Business Development Training: Focus on your “Home” Dept? Maybe not

Services Deliverers who aim to be Rainmakers usually think that what they really, really want is a relationship with the key person in their “Home Department”. Accountants probably want to pitch to the FD, IT consultants the CIO, Surveyors the Facilities Director, Lawyers, Head of Legal.

Most consider it to be a success to be able to pick up the phone and chat to them.

Why do I suggest Rainmakers also pay attention to line-of-business management?

The Home Dept. is typically a trailing indicator of demand for your services, not a leading indicator. You’ll usually find that it was a business change , requirement for new behavior, competitor change, sudden change in performance up or down that created the demand for your services.

IT matters don’t always start as IT matters.
They often derive from someone saying something like “Couldn’t we use technology to cut our costs here / Improve our responsiveness / Flexibility”.
Some readers may be thinking, “What about when IT upgrades their servers. Isn’t that the start of the deal?” For that example maybe. However I suggest that it would be of benefit to understand why the business needs more / better / faster capacity and who in the business originated it.

I think you’ll find that the line-of-business managers, out there in customer facing positions trigger much of demand for your services. They’re the first to be aware of the business issue that may later become an IT issue, or require an IT component to its solution. If you participate in those discussions you’re very likely to know about opportunities or threats before the company’s team know about it.
If you’re part of that early conversation, because you understand it more and can influence the thinking (write the spec) your odds of being chosen to participate in the solution go up a lot.
By the time it’s defined as an IT issue, you enter the game as a vendor begging for a slice of the pie.

I suggest that using a higher level industry or company level issue may well be the key that opens the door for you. You can differentiate by your knowledge of the business issues as well as the great services you deliver.