How Is FedBizOpps Useful in Business Development?

Anyone in the know in business development doesn’t get too excited if they happen to see something that looks exactly like what they are trying to bid on when searching FedBizOpps.gov (FBO). The Federal Government is supposed to post all unclassified opportunities over $25,000 on FBO. It is safe to say, however, that FBO is pretty much useless to you for bidding purposes because most of the opportunities that appear there have been discovered already by your competitors.

Your competitors may have been planning for these opportunities for a while, throughout the entire acquisition process from when the opportunity was created to the point of its culmination in a Request for Proposal (RFP) or Quote (RFQ). Rarely do you stand a chance of winning if you pick an opportunity off a website as public and popular as FBO late in the game, once a draft RFP, and especially the final RFP, has been issued. It has probably been “spoken for” or “wired” by some company that has taken its time to prepare.

Why would FBO be useful in business development, then?

It is actually useful for many purposes. Let’s take market research, for example, that every business developer should do periodically to figure out how the market is behaving, and if the company needs to adjust its course. You could use FBO to figure out which agencies buy what you sell. For example, you could search for “marketing communications.” Remember to use quotation marks if you use multiple keywords. See what contracts show up in the results. Make note of the contract titles and numbers that look especially interesting.

You will also see what companies are winning these contracts, and what companies may be issued sole source awards. Make a note of them, because these are your potential competitors or teammates. Look at the details about the contracts’ scope to zoom into the kinds of work you might be interested in bidding on.

FBO is a perfect place to learn about upcoming opportunities for educational and planning purposes and figure out what types of opportunities exist for a company like yours, and what are their key characteristics. You may not be using FBO for something to bid on, but the information on the solicitations is representative of the patterns of your potential customer agencies. You can see who buys what, how they do it, and how much and how frequently they buy.

Of course, you may indeed find some good opportunities in the early stages of procurement that don’t yet require proposals. All is not lost when the government issues a Request for Information, announces “Sources Sought,” or notifies of a “Presolicitation.” You may still have a fair shot at the opportunity if you start preparing right away.

On FBO, you can see what companies are registered to receive notifications about the RFPs and amendments. This will help you with your competitive analysis and teaming strategies. Some contracting officers may even require that your company register on FBO.

You may also use FBO for marketing yourself as an interested vendor to the government and partners.

Another great use of FBO is to find information about vendor outreach events, with its “Search Small Business Events” and “Vendor Collaboration” buttons.

As you can see, FBO has many uses – but all of them should be appropriate to your goals.

What is Business Development?

Too often, I have encountered business managers hiring Sales people and classifying them as Business Developers. The same holds true when managers call their Sales people Marketing Professionals. Main reasons behind this misclassification are twofold: First, many people DO NOT understand what the differences are between sales, marketing, and business development. Second, organizations do not accurately recognize which of these functional areas need help to drive revenue and how they compliment each other. These misunderstandings of disciplines cause unrealistic expectations and failure to achieve goals.

Business Development (Biz-Dev) is often misunderstood. It is often times mistaken as purely a sales role and other times as a marketing initiative. Well, it is a little of both, but it is also much more. Understanding what Biz-Dev is and what it does can focus the strategic direction of an enterprise, which ultimately creates new opportunities. Biz-Dev can be sales oriented, but it also can act as an operational function to support sales. Biz-Dev supplements marketing, sales, operations, and management. All of these functions are dependent upon each other. Biz-Dev is part sales, part marketing, part strategy, part planning, and part management. Biz-Dev can also work on promotion of an enterprise or even relationship building functions.

Isn’t a business developer’s main job expected to generate sales? Isn’t the lifeblood of business driven by sales? Yes, the ultimate business goal of an enterprise is to gain and grow sales. Even non-profit organizations need to raise money to survive. Without sales there is no revenue, without revenue there is no working capital, no working capital means no sustainability, and so forth. However, all units in an organization affect the outcome of sales. A company must define its purpose and objectives within their business plan. Upper management must communicate directives to staff and control processes. Employees are accountable to perform duties within their unit of responsibility. All units must work cohesively with their output contributing to the common goal of the company. For example, marketing cannot initiate a promotional campaign without input from finance, otherwise budgets and production costs will soon run into chaos.

Simply said, Biz-Dev is management process that uses resources available to an organization and coordinates plan activities to achieve goals. Sometimes the goal is increased sales, but other times an organization needs improvement or aid in another part of its operation. Examples that are not exactly sales oriented include business planning, administrative refinement, market research, finance, general management, and more. The bottom line is Biz-Dev can perform multiple initiatives to achieve a goal that will improve a functional business process resulting in opportunity. Think of Biz-Dev as project management for sales.

Understanding the various roles Biz-Dev can perform will improve the focus of your enterprise and help achieve its goals.

