Why Business Development Should Care About Digital

October 20, 2014

When I first started in professional services, there was a strong feeling that Business Development and Marketing Communications were very different animals. In fact, many firms separated the functions and supported a siloed approach to information sharing and management. The original thinking being that these are two very different disciplines that require very different skills. Did I agree? Sure—I did 10 years ago.

I’ve learned a lot since then. Yes, I grew up as a Business Development guy, and will probably call myself that for a long time; however, what I have come to learn is that, just as in any great partnership, it is often necessary for two parties to work together and support each other’s strengths and weaknesses to be productive and efficient. Or, at least, that is what my wife tells me.

Don’t see how this relates to Business Development and Marketing? Say that you are at a cocktail party, and you are lucky enough to find a contact that is right in your wheelhouse (actually, there is a lot more to it than that, but I will save that for another post.). You reach the point in the conversation where the prospect says to you: “You know, we should really talk after this.” Success! Right?

Well, if you don’t have a larger cohesive BD and Marketing Communications strategy in place, this is what happens:

  • That contact that you swear will be your next sale checks you out online before she sends you an email.
  • She visits your website, she Googles you, she looks you up on LinkedIn and finds only…nothing.
  • She is left thinking that you don’t really take your business seriously, and, therefore, you won’t take her business seriously. It’s kind of like talking to someone in a bar all night and being shocked when the last call lights come up. Oops. 

It is not about doing one thing right anymore—it is about doing everything right. It is not just your handshake anymore. It is your handshake, your tweet, your retweet, how you handle yourself in a meeting, what type of referrals you get and give, what happens when they try to find you on your website while searching on their mobile device, what your proposal looks like...and, more than anything, it is about what your current clients are saying about you. And, guess what? Nearly all of it happens digitally.

Not convinced yet? Think about it this way. Digital is the ultimate level set. With a couple of exceptions, most BD people have said something like this in their career: “Wow, those guys really have more resources than we do,” or “How can I compete with firm X when they have twice as many people in house as we do?” Though some larger digital strategies can be time consuming and expensive, this is an area where you can start small and take baby steps. Connecting with all of your contacts on LinkedIn and posting content doesn’t cost a dime. If there is a simpler way to reach all of your contacts regularly for free, I am not aware of it. Of course, there is also the time objection. I don’t have time to do this; I am busy; I have other things to do. We are all busy, but these small changes do not take up your entire day. Skip the second cup of coffee in the afternoon, don’t click on that link that your friend from college sent you. We can all find 15 minutes to make these small changes. After all, remember what General Eric Shinseki, retired Chief of Staff, U.S. Army said: “If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less.”

Still need more convincing? Are you a data-fan? Modern CMS systems like Sitecore can provide the Business Development team with analytics, click patterns and contact information of your website visitors depending on the strategy that you implement. Can you say lead list?  Wouldn’t it be nice to know who read an article on your website and if that person then clicked on a related article, and then signed up for more information on a topic? Wow, isn’t that exactly what a BD guy wants? Well, that is all possible in digital marketing. Interested, yet?

Curious to learn more about mixing the two to create powerful experiences for prospective clients? Check out our #1NWebinar: Building Relationships through Interactive Storytelling to explore creative ways you can use interactive to express your brand stories and make lasting connections.


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