How do we measure progress? What constitutes ROI on what is plowed into business development efforts?

The practical challenge is that between the initial work necessary for productive business development efforts and any tangible signs of growth, it can be difficult to see the progress that is being made.

This is especially true if real progress calls for basic levels of culture change.

It is doubly tough to be patient when we address business development at moments when we are desperate to see immediate fruits from our efforts. Unable to see signs of growth in the short term, there is often a tendency to shift from one possible solution or strategy to the next.

By contrast, a successful strategy is one that has been in play long enough to be made up of a healthy blend of investments in the future, and past efforts that have created networks, solidified reputations, grown relationships and are delivering viable opportunities.

A Formula For Success

Build around silver bullets or new flavors of the month and you’ll probably rock along with the same level of biz dev success you’ve enjoyed. If you’re lucky (and some are), you’ll invest in the right area often enough to stay flat, or enjoy modest growth.

On the other hand, if you’re interested in designing a strategy that delivers marked organic growth from the investments you make in business development, consider these three principles.

  • Engage in smart targeting. Productive networks and strong relationships don’t just materialize from hope. Here are three characteristics of areas where your efforts can be most productive:
    • High consequence change
    • Shared affinity and/or aspirations
    • Relevant expertise and experience (personal or organizational)
  • Maintain focus. Turn your attention to business development only when its convenient or you have nothing else to do, and you’re not going to find much you can build upon. A pipeline of work develops in the context of on-going visibility, an awareness of capability and experience and realities of the market. Stay plugged into your efforts, or risk throwing your investment away.
  • Measure in this context. Target smart and maintain focus and you will have an appropriate framework for measuring effectiveness.

Productive biz dev isn’t about waiting forever, never taking stock, and constantly wondering about results. Quite to the contrary, build around a realistic and solid framework and you’ll begin to see something that may seem rare these days — new clients and organic growth.