The 6 Stages in the Business Development Cascade

Earlier I wrote about the trade-off between spontaneity and flexibility on the one hand and replicability on the other.  One can have too much structure or too little.  I did not address what a BizDev process structure might look like.  My model of this is a cascade:

source: wikimedia commons

source: Wikimedia commons

Many of these terms are actually very poorly defined and folks waste time arguing over the definitions (generally as turf and budgets come with definitions). However one of the biggest failings – especially for individuals and SMEs – is not having a clear distinction between the various phases of the BizDev process.  Not doing so fails to recognise that one needs radically different material and approaches at each stage. Here are the six stages I use and my definitions of what is required at each:

0. Brand – who you are and what you stand for.

1. Value Added/Proposition – what is the value you are creating that is worth folks buying?

2. Marketing – what is the message about your value, how are you getting it in front of potential buyers and arousing their interest?

3. Sales – converting interest into a signed contract.

4. Delivering/Landing – converting a contract into a happy client.

5. Nourishing/Expanding – converting a one-off client into a long-term happy client with multiple transactions.

I put Brand at zero as – despite all the attention paid to it in mega-businesses (where arguably the product can end up becoming the brand (Coke for example is more brand that a “value added” sugar rush with chemicals)) it isn’t always necessary to an individual proposition.  By definition NewCos start at 1 – Proposition not at 0 – Brand.

Furthermore in a world of excess most folks haven’t the time to have an idea of every brand going in the world. Naturally a “good brand” definitely helps any proposition and definitely helps business longevity but it’s perhaps less essential in the 21stC in many cases than it was in the 20thC.  Debatable perhaps but certainly something not easy to change in an instant and several large company folks trying to do something on a small scale bemoan how their brand makes it difficult for them.

The whole blog is focused around these various “cascade” stages so I wont write about them in detail here.  I do want to emphasise though why I chose a cascade as my central image/model …  it’s a very important pointer that stuff flows downstream.

So if your brand does stink it’s going to be hard to sell any proposition.  If your value added is vague (or indeed isn’t what you think it is (surprisingly common actually)) then marketing it is going to be tough.  If marketing is poor or the proposition just not that great then it’s easy to blame the salesmen but it ain’t their fault.

Furthermore there is a temptation to view BizDev as Marketing (including brand) + Sales.  Product can be another silo.  Additionally, very commonly in IT vendors there is often a schism between Marketing and Sales folks and the consultants who turn up to implement (step 4).  What one sees time and time again is the consultants get it in the neck for “under-delivering” whereas it was more a case of “they” got the deal by over-promising.

So lets leave it at that for today.  It’s a cascade.  Any mud in the stream will flow all the way down.  Any friction or non-alignment between the processes/functions/departments will “lose water”, “lose essence” which can never be regained.  In extremis when too much “real value proposition” has been lost “lower down” steps like advertising and Sales in essence end up “putting lipstick on a pig”. And at that point water will flow back up hill and your brand will take a big hit.

If your sales aren’t going well sure it might be the salesmen’s approach at fault, but generally I have found that the water has been polluted before it is given to them to sell it.  Going right back up the cascade is generally the way to start fixing poor sales.  What is your brand? What is your value?

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