Structural barriers to business development

Legendary management guru Peter Drucker said that the purpose of a business is to create a customer. But in practice, what many of us spend our time doing seems to run contrary to this purpose.

Last week we considered the idea that there are thee primary internal barriers to business development – practical, structural and psychological – and looked at the practical barriers. These include lack of access to product information, marketing collateral, competitor research, or any one of a number of other things that we think we "need" in order to get out there and talk to people about what we offer.

This week, let’s look at the structural barriers. These are things that we have created - usually for what seemed like a sensible reason at the time - that actually end up getting in the way of our business development success. Here are a few examples:

·      Treating business development as a function, rather than a goal. This is what happens when we employ a salesperson or business development person and expect them to carry everything, while the rest of the business sees their responsibilities as simply to “deliver” on what they sell. This just doesn't work anymore (if it ever did). The most successful businesses are those where everybody is responsible in some way for business development. There’s no way that one person, or even a small group of people, can do everything that's necessary to create, present and deliver value for a customer.

·      Process for the sake of process.  Particularly in larger and older businesses, it’s common to see processes that have been set up to suit the business, and not the customer.  When someone says "this is the way we've always done things", it's a sign that this is an area that has become internally focused and is probably detrimental to delivering value for a customer. Processes should make things easier, but in fact often make them damned difficult.

·      The way we spend our time. Most of us spend way too much time on things that actually aren't very important, and not enough time on things that are. How much of your day is spent answering email? In meetings? Completing reports? Resolving problems for other people? Now, how much of your time do you get to spend on actually building new things, and creating value for customers? When we spend all our time reacting to things, we’re not creating anything new. And when we’re not creating anything new, we are not building anything valuable for customers to buy.

Is your structure holding you back from achieving the success you deserve? Peel back some layers and ask whether they are creating, or inhibiting, value for customers.

Robyn Haydon is a business development consultant specialising in business that is won through competitive bids and tenders. Her clients have won and retained hundreds of millions of dollars worth of business with many of Australia’s largest corporate and government buyers.

Had a tough year? Missed out on business you really wanted? Let’s make sure 2016 is different. The Pole Position program will position you to win the opportunities on your radar for next year. Email info@robynhaydon.com or call 03 9557 4585 to find out more.