Cultivating the Next Generation of Hunters - Truths of Business Development

Posted by Amy Champigny on April 4, 2019

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Have you future-proofed business development efforts within your firm? Like many of us, you probably spend a considerable amount of time pondering the future, so I must ask, have you acted on those thoughts in preparation? We have found that most organizations spend little time thinking about succession planning and even less time creating and executing those integral plans. If there are succession plans in place, they are typically exclusive to senior leadership positions. Have you considered what might happen if a key employee in your BD organization moved on? Think about that for a moment. How many important relationships would be impacted? Would it have an effect on your firm’s ability to secure repeat business or acquire new projects? Would it slow down or impair your firm’s ability to grow in the near term?

For some, this might be a frightening train of thought. The good news is that you can prevent a significant amount of anxiety and churn with a few simple actions. Your aim should be to ensure that your BD activities will proceed as usual - even when you are faced with unplanned attrition.

Here are five things you can do right now to prepare your organization for Business Development personnel changeover without skipping a beat:

#1 Create and Execute Development Plans with a Specific Focus on Business Development Skills and Competencies

Your employees in the BD space are looking for many of the same developmental opportunities that the rest of your workforce wants, so make sure you give it to them. Ensure you are providing your existing business development employees with opportunities to learn, grow, and hone their craft. Include a variety of learning options and tie them to development plans. This entire process must be closely linked to your firm-wide strategy. Assessing the skills and competencies of your existing employees is the first step toward preparing them to take over as business development leaders in your firm.

#2 Engage in Active Succession Planning, Especially for Business Development Professionals

Many firms are facing planned departures as long-standing employees age out of the workforce. Do you have a plan in place to support transitioning both a loyal employee out and a newer employee into the role? Succession planning is not just for your CEO! To get the most out of succession planning, it’s important to consider every position in your organization. Take the time to assess whether you’re prepared for an employee to leave within the next year, two years, etc. and plan accordingly. Continually review your existing employees and revise the succession plan if potential successors move on. Take time to understand the desires of your current employees. You don’t want to identify a successor only to discover that the employee would rather move into an entirely different kind of role.


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#3 Encourage or Formalize Mentoring Relationships

Mentoring relationships are always important. As more time passes, the more I understand how powerful mentorships can actually be. Consider a formal mentoring program specifically for your BD workforce. Strong business development skills are not learned in the classroom, they are learned on the job through experience. Give your up-and-coming BD associates a head start by pairing them with existing high performers. This is also an excellent way to help existing clients get to know other members of your business development team and can preserve key relationships and future business during times of transition.

#4 Modernize Workplace Expectations to Attract and Retain Top BD Talent

Make sure you are attracting the very best and brightest. It is most definitely worth reevaluating your workplace expectations if it translates to securing the qualified talent that can help you grow your business far into the future. Think about incorporating policies around flexible work arrangements and take the time to assess whether your compensation packages are competitive. If you are on the path to prepare an existing employee to take over leadership of business development, you absolutely want to ensure that you are offering the right mix of benefits, compensation, and perks (like remote work policies).

#5 Incorporate Technology and Automate BD Activities

Map out business processes to help you figure out how to modernize your business development activities through automation. This is a great development opportunity for a budding business development leader. It also serves another purpose - as you experience a changeover in the generational composition in your firm, you’ll be able to attract and retain more talented employees if they are able leverage the technology they are accustomed to using.

Key Takeaways

Whether a key business development leader is making a planned exit or you are attempting to anticipate the unexpected - preparation will go a long way towards protecting the future of your business. The 5 tips outlined above will unquestionably improve the performance of your business development team. At the very least, your efforts will result in a well-trained and forward thinking BD team and if the unexpected happens you will be able to continuously meet your short-term and long-term growth goals.


If you missed the other blogs in this Business Development series, be sure to check these out as well:

To learn more about Deltek’s CRM solution, visit our CRM page.

For the latest in-depth look into A&E industry averages for business development, download the 39th Annual Deltek Clarity A&E Industry Study.

This blog is part of a series. To receive an automated alert when new blogs are posted – subscribe to the AEC blog on this page.


About the Author

Amy Champigny spent more than 15 years working in finance and accounting and most recently she served as Director of Finance for a management consulting group. In 2015 Amy implemented a Deltek ERP and transformed the finance function in her firm.