Business Builders Podcast

When should we get serious about Business Development?

May 29, 2022 Brenton Gowland & Ron Tomlian Season 2 Episode 21
Business Builders Podcast
When should we get serious about Business Development?
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

In today's episode, our hosts Brenton Gowland and Ron Tomlian launch a new series of episodes about Driving Business Development within our organisations.

The topics covered in this first part of the series are: 

  • When should we get serious about Business Development
    • Reason 1 - When you need to feed the beast
    • Reason 2 - When competition enters your space
    • Reason 3 - When there is a change in the market
    • Reason 4 - When we want our business to grow
  • The definition of business development
  • The difference between business development and Sales
  • Driving Business Development - an overview of our series
  • BD people are the tip of the spear


Brenton Gowland  0:03  
Today on The Business Builders podcast, we're starting a new series about driving business development in our organisations. Ron talks about the similarities and the differences between sales and business development, and I talk about the need to feed the beast. Well welcome to the Business Builders podcast. We are your hosts, I am Brenton Gowland.

Ron Tomlian  0:26  
And I'm Ron Tomlian.

Brenton Gowland  0:27  
And Ron, it is great to be here again. We've just finished our demystifying Strategic Planning series that's been six or seven episodes actually.

Ron Tomlian  0:35  
Finished was Peter Nolan, which was a fantastic little episode to have, as our final.

Brenton Gowland  0:40  
It was. And you know, what's really interesting is, even though we've been talking about this, and we've been involved with doing a lot of strategy work, every time I talk to someone like Peter, I actually learn more. There's little nuggets that come out that really help. So that was a great interview. last fortnight, I was really, really impressed with the way Peter approaches strategic planning,

Ron Tomlian  1:02  
And uses it most effectively to get the results that he's looking for, which is fantastic.

Brenton Gowland  1:07  
Agreed. I've already had a talk with a few of my clients about Mr. Nolan and his approach just to encourage them. So it's good, and we hope you out there have been really enjoying it. And if you have been enjoying our podcast and the people that we've been interviewing, please let us know, please send us a message rate us on Apple podcasts rate us on Spotify, we'd love your feedback and your interaction. For those of you who are listening,

Ron Tomlian  1:29  
Always looking for good ideas as to how we can improve people's businesses by talking about the aspects that are important to them.

Brenton Gowland  1:38  
And speaking about good ideas, we're now going to start a new series this week, and our series is going to be kicking off with this episode. And it's about business development and today's episode is called when should you get serious about business development?

Ron Tomlian  1:56  
I think it's an important question because a lot of people take business development for granted. And it should be a function within the organisation. But let's talk about that.

Brenton Gowland  2:04  
Agreed. And this series that we're kicking off today is calling driving BD. That's right driving business development. And it's designed for people who are managers within a business and CEOs and others and of course, for BD people, but the real aim of what we're going to be talking about is helping get that BD function into your business and getting operating efficiently, effectively, and getting it to produce results for you. 

Ron Tomlian  2:32  
So it begs the question, the initial question, when do you get serious about business development?

Brenton Gowland  2:37  
And we'll answer that question right after we do our sponsors, Ron. So our sponsors are. 

Ron Tomlian  2:45  
Adapt_CO, that's you.

Brenton Gowland  2:46  
Correct. So Adapt_CO exist to help businesses get control of their marketing within their business. Just like we're talking about business development today, you get control of your marketing. And sometimes that involves creating a new shape for your business, looking at your business plan, and creating an environment where your marketing can thrive and get the results it needs. So we come in, we sit in your business, we work in your business, and we help you craft a marketing plan, craft a strategy and help you execute to make sure that your marketing goals are on track. That is Adapt_CO.

Ron Tomlian  3:20  
And SA Business Builders.

Brenton Gowland  3:21  
Which is a group of business professionals and younguns, who come together once a month here in Adelaide, South Australia. If you're listening internationally, there are a great group of people that are focused on creating authentic business relationships.

Ron Tomlian  3:35  
And another meeting coming up fairly shortly.

Brenton Gowland  3:38  
Yes, I think in about two weeks, and we're going to be looking at emotional intelligence in business networking, which is actually a really interesting thing. I've been listening to a audio book on emotional intelligence at the moment. And it's, it's a really interesting topic.

Ron Tomlian  3:54  
Well, as far as I'm concerned, it's it is the basis of great leadership and or any leadership really, whether you'd like it or not.

