The Changing World of Business Development Reviewed by Momizat on . Rethinking the Role of Your BD Team (Part II of II) In the November 2020 post, an alternative way to structure your firm’s BD efforts that relies less on a cent Rethinking the Role of Your BD Team (Part II of II) In the November 2020 post, an alternative way to structure your firm’s BD efforts that relies less on a cent Rating: 0
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The Changing World of Business Development

Rethinking the Role of Your BD Team (Part II of II)

In the November 2020 post, an alternative way to structure your firm’s BD efforts that relies less on a central “rainmaker,” and more on an integrated team. In this post, the focus is on how to execute the various activities involved in BD, such as hiring, outsourcing, or cross-training existing staff. For this exercise, do not get hung up on specific titles; in reality, team members’ skills and interests are more important than their titles. Your BD team structure might look something like what is discussed here.

Rethinking Activities and Roles on your BD Team

The business development (BD) activities that a firm uses to attract, nurture, qualify, and close new business can vary depending on one’s industry and marketing strategy. In a large, complex organization, there might be multiple individuals performing these activities, while in smaller firms, a single individual might function in multiple roles.

In an earlier post, I discussed an alternative way to structure your firm’s BD efforts that relies less on a central “rainmaker,” and more on an integrated team. In this post, I will focus on how to execute the various activities involved in BD, such as hiring, outsourcing, or cross-training existing staff. For this exercise, do not get hung up on specific titles; in reality, team members’ skills and interests are more important than their titles. Your BD team structure might look something like this:

Researcher—A researcher can help answer a variety of questions to reduce risk and accelerate new business for your firm. Examples of these questions include which markets to pursue, how to price services, what your real differentiators are, and which channels are most efficient for reaching your target audience. Unless your firm is of a substantial size, this type of research is often outsourced, while prospect research on specific firms and individuals is generally handled in-house.

Strategist—Your strategist takes your research insights and turns it into a formal strategy and marketing/BD plan to guide your team. Remember that good implementers are not necessarily good planners, and vice versa. Gaining an outside perspective on this activity—from someone who is not buffeted by internal politics—can often help.

Digital Specialist—Because of the dramatic growth within the digital space, most firms need certain types of specific digital expertise, such as search engine optimization, marketing automation, and analytics. Based on research my firm has done, outsourcing some or all of these functions can be a viable approach, as many of them are not needed on a daily basis.

Outreach Specialist—From coordinating guest posts to speaking engagements, this team member reaches out to secure placements and partnerships. The most successful people in this role have good organizational skills and are pleasantly persistent. These activities are not usually a full-time need, so they are frequently outsourced.

Implementation Support—This role has some similarities to that of BD support in the Rainmaker Model. It is mainly focused on implementing BD plans by setting up appointments, preparing slide decks for webinars, or providing basic graphic design services. Such tasks are often handled by a mix of internal and external resources.

Subject Matter Expert (SME)—This individual has the core technical expertise that you want to showcase, although they themselves may not be the best at sharing it or closing the sale. In most cases, this is an in-house person, although retaining an outside Visible Expert as part of your team can either deepen or expand your bench and add credibility and trust.

Presenter—A polished presenter can elevate your firm’s content and inspire confidence by sharing their expertise in a live or recorded format. Some SMEs have this skill, but many do not.

Writer—As noted in relation to presentation skills, not all SMEs are strong writers. For this reason, many firms employ or engage outside writing or editorial talent to convey their expertise.

Networker—Networking can still be a valuable part of BD, although it has expanded to include using digital channels to make connections for your firm and build visibility for your expertise. Some SMEs excel at these activities, and others do not. Consider tapping your firm’s junior talent, some of whom may be eager to play a role in promoting your firm’s expertise online.

Proposal Preparation—Proposals can play a major role in how some firms seek and win new business. If your firm relies on proposals as a regular feature of your BD activity, it is essential to have this skill set on your BD team. However, if large, complex proposals come along less frequently, you might opt to hire outside support only when you need it.

Closer—This central BD activity requires both skill and talent. Closers are typically in-house staff and are sometimes teamed with an SME for greater impact.

Operational Leadership—Last but not least, someone needs to make all your BD activities happen according to plan. This person must both understand the strategy and be able to navigate day-to-day challenges. Typically an internal position, this role may be outsourced if the bulk of lead generation and nurturing is also outsourced.

Expect More from your BD Efforts

In today’s digital-driven marketplace, many firms’ BD activities are becoming more complex, requiring a much broader skill set. The Team Model offers firms a much better way of structuring their BD team—and the roles discussed here can be an effective way of delegating the various interdependent processes involved.


Lee W. Frederiksen, PhD, is Managing Partner at Hinge, the leading branding and marketing firm for the professional services. Hinge conducts groundbreaking research into high-growth firms and offers a complete suite of services for firms that want to become more visible and grow.

Dr. Frederiksen can be contacted at (703) 391-8870 or by e-mail to LFrederiksen@hingemarketing.com.

The National Association of Certified Valuators and Analysts (NACVA) supports the users of business and intangible asset valuation services and financial forensic services, including damages determinations of all kinds and fraud detection and prevention, by training and certifying financial professionals in these disciplines.

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