Is My Business Development Person Any Good?

Great question isn’t it? How do you evaluate whether the person that’s responsible for the growth of your sales efforts is effective or not? If you are the individual responsible for this in your firm, time to measure yourself. As I consult contractors I spend a great deal of time evaluating current personnel. I consistently see patterns that damage the corporate sales effort. Employees that are in charge of developing new business are routinely violating basic sales practices. The biggest issue is balancing being out with the clients with taking care of office work. This is HUGE! The office can be a tar pit that sucks even good outside personnel in to a mire of spontaneous meetings, phone calls or paperwork. The best place to develop business is out with the client base.

Consulting clients often ask me how much time their reps should spend in their week out with customers. Well, though there are variances, a minimum is 60%. Yup! 60%! I’ll bet for some of you that seems unrealistic. Then you need to read on as this article is for you. The best at developing business understand the systems and limitations of their employers. They adjust and attack. They push the boundaries internally and can sometimes break some furniture along the way. But, they produce. They’re constantly out of the office, probably spend more money than you’d like with clients and expect your internal people to jump through hoops . Perfect. Easy going, follow the rules, calm, congenial people are usually also non or under producers. There are really only two indicators of a good business development rep, #1. Activity and #2. Production. I see time and time again under performing personnel sucking up company funds and holding their position because of excuses. The economy’s bad, clients aren’t buying, the opportunity pool has shrunk or competitors are bidding too low. Good personnel are still cranking in this economy. They strategize and adjust to go after different customers, different services and new network contacts.

Now is when the “Gunner” thrives. He or she will run right over competitors and clamp on to clients like a pit bull on a pant leg! They will make every association meeting, happy hour, networking event, or place where potential customers are gathering. I have little patience for the folks who sit back and throw stones at the producers and their pushy, aggressive techniques. Que sera, sera attitudes are not for a competitive business climate. Think I’m being harsh? Just wait, there’s more.

Some business development personnel do juuuuuust enough to give the impression they’re really working it. The final measure is production. I’ll give a push to someone new to an industry or company of about 90 to 120 days. Then I want to see some results. If not I’d cut my losses and find new blood. I promise I’m not a hatchet man! I’m a realist and why have someone ineffective in such a key position? They’re worried, you’re disappointed and the clients don’t perceive the value of this individual’s representation.

Some people win a couple of projects and they are exalted. Well, I subscribe to the Janet Jackson measuring philosophy, “What have you done for me lately…?” (For some of you too young to remember that song take a trip to internet and look it up.) Good business development personnel always produce, great ones are always exceeding expectations.

Now, one point on behalf of my fellow reps scowling at me. To ownership and management; Pay the person that produces or lose them. Incentivize production and reward success. It is somewhat unethical to promise compensation for increased production and whittle away that bonus with conditions. Result? Disgruntled employee that entertains offers from competitors. Don’t doubt it for a second. I’ve seen it a gazillion times. The management may be successful in the short term in retaining the talent but the rep is searching the day after they’ve been wronged. Been there, seen it, done it! Take care of the people that produce and don’t let them go. Don’t let them hold you hostage either but don’t give them cause for defecting. I truly believe the number one reason a player leaves his current company is false compensation promises. Usually a mere $10,000.00 bump in annual income can steal a gunner away under these circumstances. I know, I’ve stolen them!

The bottom line is you should expect results, maintain quality personnel and reward success. This will breed positive sales growth and competitive fire. Manage light handedly those that produce and dig deep into those that don’t. Pretty basic. Then again, if it was easy you wouldn’t be nodding your head through this piece!

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