We’ve been thinking about business development lately, having won a few and lost a few. People who haven’t worked at agencies may not realize the amount of effort that goes into business proposals. On one hand, “selling” seems trivial, like the empty promises of a guy with greasy palms at a used car dealership … but in business sales, a team studies the client organization, maps out economic levers, makes calls to resources, sketches ideas, and begins developing the entire solution ahead of time … to try to convince the client that we’re worth paying.
It’s fascinating work that keeps the mind nimble, euphoric when it succeeds, and disappointing when it fails. It’s probably one of the greatest competitive forces in the new economy, as knowledge workers have to compete with each other to get the next contract or project. If you can’t really figure out how to deliver value and move the levers that generate results, you lose and the other guy wins.
Maybe all organizations should move to agency models, even inside their walls. Instead of having secure jobs, employees would have to pitch their bosses every day if they wanted to be paid. Employees would drive in on their commutes racking their brains for new solutions, instead of zoning out to the radio. And employers would be inundated with fresh visions every day.
A model of productivity for the new century: Business development.