Brenton Gowland  4:02  
So we might come back to you on that a little bit later. But anyway, they are our sponsors. So now let's get cracking. What was the question that we were going to talk about today in Driving BD?

Ron Tomlian  4:13  
When do you need to get serious about business development?

Brenton Gowland  4:16  
Well, that's a good question. Because if I take myself as an example, I started a business when I was 32. And it went really, really well, particularly in the first few years. And I must admit, I was kind of on my own. Have you read that book by Michael Gerber, which is called the E

Ron Tomlian  4:32  
Myth and the E Myth revisited, etc.

Brenton Gowland  4:35  
Correct. So that's if you haven't read it, it's based on the premise that an entrepreneur doesn't start a business. It actually promotes the fact that it's usually a frustrated trades person who starts a business. Now was I a frustrated trades person, not really, I just think I was a trades person. I was a graphic designer who decided that I wanted to do a lot of other things and it just creating a business progressed. And so anyway, started this business got a lot of work. I started employing people. And at some point, I realised, we were getting a lot of work. Had a lot of clients I needed the staff to be able to deal with that. Went along quite swimmingly for a while. But at some point I realised, I'd created a beast that needed to be fed.

Ron Tomlian  5:15  

Brenton Gowland  5:15  
And that started to become a real stress.

So there's number one, there's number one situation.

When you need to feed the beast.

Ron Tomlian  5:23  
When you need to feed the beast is when business development starts to become important because you have a resource that has a reality of its own, that needs to be fed the jobs, the work, so that it can continue as an entity.

Brenton Gowland  5:39  
You know, I remember when I was in that phase I used, the key thing that was on my mind was I have to feed my staff, I have to be able to pay their bills, and in other words, give them their wages.

Ron Tomlian  5:50  
Yeah, if I look at the business owner, members in my tech groups, that's often their biggest sense of responsibility is that they have people who rely on them to keep the business going. And when that happens, they're interested in how they can grow the business and make it sustainable.

Brenton Gowland  6:07  
Yeah. And I must admit, you know, we talk about, you know, what keeps you up at night has been one of your driving thoughts, when you're in that stage of business, it doesn't just keep you up, it keeps you pacing the streets, until you find that equilibrium.

Ron Tomlian  6:18  
Hopefully just pacing not working.

Brenton Gowland  6:19  
Oh, no thinking about how I'm going to solve this problem. Because, yeah, that was when I think it was five or six people in the business. And so yeah, that started to become a reality that I need to be able to create a pipeline of work to be able to give to these people. So yes, and I think there was a CEO that I was working with at the time, who was one of our clients who said to me, Brenton, nobody sells like the boss. And I came to this realisation at that point, that at that stage of the business, I needed to be the one who was going out there selling so I learned a heck of a lot about BD.

Ron Tomlian  6:50  
That's an interesting point, you just right, you said selling and business development almost interchangeably. And that's I think one of the problems with business development, what's the difference between business development and sales?

Brenton Gowland  7:01  
Yeah, exactly. So that's an interesting question. So maybe we should get on to the definition, maybe we should have started there.

Ron Tomlian  7:08  
Well, maybe. But I think let's just finish with these other times that. 

Brenton Gowland  7:13  
You get serious about business development. 

Ron Tomlian  7:15  
What I've noticed in businesses and, and it happened to me when I was at the Australian Institute of Management is that when competition enters, oftentimes businesses start up, and there the only ones providing a service, delivering it. So you know, that's fantastic and wonderful situation to be in. But it doesn't take long before somebody else figures, well, I could do that doesn't, that there's nothing special about him or what he's doing, I could do that. And he seems to be doing quite well. So you get competition, entering your space, your marketplace. And suddenly, you're not guaranteed everyone who needs that particular product or service. And you have to start thinking about how do I compete in this marketplace? Where's my next customer going to come from? Where's my next market segment going to come from? So competition is the second reason people start thinking about business development.

Brenton Gowland  8:08  
Absolutely. It's called fighting for your right to survive.

Ron Tomlian  8:10  
Thats right.

Brenton Gowland  8:11  
And sometimes businesses just they do they have a great proposition and a great start and a great base. And they don't need to think about it too much. And then, you know, there's a principle when it's called, slowly, slowly, suddenly, right. So as competition creeps in, ahhh, I don't need to worry about them. And I think there's plenty of case studies we can draw from to talk about this fact. You know, I remember, in the graphic design industry, there used to be a product that everyone used called Quark Express.

