Existing Approaches Fail

Why? (1) “Dark Side” BizDev; (2) Incompetent BizDev; (3) the World of Business has Changed Forever.

existing bizdev

1st Reason – Dark Side BizDev – 20thC Style

Well it depends what you mean by fail. The 20thC was the most successful century ever in terms of giant companies marketing and sales departments using psychological research to get people to buy. However much of this – think tobacco, junk food (or even political parties?) – is motivated by the Dark Side of the Force – a greed-driven desire to manipulate people into doing things which are very deleterious to their health. Whether that be lung cancer, obesity or the consequent diabetes epidemic.


Dark-side BizDev can be marketing-centric (give Coca-Cola an appealing image), or sales-centric (“51 super ways to close the deal”). Either way the motivation is money.

Light-side BizDev is product- or client-centric and the motivation is making something great or serve someone well.

Apart from the direct impact of “Lord Vader 20thC BizDev” approaches, the indirect consequence is huge sales and marketing resistance. Huge scepticism of adverts, marketing claims etc etc. This makes it hard for the Luke Skywalker business development folks. Outside the US perhaps it is hardly socially cool to “be in sales”.

1st Reason – Dark Side BizDev – 21stC Style

A further problem is that the Dark Side is infecting 21stC digital ways. I was shocked to hear in a reputable marketing podcast recently “so what is the business value of being good and kind”?!?

David Meerman-Scott (a highly influential author) invented “newsjacking” – the art of injecting yourself to “breaking news” (and as news is 99% negative you can imagine which side of the force that is from).

Gary Vaynerchuk’sย  “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook” is a successful book right now. Although this recommends helping out folks (“jab”) more times than you ask for help (“right hook”) – so far so good ๐Ÿ™‚ – the unfortunately pugilistic metaphor betrays the fact that kindness has been turned into a mere tactic for getting the deal ๐Ÿ™

Once again BizDev is centred on “the dollar” rather than “the heart” … and I am not being wishy-washy here – I believe that entrepreneurial businesses that will succeed must be heart-centric, mission-centric, purpose-driven to succeed. “Money is the side-effect of a great business model – not its centre”.

Anyway you pays your money and you takes your choices. It’s not the way of the Tao to moralise (that was left to the Confucians ๐Ÿ˜€ ).


2nd Reason – Incompetent BizDev

As I say “Lord Vader” marketing “works” spectacularly well. The second failure of Business Development is simply doing it badly. Whilst there are some great – and light side of the Force – business development folks out there, for plenty of people it’s not a “profession” somehow, more of an “anyone can do it” kinda thing (so no need to do courses, read it up etc).

Poor business development seems to be increasingly common. Perhaps because (as I discuss in The World of Work has Changed Forever) more and more people are going into start-up land. Especially those who either haven’t done much BizDev before (“can’t be that hard”) or those who did some but were in a BigCo with a solid brand-name (always makes distribution easier). This picture below is a mess – a schematic of techniques one sees time and time again:



3rd Reason – The World of Business has Changed Forever

Even if you are “light side” and competent/professional – you have probably found that it gets harder rather than easier. This is, as I outline in 21C BizDev is Challenging, because we are doing business in a completely different micro-economic environment.

Unless you have adapted for these new challenges, the old, “tried and trusted” ways will yield ever-diminishing returns.

Solving both the “digital” (ie technological) and the “human” (ie societal) challenges is, I believe, essential for 21stC Business Development Success. This is The Tao of BizDev approach hence calling it:

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