McAuliffe said the four BD challenges facing businesses are:
- Opportunity Focus – Not enough quality leads in the pipeline to support revenue projections
- Customer Focus – Customers assume disorganization when they receive calls from multiple people
- Knowledge Repository – Cannot find information to make fast, smart business decisions
- BD Process – Business processes cannot be institutionalized across the enterprise for consistent, predictable results
Below are more details on each challenge.
McAuliffe explained that the “funnel” of opportunities has to be longer and narrower than in the past, as obtaining contracts has become hypercompetitive. The wide part of the funnel consists of numerous available opportunities, while the narrow part contains the opportunities for which contractors actually submit bids. The “liquid” from the funnel is contracts won.
Contractors need a 360-degree view of BD, operations and executive management, according to McAuliffe. Strategic development is necessary before every call. McAuliffe recounted how often he has seen sales teams strategizing in the lobbies of client facilities. Proper strategizing has the advantage of presenting a single message to the customer.
McAuliffe stressed that a centralized knowledge base needs to be accessible 24 hours-a-day, with mobile capability. Post-award information is just as important because of the growing role past performance plays in procurement decisions.
He notes that some companies actually still keep pivotal information in personal e-mail accounts or file drawers. Time, effort and energy are maximized and efficiency is minimized with such a repository.
The bottom line is that contractors need to send a unified message about who they are and what they can do for customers.
McAuliffe blames mergers and acquisitions as a major factor in BD processes differing across an organization. He strongly recommends publishing an official process that the entire company can use. The process leads to fact-based decisions, which are much better than hunches as a basis for investing in potential opportunities.