11 Step New Business Development Process – Stick to it and Grow Your Business

There is an old saying “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there.” The following 11 step process is a road map for identifying, tracking and landing new business. Unfortunately I can’t do justice to the process in one article but I hopefully will provide you with a good overview. In my seminars and workshops I have found this process helpful to many small business owners. Seeing the big picture of new business development, recognizing areas of missed opportunities and assisting in the elimination of that overwhelming feeling can move an entrepreneur to utilize the many marketing tools available to increase their business.

Warning: Do not expect to do this all yourself. Consider a family member or friend to help. An administrative assistant is a worthwhile investment, if you can afford it. Make sure they want to do the job and they understand your business.

1. Goal Setting – Pick a dollar figure you wish to attain for the year. Make it realistic. A desired salary is a good starting point. A financial goal is needed to help work out how much business must be conducted.

2. Prospect List – There are many places to acquire prospect lists. You usually have to purchase them but not always. Remember, you get what you pay for. Get lists from list brokers, associations, magazines, networking groups, Chamber of Commerce, and other companies with similar target groups to yours. You tend to pay more money for newer more accurate and more specific information.

3. Qualifying Prospect Call – No matter where you get a list or prospect name you must do 2 things. Check the accuracy of the information and make sure this contact is in fact the real prospect. Do Not Try To Sell Over The Phone at this stage.

4. Database – Take the prospect information out of the shoebox and put the information onto a database. There are many inexpensive contact management software packages available. They will make your prospecting 10 times more efficient and effective.

5. Lead Generation Package – No cold calls. Before you make a contact with a prospect send out a lead generation package. This could be a post card or letter or simple flyer. Printed and mailed is better than faxing. All you want to do is whet their appetite. Tell them a little about your product or service. Who you are, what you do, why you are different.

6. Lead Generation Follow-up Call – Make sure they have seen your lead generation piece. Determine if they can use your product or service. Do Not Try To Sell Over The Phone at this stage. Set a meeting; put a face to a name for your benefit and for theirs. (If your product or service lends itself to telephone sales and it is not cost effective to meet in person, go ahead with the sell.)

7. (A) Interested or Immediate Need – This means you will need to have a first meeting/presentation.

(B) No Need – Track them with follow-up calls, newsletters etc. If they have no need now, they may need you in the future or this contact may move on and be replaced.

8. Meeting Presentation Package – You are not going in to do a huge elaborate presentation; because you don’t know what they need yet. Remember, your job is to find out what they need. Rule for first meetings is 80% listening and 20% talking. You may also, at this time, introduce some additional information on your company.

9. Proposal – Could be in written form and sent in or preferably presented in person. Either way you have a limited amount of attention from your audience. When in person you have a limited amount of physical time. Ask how long you have before you get there. Avoid unnecessary background, review the opportunity and get to the point quickly. Backup data and more information on your company can be included in the written proposal. If the audience wants to know more they will ask or review it later.

10. (A) First Job – Congratulations, remember it is an opportunity to prove yourself, don’t blow it. Follow-up make sure everything went well. Many unhappy customers won’t tell you. They just stop calling.

(B) No Immediate Need – Track prospect send newsletters etc. Circumstances change. Your job is to get on their shopping list, preferably at the top.

11. Ongoing Relationship – Introduce new products/or services keep in touch. It’s your responsibility to stay top of mind with them. Out of Sight Out of Mind.

Business Development Consultants Share Experience, Know-How

Most business people can say that they have been involved in a situation where they later determined that they hadn’t seen the whole picture, and as a result they didn’t solve a problem or take advantage of an opportunity like they maybe should have. In other words, they didn’t see for forest for the trees. This type of situation is the primary reason why business development consulting is important.

Regardless of the situation, business development consulting can be an important step in the life of any business. With an experienced consultant, owners and managers of a company can learn new ways of doing things, or just bounce ideas off of a well-versed coach. This is someone who may have been in a very similar situation, and can teach others how to deal with such a situation effectively, efficiently, and most importantly, profitably.

Business development consulting gives company owners and managers first-hand experience in dealing with situations, whether problems or opportunities. Unlike books or many workshops, the owners have the benefit of a consultant’s full attention, as well as the opportunity to get answers to direct, real-world problems. Advice is not based on a lot of theory. It is real-world guidance to deal with concrete problems.

In recent years, these types of professionals have enjoyed exponential growth, due mainly to the success stories that have been told by their former clients.

Whether the situation has to do with financing, accounting, marketing, sales, administration or other areas of a company, there is probably a consultant that is available for the task, one who will give owners and managers the benefit of their knowledge, the good as well as the bad.

It is also important to note that just as is the case with any financial expense, since development consultants are not employees, their cost is a tax-deductible expense. They can be used when a company is considering expansion into foreign or domestic markets, or when an underdeveloped market in a foreign country is suspected.

Most importantly, these consulting professionals can offer experience and solutions from as wide or as narrow a scope as an owner or manager desires. Whether it’s an issue of making a company grow in general, or to focus on a particular aspect of marketing, sales and accounting, designing, development or a new product, service or project, a business development consultant can make the difference between success and failure.