Business Development... Spotlight

1 December 2021

This quarter Peter Jubb talks about the important role business development plays within companies and shares insight into our business development audit process.

So why the focus on business development Peter?

Well, I’ve been working in business development for over 20 years across several disciplines and this experience tells me that successful work winning in the built environment is a function of your capability, not just in business development itself, but also marketing and sales.

What I don’t think happens particularly well is distinguishing between these three areas. They often get grouped together and, in some cases, one person is expected to undertake them all which can create challenges.

How would you differentiate each area?

1. Business Development

Business development’s largely a strategic activity concerned with the following:

  • Devising a business model and strategy that meets the aspirations of the owners
  • Setting the high-level business objectives
  • Identifying the key sectors and clients you aspire to work with
  • Forging relationships with clients to understand their strategies/plans
  • Defining your overriding aspiration for the business – what is its ‘Just Cause’ (reference Simon Sinek, The Infinite Game). For more information on maximising your work winning capability, check out our latest blog here.
2. Marketing

An operational and creative function designed to provide the support infrastructure to business development. Key activities include:

  • Market research including sectors and clients and building insight into the clients’ world
  • Developing value propositions based on customer insight
  • Building a communications support network (website/social media platforms/corporate literature)
  • Developing the brand
  • Understanding routes to market and procurement methods
  • Utilising bid writing and management skills
3. Sales

An operational and persuasive activity designed to convince the customer that your value propositions satisfy their needs better than competitors, overcoming objections along the way and closing the sale at the end of the process.

Do you find businesses have the right development capability either internally or externally to deliver their business plan?

For business development to be undertaken competently, it requires a number of facets. Like any other professional discipline such as architecture, it is a unique skill, honed over a number of years.

What do these facets comprise?

  • A strategic mindset in terms of the growth and development potential of your own business and those of your customers
  • The ability to align work generation activities with the business model
  • Being able to form relationships with a high degree of emotional intelligence and focus on customer needs
  • Working to defined return on investment (ROI) targets
  • Having tenacity and diligence in the following up of bids
  • Research skills to understand customers, sectors, competitors, industry influences and the macro environment
  • Ideally, the ability to write bids
  • An inquisitive mind that’s forever curious!

The options you have to acquire this capability are three-fold…

  • Outsource to business development consultants
  • Develop people in-house
  • Combine the above

New business generation’s founded upon building relationships; how do you see the blend of virtual and face-to-face communications working in this respect, given the on-going challenges of the pandemic?

During lockdown periods of the Covid-19 pandemic, the virtual world was the only option to attempt new business generation. The issue was gaining access to the right people and overcoming the challenges of the loss of face-to-face benefits, such as being together in a physical environment, reading body language and expressing personality.

People endeavoured to leverage their connections to set up virtual meetings, join formal and informal networking events and sending customers good quality information, such as capability statements or relevant case studies. As we’re emerging to some extent, back to face-to-face contact (which many people would argue there’s no substitute for in new relationship building and work generation), how do you decide what’s best?

As we can now offer a blended version, it might be better to offer the customer the face-to-face option first alongside a virtual meeting to begin with.

Time’s precious and customers are more acutely aware than ever of how they want to use it. They may for instance prefer a virtual meeting to sound out the conversation prior to committing to a face-to-face meeting, involving more time and expense. This is an evolving landscape and not as one dimensional as it may have previously been.

This is where skilled business development operators can decipher the code through experience and intuition.

Why design and develop a business development audit?

Often businesses aren’t obtaining sufficient opportunities of the right type to pitch for or have a too high a reliance on certain sectors.

Our business development audit provides a fresh and experienced pair of eyes looking at your business development activities and follows a seven-stage process that will give you a resilient, well-researched map to set you on the path to full health.

These are just some of the questions we ask:

  • Is your business model fully defined?
  • Does your business have a distinctive personality?
  • Is your business development and marketing plan fully aligned to your business model?
  • Do you have sufficient ‘proof points’ from clients about your business? e.g. testimonials
  • Do you understand the current and future lifetime value of your existing client base?
  • Do you have a clear plan to generate new business?

Who do you involve in the process?

The business development audit’s tailored to both your needs and budget but typically will include:

  • Interviews with team members
  • Meetings with key stakeholders
  • An analysis of the current winning work methods using our seven-stage process
  • An evaluation of performance data across clients and sectors
  • Accompanied new business meetings
  • Evaluation of CRM software and prospect data
  • Review of sales materials and proposals

How’s the output delivered?

Our findings will be presented as both a written report and in-person, allowing an opportunity to discuss the outcomes and next steps which could be:

  • Implementing recommendations by their internal resources – alternatively, we could provide the required resource for the short term or ongoing basis
  • Training or coaching of their key business development team

Essentially, our structured business development audit, combined with our sector experience, aims to identify specifically where challenges are and provide recommended solutions to implement and kickstart business development activities.


How have these business development audits been received?

We’ve had some great feedback from clients where we’ve recently delivered business development audits.

During these audits, there was a strong focus on re-defining the business model and what really made the practice distinctive to its clients.

Steve Raynor of Rayner Davies architects commented:

“The BD audit process has forced us to consider each aspect of our business offer from first principles to the over-arching fundamentals of good practice, providing a measured and methodical approach to the analysis of our BD function.
“We’ve been working with Peter at Fortus for the past few months and he’s patiently guided us through the various steps of the process, towards the creation of a co-ordinated and robust business development and marketing plan.
“Whilst at times challenging, because it really makes you think hard about what you’re doing and the way it’s being done, it has been very interesting for me to take time to step back and consider things in a different light. I am confident that this will lead to a renewed and productive focus on business development and marketing activities within our practice”

Contact Peter Jubb to understand more about our business development audit and arrange a no obligation chat over coffee.