One of the biggest hiring gaps in Government contracting today is recruiting effective business development and capture resources. We often hear from our clients that they simply cannot find qualified, experienced, and results-driven business development staff. Can you relate? As difficult as it is to find that business development (BD) savior to grow your business, we’ve actually seen a growing trend of companies transforming their strongest delivery resources into business development and capture professionals. Why does this work? Many of these individuals already know the customer, understand their needs and interests, and have likely grown existing programs and accounts due to their program leadership, developing transferable skills for new BD roles.
In this blog post, we’ll address why looking to your delivery team for your next BD resource is a smart decision, describe the commonalities between successful delivery leaders and business development, and how you can identify and train those rising stars in your organization. Plus, you’ll hear from leaders in our industry on how they have made that transition and how it’s made them better at their jobs now.
The truth is, there is a lot of overlap between delivery and BD roles. The primary objective of business development and capture is to gain customer intimacy, understand hot buttons, and create solutions to address their needs. It is important that BD leads develop a trusted relationship with the customer so there is mutual interest to have the other succeed. Sounds a lot like a delivery, doesn’t it?
Josh Bailes, VP at CollabraLink Technologies, summarized this best, “delivery and growth roles are quite similar: both are aimed to understand the problems faced by the customer and to bring solutions that deliver outcomes.” He continued by saying, “For me, the key to a delivery role is remaining outcome oriented, empathic, and honest. These same values apply in growth roles as well.”
Not only does being in a delivery role help someone take a customer-centric approach to every decision and action, but it also gives them a look into the innerworkings of the customer and what is important to them. Andrew Stringer, VP at Avantus Federal, elaborated on this point by saying, “directly supporting clients gave me a detailed view of how the business of government gets done – who makes decisions, how money and information flow, and how missions get accomplished. Now when evaluating opportunities, I go beyond what is explicitly said and try to understand the underlying intention to tell the right story.”
Effective business development and capture often lead to a strong proposal that addresses the customer needs – it’s an opportunity to demonstrate all the prep work done up to that point. Simply put, a delivery background will be effective in developing a compelling message, solution, and approach in the proposal itself. Brandy Morrison, VP at PLURIBUS Digital, said “from a proposal management perspective, I now better appreciate the components of an RFP, especially the PWS/SOO/SOW. Being on the delivery side, helps in understanding what win themes to articulate, how to best to highlight mission support, and how best to illustrate how the team meets the evaluation criteria.”
In short, this delivery experience will help your BD, capture, and proposal team become well-rounded in their experience and perspective. “I am better able to facilitate solutioning sessions more effectively and guide the delivery team and solution architects to ensure we are covering all aspects of the solution,” Shaun Swartz, VP at RIVA Solutions, shared. “My delivery experience managing programs also gave me invaluable experience, knowledge, and skills regarding program/project recruiting, staffing, pricing, and budget management, team leadership/management, strategic planning, resource requirements and management, as well as recompete responsibilities and critical activities.”
3 Tips for Identifying Rising BD and Capture Stars
You might be wondering how you go about identifying these internal resources. Here are our three tips for discovering the rising business development and capture stars in your organization:
- Individuals who proactively share client feedback with their leadership team, escalate existing project issues, and incorporate lessons learned in real-time.
- Individuals who willingly contribute customer information to the business development, capture, and proposal teams to improve internal efforts.
- Individuals who are not shy, reticent, or reserved in their communication. They are positive, personable, and proactive.
The next step involves preparing them to start the transition from delivery to growth. We couldn’t agree more with this sentiment Josh Bailes shared on the importance of training. “The major challenge in transitioning from delivery to growth is the language barrier. Terms like PWin, Pink Team, TCV, Pipeline, and Gate Reviews all needed explaining. Organizations transitioning delivery staff into growth roles should recognize that training is essential to delivering outcomes and learning how the process of growth moves to proposals.”
4 Strategies for Preparing your New Growth Team
Preparation is the foundation of a successful transition. Here are our four strategies for preparing your new growth team:
- Begin by providing your employees foundational training on business development and capture strategy best practices and processes. Training will provide a baseline understanding of the concepts.
- Talk about how your company approaches business development and capture. If they don’t already know, share how your BD operation is structured and what resources exist for them as they begin transitioning.
- Now that they are equipped with the knowledge and support to execute these strategies, begin involving them in ongoing BD and capture efforts including meetings and reviews.
- Have them start attending events, conferences, and industry days with the intent of having them feel comfortable developing new relationships.
We know that hiring superstar BD and capture staff can be challenging. Sometimes the solution is right under your nose, leading the delivery of one of your best programs. Look internally to give your growth a boost!