This one is written for younger BD professionals, but the ideas here will help anyone improve their value, impact, earning power and rewards around BD.
Younger folk: Ever wondered if you’re old enough? To convince buyers to buy with credibility?
Tomorrow I’m working with a group of graduates from a global professional services firm. These people are at the earlier end of their professional services BD career. Like many of their peers, they are switched on, confident, hungry to learn, keen to make their mark, earn more responsibility and have fun doing it.
Good enough to perform and grow
They’re easily ‘good enough’ to grow and fill the requirements and expectations of their current job role. Otherwise they wouldn’t have been hired. (But note, growth here is the requirement, not just for them but for all of us). If you’re ‘good enough’ and then you stay still, you cross the very thin line between ‘good enough’ and ‘not good enough’.
But they’re not immune either to fears, areas of discomfort, or vulnerabilities. They’re human. (I’ve worked with them before.)
Are they old enough?
It’s never a surprise working with younger groups when someone raises the common concern:
“Am I old enough to be credible?” (Or similar).
I felt the same when I started my business at the age of 25, and my first client was my old University where I ran a workshop that included some of my old lecturers on “how to help people learn effectively”. (The cheek!)
You can imagine the awkwardness around this. And secretly, I was terrified.
I spoke to someone prior to this potential kamikaze move about my fears and he said, “Mark, if you’re good enough, you’re old enough.”
He also added (for the benefit of the more senior folk amongst us) “and if you’re still good enough, you’re young enough.”
Obviously, that stuck with me, because it helped me (on reflection it launched my first step in business).
I decided I was “good enough” because I knew my stuff (I’d been learning all about “accelerated learning” since my childhood, so I had the knowledge to support my claims) so I felt instantly cured.
Maybe you feel instantly cured of your own self-doubts if you reframe them to, “so long as I’m good enough.”
But if not, and particularly with the case of BD, you probably need a reference point to confirm if you’re good enough.
You need to get clear on what “good”, “good enough” and “better than good enough” look like for your role and level.
It’s probably someone in your organisation’s responsibility to provide clarity on that. If they’re not doing that, maybe that’s not good enough.
But “other people” aren’t an obstacle for the readers of my blog. If you don’t have that information, there’s nothing to stop you obtaining it yourself.
First, talk to those you report to, those you work with, and anyone involved in helping you to develop. Get clear on either your KPI’s or expectations that confirm if you’re above or below the line. And check in. Ask. Don’t just guess yourself (most people have a huge bias of ranking themselves higher than they actually are. Big heads.)
Decide to be consistently better than ‘good enough’
Get confirmation of what ‘good enough’ looks like, and feels like, and also get clear on what ‘better than good enough’ looks like. Because that’s where the magic in BD happens. (After all – there’s only going to be one winner of the deal. No prize for second place.) It’s not much more effort to beat second best. Always maintain the position of ‘better than good enough’.
Nine questions to take you there:
Answer these in writing (it’s way more effective and concrete than answering in your mind):
- What’s good enough?
- What would that look like to others?
- What impact do I make on others? (Financially, commercially, and emotionally – note what you think here is often different to what they think! Get to the truth.)
- How do I stand out amongst my peers? For what in particular?
- What’s my usual consistent value to those who pay me?
- What’s my value when I’m at my best? (My proven potential)
- How easily could I be replaced?
- Would they really miss the value I provided if/when I’m gone?
- What could I do that would make impact such that it would be very hard or costly to replace me?
That last one is the key.
Get some ideas down for those, schedule the right actions, and you’ll never have to ask if you’re old enough ever again.