The 5 Phases of Business Development

The Business Development (BD) process in Government Contracting relates to the identification of suitable contracts and preparation of proposals in response to Government solicitations for these contracts. It typically consists of five separate and distinct phases:

  1. The PositioningPhase (tied to the company’s Business and Strategic Plans), where the company decides on the direction they want to take to increase market share. The PursuitPhase, where the overall Marketing Plan is developed and then separated into the accounts that will identify individual targets to pursue
  2. The ProposalPhase, where the response to the RFP is prepared
  3. The Post SubmissionPhase, where clarifications, proposal modifications and negotiations (if any) are prepared
  4. The OperationsPhase, where the contract is mobilized for Phase-in, if won – or lessons learned from the Government’s debrief is collected, if lost

One important aspect of the BD process is that it is most effective as a closed-loop system, in which the Operations Phase information feeds into the Positioning Phase for an ever-changing system that quickly reacts to changing conditions in the marketplace. This is often referred to as the BD Lifecycle.

Many separate workgroups or business units support the BD process, from corporate management to the operations staff to production personnel and administrative staff inside the company, to third party Subject Matter Experts (SME) or professional proposal preparation personnel like those provided by third party consulting firms.

Positioning PhaseSome of the tasks performed during the major phases of the BD process include:

  • Defining the company’s direction
  • Using data from the Marketing Plan, establish target selection criteria and prioritize targets
  • Forming strategic alliances with other companies that can make good teaming partners that will lead to expanding the company’s resume in new markets
  • Analyze the gaps between where the company is today, and where the company needs to be, what it needs to have, etc to meet the projected goals
  • Establish the various Lines of Business (LOB) and develop the account plans (by customer, region, etc) to support the LOBs
  • Establish the necessary overall Bid and Proposal (B&P) budgets to support the accounts

Pursuit Phase

  • Establish and develop the Capture Plans for targets identified within the Account Plans
  • Develop an understanding of each individual customers’ needs and articulate these in each Capture Plan
  • Establish a customer Call Plan and meet with them to discover gaps and present solutions
  • Locate Key Personnel suitable for the job
  • Locate required subcontractors to fill niche task requirements or small business subcontracting goals
  • Locate and commit one or more “guy on the ground” that understands details that may not be disclosed during the procurement cycle (make sure he does not have a conflict of interest!) Redact all of the information into a Bid/No Bid document for analysis

Proposal Phase

  • Hold strategy sessions and discuss all known information, and discover any final gaps
  • Develop the Concept of Operation (CONOPS)
  • Refine and finalize the B&P budget
  • Mobilize the Proposal and Cost Teams
  • Attend the Site Visit/Pre-proposal conference
  • Conduct Final Bid/No Bid for Management
  • Prepare, refine, produce, and deliver proposal

Post Submission Phase

  • Follow up to client
  • Orals Presentation if required
  • Archive working proposal documents into library
  • Respond to Questions/clarifications from customer
  • Revise proposal as needed

Operations Phase

  • Mobilize for Contract Phase-in
  • Negotiate contract modification as needed
  • Develop lessons learned (entire team)
  • Collect and archive contract performance data for future proposals

This is just a simple list of some of the major tasks performed during the process, there are many other sub-tasks that must be performed to accomplish these, and there are many opportunities to do them incorrectly. This is often frustrating for companies, as they are unable to understand why they’re not experiencing the success they believe they should have, or that their competition has, because they are dutifully performing each step of the process.

What’s important here is that merely performing the step is not the same as performing it correctly. Another dynamic of this is that it can be difficult to admit that sometimes we need help, or it could be that upper management would take a dim view of our abilities if we asked for outside help with our internal processes.

Additionally, many large (and some small) companies need help, but don’t know they need it (or in extreme cases, are too arrogant to admit it). This is normally characterized by a high turnover of business development personnel as they struggle in vain to be successful using a broken process.

How to Grow Your Business Development Capability

When you are a small business or a brand new department in a larger company, you might start as one person who is responsible for winning government contracts. This is not a problem-you can join the ranks of many who have started at one point or another and are still the only one writing proposals, even as their company has grown to a nice size and they have the capital to afford professionals. We once met the CEO of a 1,200-person business who still was the company’s best proposal writer-he had a 99 percent win rate. (He’d lock himself in a hotel room for a week at a time with a few six packs.) It was possible because the company was focused on a single set of offerings and wrote for the same set of customers.

Many companies reach a point at which they have to start maturing and growing their business development, capture, and proposal capability. It usually happens when they have a constant volume of bids and they are looking for a more efficient way to develop proposals and win consistently. They want to scale up, grow aggressively, and create a true business development engine.

If you are a small company or a small department within a large company, the next phase of the business development team, beyond just you, could consist of one or two people, with technical personnel roped in as needed for subject matter expertise. This formula works when this team has to go after a handful of bids a year, but as you start growing aggressively and you need to crank out four, five, or ten proposals a month, you have to figure out how to scale intelligently.

Your goal is to add the right staff at the right time – be they internal resources or external.

Internal-resources hiring has to be timed to make business sense. First, you have to determine your current and desired proposal volume per month, and staff your organization at 75 percent of the expected throughput. If your proposal volume is lower than one proposal per month, it’s smarter to use consultants for larger bids, and write smaller bids in-house, burning the midnight oil.

When you go after proposals that you must win, hire real consulting professionals. The temptation is to go cheaper on the hourly rate, but if you are just starting to build your capability, you need experts-even if you bring them in just to outline your proposal, and review it mid-process. If you are obsessed with the hourly rate, you may save money on the wages, but may lose even more money and time if you don’t win, or have to rewrite what they have done. Proposal consultants will run you on average $150/hour-some will charge more and some a little less.

