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The Business Developer Friend: The transformation of business development as a result of COVID-19 (Episode 4)

During COVID, business developers who could select partners in the right way, even in the most difficult times, have been able to remain successful. Selection is an important element of continuous development, as those who develop with their customers are the ones who can really survive and succeed in the market. Even more so for those who are ahead of their customers. Not miles away, but enough that they can still be seen in the sky with a naked eye.

A secret circle of partners

If you look at the business development consultancy firms that were poised for success in 2020, you will find a number of common points. One of the many common features is a selection mechanism that is often incomprehensible to the outside observer. Even for a professional close to the industry, it takes several years to clearly identify the methodology of selection. This is when I really realise how conscious the work that goes on in this field is. If you look around the business development market in terms of revenue and profit, it is clear that some domestic consultants emerged victoriously from the challenges of the 2020s. Looking at the portfolios of these companies, one important common feature is immediately apparent, and that is the lack of transparency of the customer and partner base. It takes some serious Google search skills to at least have a good chance of identifying a partner. They certainly do not like advertising partnerships, which is apparently a conceptual issue for them. Yet one would expect the opposite. After all, these companies should live off references, because who will find them if you can’t even read about them? And then there is the other question: how do they manage to stay in the background after a success when everyone else would be quick to brag about it? Not only is it impossible to extract information, but even in the interviews and conversations, it is impossible to extract anything about these relationships from the interviewees. The real surprise, of course, is that despite this, they are showing serious revenue growth, so somehow they are still being found by businesspeople and companies looking to develop their businesses in the broader world. It is no coincidence to hear from many quarters in these circles how grateful an owner or top executive is to the “link” that brings such partnerships to fruition. Domestic businesses in particular often keep a manager for this reason alone, as it was them who may have brought the business to the developer years ago.

Strategic surprise

At first, you might think that the representatives of these consultancies simply don’t like to be on stage, and it might be safer to stay in the background. Then, after a few private conversations, one gains insights into more exciting arguments that are more logical and more convincing than the “I don’t like to be on stage” approach. One of these is, for example, the competition. It is very important that when a brand-new strategy is being built, competitors cannot prepare for it, should not expect it, because often the element of surprise alone is enough to succeed. Therefore, it is not so practical if it is obvious to anyone in the market that the company is receiving very strong strategic support, because it quickly attracts attention, and the surprise effect is lost. Of course, one could say that in certain circles, everyone has a strategic adviser now, so why all the fuss. On the one hand, this is simply not true for domestic companies, which can prepare for the big launch nicely and quietly, and on the other hand, for international companies, as long as they think they are just getting the standard multinational consulting advice, they don’t really bother, because everyone already has it. The situation becomes interesting when a “strange” strategic support appears in the background, as it is unpredictable, so that competing players cannot even prepare for future attacks. It is necessary, though, because a good strategy or a good product concept can provide an unassailable advantage and, if a concept that has been developed over six months suddenly appears on the market, it is very difficult to confront it properly. It is no coincidence that more and more small, domestic companies are able to surprise the world. And not just with the brand-new products that have always been typical of start-ups, but also with their conceptual and strategic design.

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The Business Developer Friend: The transformation of business development as a result of COVID-19 (Episode 3)