It’s no secret I watch the show Gold Rush on Discovery. I find the individuals on the show interesting and am always fascinated by the ingenuity displayed in the repairs made to big equipment in one of the more remote places on Earth. Those who run the operations are always calculating how much pay dirt they must run through a wash plant in order to extract a target number of ounces of gold in a season. Pay dirt is the level of earth that yields the desired mineral, in this case, gold.
That’s right, the payout is measured in ounces. To extract those mere ounces of gold, the miners must “wash” thousands of tons of pay dirt through a relatively crude wash plant that separates the gold from the dirt. When you see a mine from a distance or from overhead, it’s almost unimaginable that so much dirt must be combed to produce the yield.
I know plenty of business developers who operate with this same mindset. Their actions in working their way through an agency org chart searching for the buyer look similar to the gold miner. They’ll lower the blade of their bulldozer, be it a Rolodex, email barrage, or trolling through a trade show, in hopes that they’ll find the equivalent of gold specs they might cash in.
Contrast this with oil production, and there’s a completely different process. It’s been said searching for oil is like trying to put a straw in an orange. It’s harder than it looks.
It also takes some idea where the land will be surveyed and sampled before deciding to place the derrick and drill for oil. Seismic surveys and test holes long precede actual drilling. It makes little sense to drill where the probability of finding oil doesn’t support the effort.
And it’s a lot of effort. Specialized equipment will ultimately drill a hole, create a well casing, flush the well pipe, and manage well pressures long before the first drop is even seen.
Sound familiar? Oil exploration is an awful lot like the thoughtful alignment of your business capability with an understood federal need, a funded requirement, and a timeline that makes sense for you, the customer, and the end user.
Pro-Tip—the customer and end user are almost never the same person or office.
I observe too many business developers doing the equivalent of mining for gold because that’s what they know how to do—work their Rolodex, walk the halls, go to trade shows, and talk to anyone who will listen. It may work, but it’s exhausting and results in the equivalent of ounces of precious metal.
Try this instead:
Step back for one week
– Sometimes stepping back allows you to leap ahead
Focus on where the funding is
– Do you know what the budget documents say about your capability or program? If not, you are committing business development malpractice.
We’re in the middle of hearing season, yet you’re likely not watching
– Are you paying any attention to what is said in testimony?
– Every week part of your customer constellation is offering insights
Identify the multiple decision makers in your customer constellation
– It’s amazing how much public information is now available via LinkedIn that simply did not exist five years ago
Identify the trade shows and objectives for each show that truly make sense for you for the coming 12 months.
These few tips can improve your business development probability of success in a matter of weeks, if you stop following the pack and do your own homework.
I’ll ask again, are you working the land like you’re mining for gold or drilling for oil? Both work, but can you afford to be doing both?
Will you be at the XPONENTIAL XPO23 in Denver, CO from May 8-11th? I will be hosting a session titled – Government Deals Are Funded, Not Sold: How To Effectively Drive Powerful Outcomes on Tuesday, May 09, 2023: 4:00 PM – 4:45 PM. Learn more here.
Save the date. Join me Tuesday, July 18th, 2023 at 11 AM EDT for a 30-minute live session titled: How to Finish the Fiscal Year Strong! Register here.