After you bring in your internal Business Development manager to find opportunities, and hire a Capture Manager, you may need to bring in an internal proposal manager.

Your next set of hires will likely include a writer and an all-in-one desktop publisher/technical editor/graphic artist. Your technical writer will write and edit proposal sections, while working closely with the SMEs. Your jack-of-all-trades person will serve three roles at once:

Professional graphic artist to transform your graphic concepts into professional-looking, attractive graphics
Editor to ensure your proposals are error-free and polished
Desktop publisher to format your documents for professional appearance
You will need to involve your SMEs in the proposal process as much as possible after you train them in proposal writing. This way, you will be able to cut down on the amount of work you have to do personally as the designated business developer – and reduce your resource costs.

As you grow larger, you may bring in a Price Strategist; a Pricer; a professional Contracts Manager to help you navigate the intricacies of the FAR and other customer requirements and lead your customer negotiations; a Procurement Manager to help you negotiate and manage teaming arrangements and subcontracting agreements; and even a PTW expert to make your bids more competitive from the price standpoint.

Successful companies are careful in adding all these overhead positions, and they don’t try to do everything in-house. They perform careful financial analysis taking all costs into consideration, and use a mix of internal staff and consultants. They bring in external resources for:

Surges
Special expertise
New ideas
Staff mentoring

You will need to carefully track your staff’s performance and efficiency. You will need to decide how efficient and effective they are in their win rates and throughput, and either develop or replace them. Develop a relationship with a trusted consulting firm such as OST, and have the resources on tap when and where you need them.

The Benefits of Business Development Coaching

Business development coaching is essential for companies who wish to maximize their profit margins and grow as a whole. This can be useful for organisations of all sizes. It aids management in learning the key skills required to expand a business and increase its chances of success.

Professional coaching companies which provide the services of well-trained, experienced coaches are certainly not in short supply. Some of the best coaching companies are world leaders in the field, with businesses having significantly benefited from their considerable experience.

What is professional development coaching?

Any activity that aids in improving an organization or individual is referred to as business coaching. Individuals who provide business development coaching run classes with the purpose of directing, instructing and training business leaders to achieve a specific goal or to develop business management skills that may aid them in achieving business development.

What do coaching companies do?

Professional coaching companies impart knowledge, skills and training to current or prospective entrepreneurs, individuals or groups of individuals from pre-existing businesses to aid them in improving the effectiveness of their business.

The job of the coach is to work to improve leadership, enhance teamwork, ensure employees realise the importance of accountability, improve sales, facilitate effective communication, and aid businesses in the setting of goals. Professional trainers also provide advice on strategic planning in addition to a variety of other business development skills.

Business coaches can aid business leaders in promoting their businesses both online and offline, regardless of the type of business being operated.

How is coaching different from mentoring?
Business coaches typically have little direct experience of an individual’s formal occupational role, except where coaching focuses on specific skills. Business mentoring, on the other hand, is typically provided by experienced colleagues who are able to pass on industry knowledge and experience in order for an individual to open up opportunities not otherwise in reach.

How do business coaching companies operate?

Depending on the task to hand, a business coaching company may impart business development support in a variety of ways. Business coaching education may take the form of motivational speaking, seminars and lectures, and workshops. It may comprise a single coaching method or several. Coaching may be provided on a one-to-one or group basis.

Business coaches often specialize in different areas of development coaching. They may therefore engage in executive coaching, corporate coaching, or leadership coaching, for example. Existing organisations can capitalize on business coaching specialization by only paying for the coaching they require. New businesses, meanwhile may benefit from more general coaching. It is essential that any business requiring coaching determines their needs to ensure that they are supplied with an adequate level of service.

The Worth of Business Development Service For Professional Firms

Business development service is always used in a broader sense & enables the professional firms to strengthen ties with their existing customers as well as attracting new customers in other areas of the business market. In order to achieve this objective, the business development service providers go beyond the traditional means of marketing, sales, operations, customer care & business management to help their clients promote the business expansion at multiple levels. It needs the business development strategy maker to have certain level of expertise in different areas of business so that he could easily recognize & utilize the opportunities for business growth.

One of the basic requirements for business development is to evaluate the current business value as it is more related to the growth & maintenance of the business. For this, the development service providers appoint business development specialist who will work along with marketing & sales professionals to develop an effective strategy. This business strategy is based on the degree of popularity that the business is already enjoying in other areas of the customer base.

The business organizing specialist will sought for customer feedback from the customer care executives. These executives will help the strategy maker to gather data from the existing customers on their view about the company & its services. Such type of action often helps the development specialist to find out more effective ways of business promotion that can replace the current marketing strategy & target more number of customers in the market sector where the business is already present. Moreover, the acquisition of client testimonials through the channel of customer care executives will assist the business organizing specialist to identify the areas for the new range of products & develop a suitable marketing strategy for them. This strategy will lead to the quick promotion of new products & services later.

The role of business development service provider is not limited to an increased sales or customer satisfaction. While these things come naturally with the development service, the development strategy maker will have to ensure the best utilization of company fund, refine the operation of management & different departments and address any legal issue that may arise as the business continues to grow. Many professional firms give the business development strategy maker the right to collect business related information from any level of business structure & utilize it to induce more business.

Every small to large scale business organization can opt for development in business service. It brings guaranteed success for every kind of corporate condition. Many small time companies have tried it out & achieved a firm footage in their own sector. In most of the cases, businesses have been able to capture the targeted sector & achieve growth due to the efforts of business development specialist. So, companies need to concentrate more on their development & hire for development professionals if it seems impossible for them.

Corporate maintains their own wing for business growth & development that will deal with all development related activities. But small businesses can’t afford to do that. So, they may ask a development consultant to work for them. The consultant will help them assess the present situations & develop strategies for bringing more business growth in future.