Guest Writer – Paul King – The Great Business Development swindle

Paul King

Personal development coach (business & leadership) | Authorised Financial Adviser

(A comedy of restructure errors)

The reference to the Sex Pistols is deliberate and in the words of John Lydon “ever get the feeling you’ve been had”?

I don’t understand why this is so difficult, so I’m going to sort this out for the ‘restructure junkies’ out there. These are immutable facts, don’t make it hard:

BDMs have targets and produce new business; they are not trainers and coaches.

Business Development IS sales

Everyone with an income target is already in Business Development

Some more immutable facts:

People that train other people are called trainers and coaches, not BDMs

People that help others fill in RFTs and make presentations are called Sales Support

Sales support people get paid a lot less than BD people

That’s it and all about it!

If you’re a Partner in a Professional Services firm, you ARE Business Development. If it says Business Development anywhere in or near your title, you ARE in sales. Any structure that gets anything about this wrong in any way is falling for The Great Business Development Swindle!

So how did we get here?

OK, it’s not my world now but for decades it was, so I get to have a say. We got here because people with ‘Business Development’ in their title make more money and some genius somewhere (I want to meet them) figured out how to get their sticky mits on the big earnings of Sales people without any of the risk! Very clever. I wish I could have persuaded the companies I worked for that this could be a thing.

Sales (Business Development) is risky, that’s why it pays more, it’s not secure, it’s hard, you need to be resourceful and cunning and resilient and enjoy the ups and downs. You have to constantly reinvigorate yourself and keep going. That’s the gig. You don’t win for too long and oops, off you go.

I think what’s happened is that somewhere along the line some businesses got convinced that they must have BD and that you have to pay lots for them because they’re special amazing people and you can’t do without them. All of that is true… but you don’t pay them big salaries, you pay them ‘OK’ salaries and offer big bonuses! If you pay them big salaries with no targets directly attributable to them (not part of what someone else did) it’s not so easy to ‘move them on to new and exciting opportunities they may find more suitable’…

Somehow some clever people figured out that the threat of not having BD was enough and so many businesses fell for it. If that’s not bad enough… now they have Business Development people with NO TARGETS, on BIG SALARIES, that are ‘trainers’ of the people that are actually the BD people – particularly bad in Professional Services – they get none of the blame and can weasel in on enough of the credit to keep getting paid. If only I could have pulled that off…

While we’re on the subject we might as well deal with Marketing, Comms, Client Experience and PR. This is also all very simple:

Marketing produces research based collateral for BD

Comms sits in Marketing, not the c-suite office and is not PR

Client Experience is part of the research and is where BD and Marketing come together

PR is part of Comms, which sits within Marketing and helps BD

Right, now we have all that cleared up, I’ll get back to Psychology 😊

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Personal development coach (business & leadership) | Authorised Financial Adviser

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