Business development
for professionals

How to win business development gold medals

When cycling coach Dave Brailsford set about formulating a strategy for improving the performance of the UK cycling team in advance of the Beijing Olympics, he settled upon a simple approach. Improve every minute aspect of the bike and the performance of the rider by a small margin in each case, and that will add up to a significant difference.

Brailsford called it the aggregation of marginal gains.

Why is this helpful when training professionals in business development?

In my experience of providing outsourced business development training and support for professionals, I am often faced with the following assertions:

• I don’t need to improve my LinkedIn profile, because my clients don’t use it
• What’s the point of writing articles?
• Networking events don’t lead to new business
• I don’t enjoy public speaking
• Social Selling is a waste of time

Getting buy-in for a wide spectrum of BD initiatives is often very challenging.

However, I find utilising the aggregation of marginal gains theory is a helpful, and more palatable, way of impressing the need for a broad range of BD activity.

The benefit is that staff will understand that BD success is built upon a platform of complementary skills and new business is frequently won from a variety of sources and inputs coming together. Take one away, and it can weaken the whole. Conversely, the better you are at multiple approaches, the more success you are likely to have.

There is undoubted merit in persuading BD doubters and sceptics of the benefits of performing small, manageable BD activity every day. The most successful professionals realise the importance of continually improving every aspect of their BD activity even if only by a small percentage.

Should the modern professional be borrowing improvement methodologies from elite athletes? I think so – with 43 Olympic cycling gold medals since 2008 as evidence that success can be achieved with small, multiple improvements.

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