New Business Development: Risky Business
Successful new business development requires a marketer (whether external or internal to a customer) to articulate a strong, highly differentiated value proposition to well targeted, well placed key corporate influencers and decision makers. In a perfect world, one could be successful in new business development simply by submitting a strong value proposition through a corporate innovation portal. I'm quite convinced that we don't live in a perfect world. In my world, strong, well placed connections still matter a great deal.
Unlike technology scouting, where clients articulate needs for which they seek solution options, new business developers have solutions in search of relevant needs (and customers). One big challenge in biz dev is that unless the customer has publicly disclosed its need, one needs to cultivate an internal champion to encourage the value proposition's adoption. Another is that even if the customer has disclosed its need, there is no way of knowing what other alternatives they may also be considering, or how urgent their need is.
One activity that most new business development efforts have in common is matching a value proposition with prospective customers, and importantly, identifying the right person(s) within the company whom to direct the pitch. Corporate innovation portals are designed to enable new business developers a means of inbounding value propositions. However, unless they are directed to address a specific, approved corporate need, there is a very good chance that they will get screened out unless the corporate gate keeper has the vision to direct the proposition to the right person...not just a person assigned to fielding the lead. In instances where I am representing a non traditional proposition, I will deliberately avoid using the innovation portal and instead target a senior executive whom I already know and with whom I have credibility to help ensure that the opportunity reaches the right eyes and ears.
Like technology scouting, new business development involves having to deal with corporate decision making processes, which are often outside the business developer's ability to significantly influence. The truth is, if clients honestly felt they could achieve success without involving a business developer like me, they would do it themselves.
In new business development, there are frequently two common and often off-putting elements: (1) many more "no" responses than "yes", and (2) deal cycles often take far longer than expected. Still, it can be incredibly satisfying and motivating when a customer "leans forward" and takes an active interest in a compelling value proposition.