Grow Without Growing Pains: The Importance of a Business Development Platform

The Big Question:

How do we avoid heightened complexity and the disjointed allocation of resources in an expanding marketing environment?

A blueprint for consistent processes, tools, and performance-management systems in the form of a business development platform.

Seems relatively simple, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, it isn’t. All too frequently, responses to expansion undermine consistency, coordination, insight, and decision making. Marketing and Sales can’t seem to achieve proper integration. New brand, channel and segment groups focus on increasingly disparate parts of the market.

Why Should You Care?

If the obvious lack of cohesion and direction isn’t enough to concern you (it should be, by the way), consider the severity of other unintended consequences:

  • Reduced sales yield
  • Channel conflict
  • Rising customer acquisition costs
  • Inefficient pipeline
  • Inability to allocate marketing dollars consistently
  • Lower ROI

 

Still Unconvinced?

Take the example of a PLM software company dealing with three aspects of expansion:

  1. The commoditization of their flagship product where transaction price has plummeted from $110,000 to $45,000 in 18 months and the launch of a new enterprise-wide solution with a target transaction price of $500K.
  2. The increased importance and proliferation of VAR channels.
  3. Web expansion by the competition and the end-user community.

As could be anticipated, the company’s responses were reactionary and disconnected.

By launching a new brand, a variety of different segmentation strategies, and an increased emphasis on selling at the CXO level vs. traditional product development management, several layers of complexity were added to its marketing efforts.

 

The Result:

The PLM software company in question diluted the brand, resulting in a steep revenue drop, reduced market cap and eventually a new Senior Management team.

Unfortunately, in the example above, as is so often true, the consequences could have been easily avoided had the proper business development platform been in place.

 

Solving The Problem:

A business development platform– is a blueprint for consistent sales and business development in the two or three functional areas.  The areas in which you choose to focus (such as value proposition, price –performance, brand positioning, market segments, channel strategy, and major account management) should be those most closely linked with your company’s strategic priorities.

Most business development platforms have four well-integrated components:

  • Consistent processes that incorporate principles of LEAN and 6-Sigma to enable best-in-class performance and an optimized business development model.
  • Leading-edge tools and frameworks to guide decision making.
  • Clear responsibilities, skill requirements, and talent development for sales and business development professionals in pivotal roles.
  • Consistent metrics and performance-management systems that reinforce the organization’s processes, methodologies, and talent management.

 

The Big Answer:

I know this all sounds obvious; it seems like I’m merely highlighting the standard attributes of any well-functioning business development and sales organization. Realistically though, effective business development platforms are far from common and even more difficult to put in place. Tools don’t work without clarifying decision-making standards.  Redesigned processes are useless if not linked to measurable outcomes that matter to customers.

There are many layers to consider, but the fact remains: the best way to avoid the unattractive consequences of expansion is to have a proper business development plan in place.

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