What’s your business development style?

There is no one “best” way to do business development. We all have a natural business development style that we are drawn to.  This is not based on any external methodology that helps us get the job done, but on internal preferences shaped by our personality and environment.

Your business development style sits at the intersection of your natural decision-making horizon - whether you focus short-term or long term - and your natural way of thinking, meaning whether you’re more comfortable dealing with abstract concepts or concrete facts.

There are four primary business development styles:

1.         The Dealmaker, with a short-term concrete focus. Dealmakers pride themselves on being good operators who make commercially smart decisions and are great at cutting through mental clutter to get to a result. To a Dealmaker, there’s no problem with a customer that can’t be fixed by sweetening the deal.

2.         The Ideator, with a short-term conceptual focus. Ideators love to come up with creative and innovative ways to change the world for their customers. Ideators sidestep roadblocks and problems by thinking up new ways to get others excited about the future. 

3.         The Producer, with a long-term concrete focus.  Producers are great at what they do, get brilliant results, and love to work on interesting projects that fit their expertise. Producers solve problems best when  “putting their heads together” with a team of like-minded experts.

4.         The Nurturer, with a long-term conceptual focus. Nurturers are great with people; they put in tireless effort behind the scenes and often pull deals out of the hat like magic due to their strategic, long-term work on customer relationships. Nurturers are good at collaboratively solving problems, with a knack for helping customers see past the immediate issue to the long-term goal. 

Within your team, aim for a diversity of styles to create stronger arguments and better business development outcomes.

Team members who share a thinking style (whether concrete or conceptual) will tend to gravitate towards each other as allies – Dealmakers to Producers, and Ideators to Nurturers.

Likewise, team members who share a similar decision-making horizon but differ in their thinking style can be useful creative partners to help each other fill in the gaps and point out what the other might have missed – Dealmakers with Ideators, and Producers with Nurturers. 

Those who think completely differently and have opposing reference timeframes are natural challengers able to point out the flaws and risks in each others’ arguments (and probably have a few, while they’re at it). Expect a robust debate between Ideators and Producers, and Dealmakers and Nurturers.

Robyn Haydon is a business development consultant specialising in business won through formal bids, tenders and proposals. She is the author of two books on proposals and sales, including Winning Again: a retention game plan for your most important contracts and customers. Read more about it here.