Key responsibilities include:
- Pursuing as many new opportunities as possible.
- Developing customer relationships that facilitate discovering and researching new business opportunities.
- Becoming the expert on what the customer really wants.
- Helping to position the company to win.
- Gathering intelligence and making sure the proposal reflects it.
The Business Development Manager is expected to gather intelligence about the customer, the opportunity, and the competition that will be crucial to winning the opportunity. Any intelligence you gather that indicates an opportunity is not real or worth pursuing is just as valuable as the intelligence that makes that opportunity look good.
The Business Development Manager does most of his or her work before the RFP is released. Once the RFP is released, the customer may no longer be willing to talk, so the Business Development Manager must anticipate the questions that people will have during the proposal process and get the answers before the proposal even starts. When the RFP is released and people ask questions that you didn’t anticipate, the Business Development Manager will try to get answers. If the company has to proceed without answers, the Business Development Manager may be in the best position to guess what the answer should be.
When a Capture Manager is assigned, the Business Development Manager will help get the Capture Manager up to speed on the opportunity, customer, and competitive environment. The Capture Manager will continue to need input and to take advantage of your customer relationship throughout the process.
When the proposal phase begins, the Business Development Manager should personally make sure that the proposal reflects what the customer wants and what you know about the competition. The Business Development Manager’s knowledge about the opportunity, customer, and competitive environment should go well beyond what is in the RFP and is vital — no one else may have that insight. Business Development Managers rarely take a writing role in a proposal effort, but they should make sure that those who do have writing assignments take into account everything they know about the opportunity, the customer, and the competition. The proposal that does the best job of speaking to what the customer actually wants (regardless of what it says in the RFP) is the one that is most likely to win. The Business Development Manager’s job is to give the company that edge.
Preparing the proposal will require addressing many, many tradeoffs. The Business Development Manager’s understanding of the customer’s preferences should be used to help the team make the decisions the customer would prefer. The Business Development Manager should participate in the strategy sessions to offer this insight, and should review the proposal and make sure that it speaks to what the customer really wants. The Business Development Manager may need to coach the proposal team and give them the information they need to make sure that the right story makes it into print. If it doesn’t, then all of the careful positioning and work may have zero impact on whether your company wins the opportunity.