Ron Tomlian  8:35  
Oh, yeah.

Brenton Gowland  8:36  
And Adobe came along and started pushing their product. And Quark was like, well, we're the best everyone uses us. We don't need to worry. And Adobe slowly, slowly crept up, and then all of a sudden, who the heck was QuarkXPress, it just happened within a few years. And I remember they just didn't innovate, didn't do anything, didn't look at how they should develop their business and just had the one product, and it disappeared.

Ron Tomlian  8:57  
And just look at Nokia. I mean, they were the number one selling phone and all of a sudden, they're almost gone. And if you look at what they do, now they make smartphones as well.

Brenton Gowland  9:07  
Yeah, it's interesting. And so another one is when there's a change in the market, because sometimes a business can be going along so well, and just tracking well that you know, business development doesn't necessarily deserve their or in their perception deserve their priority, because all the customers have already got it firing. But what happens if a change happens in the market, and those customers that they've got are really deeply affected, and then they no longer, you know, they start cutting things off, their budgets reduced, they start spending less. And all of a sudden those businesses that had a clear pipeline of work don't anymore.

Ron Tomlian  9:42  
And you only have to look at what's happened in the last two years with COVID to know that businesses suffered from sudden market changes.

Brenton Gowland  9:49  
Correct. And that is the premise of what I'm kind of getting at because when you're having the good times, you know, there's that principle of dig your well before you're thirsty, right. So businesses will be like, if they're doing really well. And they're at capacity. They're like, no, no, no slowdown on the business development we can't possibly bring on the client. But that's when you kind of start to change your strategy. And it goes from, I'm going to have this really full on, focus on getting new clients to no I'm gonna get out in the market, I'm gonna learn what's going on, I'm going to build relationships, I'm going to build a pipeline, and have that timed in such a way that I can pull those clients in when I need to, and that we'll get into that a little bit later. But that's managing the pipeline, but you really need to be. And I guess that brings us on to where we want to go with this. You know, what is, and Ron I'll put this to you. When should we actually get serious about business development?

Well, in my opinion, always.

Well, I got another take on that. I actually think it's when we want to grow the business.

Ron Tomlian  10:48  
Well, okay. I'm going to make an assumption. And I did make the assumption that most businesses, all businesses want to grow one way or another.

Brenton Gowland  10:57  

Ron Tomlian  10:57  
Not necessarily revenue all the time. But all businesses want to grow. I mean, even businesses that aren't interested in profit, if you think about political parties, they want to grow their concept. So grow the, you know, the idea that drives them, they want more people to adopt. 

Brenton Gowland  11:15  

Ron Tomlian  11:16  
Even businesses, I would argue, even businesses that would like their clientele to diminish, you know, think about drug addiction services.

Brenton Gowland  11:25  

Ron Tomlian  11:25  
You say, well, they don't want to grow their business, no, but they want to grow the idea that you don't need to be addicted.

Brenton Gowland  11:31  
So they're kind of businesses that have been commissioned for a purpose. Like, you know, government agencies and so forth, you know, the Office of this or the Office of that whatever that government agency is, it's there to serve a function. Not grow a business.

Ron Tomlian  11:44  
But their business is ideas, their business is not about money.

Brenton Gowland  11:48  
Or community change.

Ron Tomlian  11:49  
Yeah, community, absolutely. Community change, changing behaviours. So while they are involved in providing a service, because an aberrant behaviour exists, they want to grow the idea that that aberrant behaviour doesn't need to exist. It's about growing a mindset or growing a following of people who have that same idea. You don't need to do this. Think about speeding.

Brenton Gowland  12:17  

Ron Tomlian  12:18  
Same sort of thing. You don't need to be speeding. So they've got to build that idea. And they want to grow their business and their growth is in more people who have this idea and the behaviour that goes with it.

Brenton Gowland  12:30  
Yeah, exactly. And those kinds of businesses will not have a business development function. They'll have a communications function, or which we call Marcomms, marketing communications, because their job is to change the community. And then they'll have PR people and some sort of advisory team and all that kind of stuff. But they will not have BD.

Ron Tomlian  12:53  
Well, you can, I would argue that their business development is done through a different mechanism. That's all. Still trying to grow their business. It just happens to be that their business is in people's heads, not in terms of them forking out money.

