositions it is really the norm the opportunity to be internally debated and challenged until all sides agree this is the right thing to do. Welcome challenges from anyone that might help improve what you do!

What good looks like: You present the arguments in a balanced way that acknowledges legitimate views from all sides. Also, you probe to understand the views of others, to the extent that they can accurately articulate the facts.

And finally, you balance being fair and open minded with sticking to a strong argument  versus being afraid of confrontation.

What good behaviours look like in your practices? If you want to share tips and stories and lessons learned, please feel free to send me your comments.

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