Building world-class Business Development Capability

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Building world-class Business Development Capability

Small is beautiful…but you must have aligned outsourced capability.

What are the golden rules for building a world class business development team in a professional services firm?

  1. Keep it tight. A small team who are completely aligned to the firm’s strategy and who self start.
  2. Hire for attitude and then train for skill…this was Ritz Carlton’s mantra and works a treat.
  3. Get your BD team entwined in the delivery of the client experience. Pitching, research to test new ideas, auditing service delivery and providing consulting services to improve clients own performance are all keys to this.
  4. Empower people and give lots of freedom…flexible working, allow innovation to flourish, get them out of the office.
  5. Select a handful of key outsourced suppliers that buy into the strategy. Alignment here again is key.

Having now had over 20 years of experience building really capable teams the above set of rules seem obvious really. That said, the last year has seen a start of a shift in the approach in the market more generally.

Business Development talent is rare in the professional services arena. A bit like good lawyers, accountants, design engineers the trick is to be able to leverage your skills. That is why those who can coach and transfer behavioural attributes to their fee earning colleagues are the real value adders.  The twin track of leveraging ones skills through coaching and behavioural change that sticks and outsourcing things such as market analysis, client feedback and pitch production will set your small team up on a route to success.

This then allows two things to flow. First you can hire and pay at the top levels. Second the team is also much better received by the fee earning community. Why you might ask? Well small is always more beautiful in a tough market. If you are seen to coach and transfer skills as well and spend substantial time helping clients your credibility rockets.

The other key to this is the market trend towards outsourcing. Whether it is Barclays, 3i or Linklaters, the cutting edge businesses have embraced the core vs chore mentality and move work around the world to take advantage of time zones and cost bases. It also is, wrongly, assumed that you need to be a big business with 10,000’s of employees to take advantage of this. That is no longer true.

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