How to define the role of BD in the small business contractor

I recently gave a 2 hour market overview for a small contractor at their annual management offsite meeting. My session covered many areas including the roles of Capture and Business Development. When we got to that point in the discussion, we threw in sales.

When they first asked how I define BD, I jokingly said, “The person who costs $300,000 a year and has a big budget for a lot of meals…”

They laughed politely and hinted that they had walked this path, possibly more than once, with tepid results.

Then we dived deeper.

Before COVID, BD was known for lots of breakfasts and lunches, lots of events, and classic networking. During COVID, that activity disappeared, driving BD and sales to LinkedIn, online meetings and webinars, and that old device, the phone.

Many venues have been created for various professional functions, including BD – venues such as the IDEATION group (part of Government Marketing University) and the Capitol Business Development Association, both of which meet online, although CBDA now hosts live events as well.

As the impact of the pandemic wears off, we now have a hybrid situation.

BD’s role for smaller contractors is critical, but is defined differently for each contractor. Maybe a more direct question What do you need to do to win more business?

There are always variables, but it should include:

  • Who are your current customers and are there other orders there?
  • What are your core competencies and where can they be used?
  • How do you currently find opportunities and what percentage of them are realized?
  • Is there funding for the opportunity?
  • What tools (BGov, GovTribe, GovWin, etc.) do you use?
  • Does your customer’s on-site staff have a mechanism in place to share what they hear? And are they trained to listen to opportunities?
  • Do you have a “best practices” library for determining how you won or lost specific bids?
  • Who evaluates the available opportunities?
  • Are you getting in early enough to influence the opportunity?
  • Do you know the right people in the agency you are targeting?
  • Do you have an internal mechanism to share any ideas?

These are just some of the questions we discussed.

So the resolution on BD?

It varies for small contractors where BD has to wear a lot of hats because Everyone wear many hats until you reach a certain size, range.

Time is the limiting factor as each person has limited time to focus on priorities and achieve results. By asking the right questions, you can align the organization to identify and pursue top opportunities and leverage BD effectively.

Limited resources require many small contractors to have a BD role that includes selling and collecting and sometimes taking out the junk.

And this BD person can also be the CEO.

Mark Amtower is a GovCon consultant, speaker, podcast/radio host, WashTech contributor, and author. his new book Best Practices for Government Marketing 2.0 is available from Amazon.


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