Brenton Gowland  13:02  
But probably a very different supposition to what we want to be talking about I'm imagining.

Ron Tomlian  13:07  
Well, I suppose I speak a little bit at a theoretical level, rather than the practical. So I'll give you that one.

Brenton Gowland  13:13  
Okay. So look, if we went to a definition, in my view, when should you get serious about business development, it's when you want to grow your business. And we were having a talk beforehand, as well about the fact that what happens if you're not growing your business?

Ron Tomlian  13:28  
Well, nowadays, if you're not growing your business, you're probably moving backwards.

Brenton Gowland  13:32  

Ron Tomlian  13:33  
And that doesn't mean all growth is good growth. All I'm saying is that in a world that's consolidating in a lot of industries in the world that's consolidating a lot of businesses. To stay where you are, means the rest of the world is taking you over.

Brenton Gowland  13:47  
That's right. 

Ron Tomlian  13:48  
So under those circumstances, let's get to a definition of business development. Because I think that's fundamental to what you're talking about in terms of only businesses want to grow. What is business develop?

Brenton Gowland  13:59  
Well, I believe business development is actively pursuing new opportunities to grow your business. Right. Notice how I didn't say sales, it's new opportunities, and they can take different formats. And I mean, that comes back to that theoretical supposition that you're putting forward earlier about changing businesses that need to change behaviours, is looking for opportunities to grow your business.

Ron Tomlian  14:21  
So what's the difference between business development sales, then?

Brenton Gowland  14:24  
Well, that's an interesting one. So sales, the best way I can describe this is sales usually sell pre existing products or services that do not, or will not change. I am going to sell you a widget. So I'm going to find people to sell that widget to and I'm going to sell the widget, but you're not actually, you're building a customer base, but you're not going out and looking for new opportunities. Now, we had a discussion about this earlier.

Ron Tomlian  14:51  
So what is a new opportunity? Yes.

Brenton Gowland  14:53  
Well I'm gonna let you answer that because I know what you're going to say. And people are listening and going, what are they talking about? What are they talking about? Look, we had a discussion about the fact that sales and business development is very difficult to differentiate in some circumstance because Ron?

Ron Tomlian  15:08  
Yes, or because oftentimes, the process of getting a sale involves people identifying new prospects.

Brenton Gowland  15:17  

Ron Tomlian  15:17  
So the process of identifying, you know salesman, in the classical sense will go out and visit a potential customer and an existing customer. And they'll try and get them to buy a product or service that meets their needs.

Brenton Gowland  15:31  

Ron Tomlian  15:32  
That offers value to them. But I would argue that when there's a new customer who puts the new customer contact information in front of the salesperson, to me, it's business development, who does that. That could be a different department. But oftentimes, salespeople are charged with finding their new customer base. To me, that's a business development activity that salespeople are doing. And it's not uncommon for businesses not to have a business development function at all. It's just all wrapped up within sales.

Brenton Gowland  16:04  
Well, I think you're bringing up a good point, there can be a lot of confusion about the difference between sales and BD. And there's a lot of people who have the title business development manager, who I think are salespeople, and there's probably a lot of people with the title sales manager who are or salesperson who actually business development people. Have you come across much of this out in you're?

Ron Tomlian  16:23  
Always always and you know, it's at the end of the day, it doesn't really matter, just between you and me, it doesn't really matter. As long as the function is being undertaken, when it does matter is when you need when you get want to get serious about this stuff, and you want to separate the sales activities from the business development activities and ensure both are being done.

Brenton Gowland  16:45  
So from my view, what's really important is that the business itself understands what business development is. So the management team, the CEO, the executive, the board, because again, I think there can be some confusion at those levels, from my experience.

Ron Tomlian  16:59  
And what's important about that is that when you look at the business development role, and its relationship to marketing, and it's relationships to sales, in effect, its relationship to operations and delivery, ultimately, it all ties together.

Brenton Gowland  17:14  

Ron Tomlian  17:15  
Because you can't deliver on something that isn't appropriate for a customer. So everyone needs to be involved.

Brenton Gowland  17:22  
So marketing touches every area of your business. Absolutely. Because the insights that your business generates the functions that your business generates, it either feeds marketing, or is fed by it. And we'll talk about that in another day. Same thing with business development, because often, sales and marketing are put together. And you'll notice in some companies, they'll have a sales and marketing manager, which I actually think is a mistake, because I don't know too many people that are a sales and marketing manager and do both effectively. They can lead a team potentially, but they're very different functions. But they have crossover, like we're talking about with business development and sales. But what I think so if you're listening today, our aim is to really make clear how to grow and manage your business development function in your business, how to manage your BD.

