Business Development Series Posted by David McDermott

In this research article we identify common mistakes made at each stage of the business development process. Critically, we also provide tips on best practice strategies at each stage.

The model below identifies an effective business development process. When each individual cog moves smoothly it allows the next cog in the process to turn and the whole machine picks up momentum!

Our proven approach to effective business development is based on research into highly successful business winning strategies and is specifically designed for those involved in high-value situations. If you are involved in business development, it’s important you apply the correct strategy at each stage to allow the cogs to turn.

We have identified the ten most common mistakes people make at each stage of the process and key pointers to keep those cogs turning.

edoMidas Business Development Process

Common mistake No.1
Failing to research your client in advance. This means that you will spend more time finding out factual information when you meet your prospect or client face-to-face e.g. How many locations are you based in? These questions waste time and do not add value to the client. Research in advance will also help you identify the correct questions to ask in advance of your meeting.
Key point: Research all the facts and possible needs in advance. We use a model called SECTOR that helps you identify important information, enabling you to identify areas where you can potentially add value.

Consulting To Win
Common mistake No.2
Failing to identify client problems, challenges and needs. Problems give rise to needs. Your clients will reject any proposals you make if they don’t perceive a problem and you have failed to help them identify a need.
Key point: Spend time finding out client challenges and problems first. Needs will follow. We use a questioning model that enables you to explore client challenges, problems and needs, many of which you can prepare in advance. Read our previously published article on Consultative Sales – Questioning Skills:

Common mistake No.3
Presenting solutions too quickly. It is tempting when you have identified a problem to propose a solution immediately. It is unlikely your client is ready for this at this point. They need to think through implications first. Presenting solutions at this stage will only give rise to objections and provide reasons not to select you.
Key point: Explore implications and who else is affected by problems and challenges before presenting solutions.

Writing To Win
Common mistake No.4
Writing complex proposals full of jargon and long sentences with big words in the belief that readers will think the writer intelligent. They don’t, they have quite the opposite effect.
Key point: Write in plain English. Use active language and shorter sentences. Our Writing To Win approach also helps you write proposals from a client’s perspective. This makes your proposals easier to read and conveys trust.

Common mistake No.5
Pricing yourself too low so that you can get to the pitch. Remember this is your first attempt at negotiating. You can’t increase this later.
Key point: Fees should be high but credible at this phase.

Presenting To Win
Common mistake No.6
Talking too much about yourself, “We have offices all over the world”, “We have 1500 employees” etc.
Key point: Focus your presentation on your audience’s challenges, needs and requirements. The information gathered in the consulting phase is critical here. Ensure those presenting are aware of it. Using the edoMidas Presenting To Win SAFE™ model will enable you to deliver concise, compelling, credible presentations.

Common mistake No.7
Failing to answer questions to the satisfaction of the audience. This is particularly the case when there is a team involved. Often answers are too long and team members interrupt and even contradict each other.
Key point: Decide who will answer questions on each area of the pitch in advance. Keep answers short. Plan your approach and avoid turning the process into a free for all.

Negotiating To Win-Win
Common mistake No.8
Conceding without trading. One of the golden rules of negotiations is to trade and not simply give concessions. Always get something in return.
Key point: To do this effectively you need to know your levers (something that costs you less than the value the other party ascribes to it). Learn key negotiating skills and use the edoMidas Negotiating To Win – Win approach.

Common mistake No.9
Settling easy issues early. This means that as the negotiation progresses only the difficult ones are left. In the absence of anything less contentious to talk about, the tone and atmosphere of the negotiation can become less positive and the difficult issues become more and more intractable.
Key point: Agreement on easy issues should be conditional e.g. “We would certainly consider that so long as we can agree on the fee structure”.

Value add
Common mistake No.10
Failing to demonstrate that you are adding value over and above your agreed terms. What is the point if the client doesn’t know?
Key point: Have regular reviews and demonstrate value added activities.

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