In today’s data-driven world, it seems like it should be easy to use technology to improve any business process. Simply collect data, analyze it, and develop a new system. Problem solved.
Reality can be much different, especially with professional services firms. Professional services firms rely on relationship-driven sales and often, technology is viewed as a burden that does not drive business value. The complex nature of relationship-based sales makes all parts of the business more nuanced than a manufacturing, consumer goods, or retail company.
The business development function, which is meant to drive revenue, is one area that is particularly challenging. For many professional services firms, it is imperative that their staff successfully adopt technology into their sales process while remaining productive and engaged with their customers. However, there are many ways to hone the business development process without sacrificing the relationships at the heart of it all.
Business Development Has Clear Areas for Improvement
- Challenges with collaboration, cross-selling, and upselling
- The view that CRM and other technology systems are an adminstrative strain
- Lack of BD ROI (business development return on investment) data
- A go/no-go, bidding, and approval process that is onerous or untimely, inhibiting competitiveness and relationship building
- Bid managers who spend excessive time prepping each proposal instead of developing consistency and synergy across proposals
- The inability to establish a standardized enterprise proposal process without impacting or degrading win chance
- Losing bids that are not coming in at the right number
- Lack of enforcement of appropriate enterprise-wide cost models and pricing tiers
- Regionalism or departmentalism preventing roll-up forecasting or pipeline analysis
- Lack of visibility into key and critical staff-able resources for proposals
It is clear that there are inefficiencies across the business development workflow. It is not just one thing that needs to change; the entire pursuit must be improved.
Pinpointing Weaknesses in the Business Development Pipeline
- Accelerating the Proposal Process: Proposals for professional services firms require a significant investment on behalf of the firm in order to be competitive. This investment is often wasted through the production of a proposal that should be a repeat or a core competency, but in the bid cycle, is treated as a one-off. Technology focused on the bid and proposal management process can create synergies among numerous proposals, codify pricing models, and build in approvals to reduce proposal down-time.
- Managing Backlog: To continue to drive growth in revenue, business development teams need to manage their backlog of prospects. This is not just a list of possible future clients. Instead, business development should leverage technology to facilitate ongoing conversations and relationship building with these prospects, so they can move them to the next phase when the time is right.
- Facilitating Go/No-Go: In business development, sometimes the Pursuit phase persists for too long, resulting in wasted time and money. Alternatively, when the process is overly accelerated, the organization faces a higher level of risk. Developing a clear go/no-go decision-making process for when to continue pursuing prospects can improve overall resource allocation.
- Improving Bid Accuracy: It is always challenging to determine how much to charge in a value-based model. Prices depend on many factors including cost structures and industry dynamics. Advanced analytical capabilities are needed to determine the appropriate pricing structure for different professional services clients.
- Improving Win-Rate: The goal of business development is to win more clients. Better data inputs and analytics, along with more streamlined processes, can improve a company’s win-rate and acquire more chances at bat.
- Improving Risk Management: There is always a risk that a prospect will not turn into a client or that a client will not be a good long-term partner. Risk management provides greater visibility into each prospect’s risk profile.
- Improving Business Development ROI: An accurate ROI calculation must include the costs of all the inputs in the process. These should include the steps from pursuit to close weighed against the incoming revenue. This can be difficult to estimate, but improved data collection and analysis can help determine how to optimize and improve ROI. For growing firms, effectively measuring performance on investment versus bids won is critical.
All of the Added ROI, None of the Added Burden
- Losing bids to price and structure
- Spending excessive time prepping each and every proposal, and instead developing synergies to speed up the proposal process
- Determining the costs incurred to win business
- Identifying unknown or unmanaged risks that are materializing and disrupting project execution
- Slow approval processes negatively affecting responsiveness to internal and external needs
We have helped companies improve their ROI by:
- Gaining better visibility into the entire sales pipeline. Our tools integrate with many back-office systems such as ERP, financial systems, and individual project management tools to make these improvements seamless.
- Improving the rate at which bids and proposals are generated and approved. Mobile capabilities make it possible for reviews to get done on the go. Timelines are important in the professional services industry, where prospects are often approached by multiple service providers at the same time.
- Developing more competitive bids. Our solution develops pricing models for bids and proposals that ensure contracts are appropriately sized and margins are protected before execution begins.
Beating the competition. Our technology shows actual resource costs that pair with competitive revenue models. With a more streamlined bid process, bid managers spend less time creating one-off bids that typically harm win-rates.
Reducing revenue and margin loss. We identify and factor risk exposure up front into each bid. Assigning a monetary value to these risks supports a company’s long-term success.
Shortening the prospect Pursuit phase. Our systems streamline the decision-making process, which results in both better client and employee experiences.
Each of these improvements can have tangible results on an organization’s cost structure and potential revenue earned. These steps can result in significant improvements in the lifetime value of customers and improve employee tenure as well. When all historical and current project data is stored in one place, it is easier to continuously improve business development results.
Supercharge Business Development with the Right Partner