Ron Tomlian  18:10  
To grow and manage your business.

Brenton Gowland  18:11  
Yeah, absolutely. So our series is going to be a four part series. And then we're going to interview a business development professional that we have hand picked, who is amazing. Well tell more about them later. But we're gonna go through four processes, like we did with the demystifying Strategic Planning series. So the processes are, we're going to look at planning your business development, monitoring your business development, aligning your whole business, with your business development activities, and then how to win as a team. All of those there, the four episodes that we're going to come up, is going to be plan, monitor, align, and win.

Ron Tomlian  18:48  
Fantastic, I can't wait.

Brenton Gowland  18:50  
Neither can I. So our next episode is looking at planning. So if you are looking at building a knowledge about business development, but particularly how to activate and really encourage your BD people and really make that function work for your business, that's what we're going to be looking at. Because an effectively well managed business development function within a business, really sets your business development people up for success. Whether that's you during the business development as a leader of the business and every, I haven't been in one business yet, where like a CEO slash owner isn't part of the sales process no matter what they say. Because when you roll them in, it's really important, it's giving your client or your potential prospect, the attention that they deserve.

Ron Tomlian  19:32  
And sometimes people say that they're the most appropriate sometimes they're the only people that prospective clients want to talk to. I want to speak to the CEO I want to speak to the owner and that's appropriate because they're usually the most passionate.

Brenton Gowland  19:45  
And what am I end off with is that the BD people are actually only the tip of the spear when it comes to business development because as we talked about with crossover, Business Development touches every part of the business, so the business development people being the tip of the spear should be able to say, Mr. CEO, I require you for this one or Mr. workshop manager, I require you for this one, or whoever it is. They should be able to pull resources, if they're good BD person to be able to put in front of a client in order to, what we were talking about in the fourth part of this series, to be able to win the client. It's a team effort. It's a whole business endeavour. The big mistake some business people that some businesses make is, here's my BD and salespeople, they're over there, but they're not connected to the rest of the business, you need to work as a team. And that's kind of some of the management and methodology that you're going to hear from us over the next four episodes.

Ron Tomlian  20:39  
And it become, quite frankly, it's easier when businesses are small, because a business owner is often the BD person, the salesperson, the operations person. So under those circumstances, you can't separate them. They're all in one.

Brenton Gowland  20:53  

Ron Tomlian  20:54  
We're really talking about how to help when those roles are separated within organisations.

Brenton Gowland  21:00  
And I've seen when this starts. I've seen a business go from not really having a strategy and a plan, having BD people to having a strategy and plan aligning all their staff. And basically, they've got so much work now that they need to change their business development strategy to be a longer term process rather than winning work, because they almost hit a point where winning new work is something they don't want to do. But that's come from an alignment and some really focused attention on business development within the organisation.

Ron Tomlian  21:30  
And you'd much rather be in that position where you can decide whether you want to do that or not then being scrambling for work because you haven't been paying attention to your growth or the growth of your organisation.

Brenton Gowland  21:41  
Exactly. And that's what we're going to be focusing on over the next few weeks to really, and being in that position is so great, because you've got the options as to I'm not just going to be feeding the monster, which is where some people start, you're actually going to be deciding how to grow your business and business development can give you that ability to go, how are we going to grow? What kind of business are we going to look like in the future? So it deserves our full attention.

Ron Tomlian  22:06  
And funnily enough, being calling ourselves Business Builders as this podcast is this is probably one of the most appropriate topics that we can talk about.

Brenton Gowland  22:14  
Absolutely so we're going to end there. So in the next four episodes, we're going to be looking at planning your business development strategy and plan, monitoring its results in its progress, aligning your staff, and then winning as a team. So exciting times ahead Ron.

Ron Tomlian  22:32  
Yes. So it's bye from me.

Brenton Gowland  22:34  
And goodbye from me. We will see you next time.

When should we get serious about business development?
Reason 1 - When you need to feed the beast
Reason 2 - When competition enters your space
Reason 3 - When there is a change in the market
Reason 4 - When we want our business to grow
The definition of business development
The difference between business development and Sales
Driving Business Development - an overview of our series
BD people are the tip of the spear