Good business development requires strong personal attributes, like determination, as in the commitment to achieve, empathy, as in entering into another’s feelings, confidence, as in freedom from doubt, and a host of other qualities that reflect innate instinct and vary as personalities vary. But, when does instinct become a weakness?
I once asked my dad what was one of the most significant lessons he learned in the Navy. As a torpedo pilot on the USS Yorktown CV-5 in the Pacific during World War II, navigation was a real issue. Finding the carrier or a specific island was critical if you didn’t want to ditch or bail out as the fuel tank hit empty. It was in that regard, that he said one of the most important lessons learned was to trust your instruments. Apparently, all too often, pilots would think they recognized an island, or felt that they were heading in a particular direction, only to find themselves lost.
In business development, our instincts often serve us very well. But, there is one time, early in the sales cycle, when instinct can become misleading. As business developers and account executives, the core of our job is to identify, pursue, and win opportunities. That is, the right opportunities, recognizing that all deals are not created equal. Some are more important than others and some cannot or should not be won. Yet, the instinct of many is to chase everything. If it’s warm and breathing, go after it. And, that can happen to all of us. This is where our instruments come in.
Four analytical gauges that give us a real-time objective rational to pursue, examine further, or back away from an opportunity:
Trusting our instincts is always important but checking them against our instruments during the early phases of a sales campaign will reduce business development spend and free up time for more viable pursuits, increasing win rates, to significantly drive up business development yield. And, this is to say nothing of improving sales forecasting, making it more efficient, more accurate, and less time consuming.