People are not enough for business development

Is your company’s ability to develop business based on people or processes? Many companies assume that all they need to do is hire the right salesperson and then wait for the money to start pouring in.

They think that if they hold monthly meetings for their sales staff to tell them what they’ve been up to, they have a process. They might even prepare an agenda for the meeting, use a standard PowerPoint template, and require reports to be submitted. But that is not a process. That is just trusting people to do the right thing with a little collaboration thrown in.

If that was sufficient, there would be no need for any processes or quality methodologies.

But how do you turn relationship marketing into a process, let alone a process that can be quantified? Most people assume that you can’t. But they give up too easily.

Business development is really about developing an information advantage. The information you see can be itemized and the information you obtain can be measured. Progress can be quantified. More importantly, results can be validated and correlated with the desired outcome. Companies that do this have a process for business development.

The reason they have a process is that it enables good, solid, trustworthy people to perform at their full potential. When you do this in business development it produces a competitive advantage. Companies that have a good process for business development have a competitive advantage over companies that hire good people and leave them to do their thing.

So how do you create a process for your business development efforts? Start by:

See also:
Assessing and filling your business opportunity pipeline
  • Itemizing the information you need in order to scope, price, and win a proposal
  • Bringing structure to the period between lead identification and RFP release that monitors whether you have obtained this information
  • Quantifying how much information you have obtained and its quality through a review process
  • After measuring your progress, comparing how the results correlate with your win rate for past pursuits

The key elements in a business development process are:

  • The itemized list of information you seek
  • The structure you create for the pre-RFP pursuit
  • The review process and grading system
  • Turning review results into metrics

The success of the effort will be determined by how well you convert the information you gather into an awareness of what it will take to win that can guide the development of the proposal.

In our case we created a process that we call Readiness Reviews. They take the questions, goals, and action items needed to discover what it will take to win and allocate them to a series of reviews. The result enables you to measure your progress towards developing an information advantage so that you are ready to win at RFP release. A full off-the-shelf set of documentation for implementing it comes with PropLIBRARY. You can use it, or you can follow the same approach to build your own. Here’s a hint: Start with what it takes to prepare a winning proposal and work backwards. For each item you identify, ask yourself what you need in order to get it. Allocate the results to a series of reviews and create a grading system.

If you do an exceptional job of it, what you create will inspire your sales staff and help them remember everything to ask the customer or that they need to do. It will carry the results forward so that they are assessed and transformed into what you need to win the proposal. Instead of making extra work and imposing structure, it can help your staff be more successful.


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Carl Dickson

Carl is the Founder and President of CapturePlanning.com and PropLIBRARY

Carl is an expert at winning in writing. The materials he has published have helped millions of people develop business and write better proposals. Carl is also a prolific author, frequent speaker, trainer, and consultant and can be reached at carl.dickson@captureplanning.com. To find out more about him, you can also connect with Carl on LinkedIn.

Click here to learn how to engage Carl as a consultant.

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In addition to PropLIBRARY's online resources, we also provide full-service consulting for when you're ready to engage one of our experts.

It all starts with a conversation. You can contact us by clicking the button to send us a message, or by calling 1-800-848-1563.


One of our consulting services shows your company how to quantify what you need to do to successfully grow your business. We can show you mathematically how much effort is required at each phase and what has the biggest impact on revenue. It clarifies your goals, budgets, and how to allocate resources. Understanding your pipeline can turn business development from an art into a science. It all starts with a conversation. Use the Proposal Help Desk to ask us about how we do pipeline assessments.