A day in the life of an ancient Business Developer
Life used to be so fluid. How I miss it. I think.
My average week as a business developer would consist of half a dozen train journeys the length and breadth of the country. I’d consume gallons of coffee of varying degrees of quality. Lunch on the hoof- often a sandwich and a bag of crisps. All too often a chocolate bar.
I would tap out emails on my phone, crammed into a busy train seat. LinkedIn and Twitter were visited and commented upon when I remembered….someone back at the office took care of the regular content.
I’d meet (face to face!) with strategic partners. Some of long-standing, often now good friends. Some newly introduced- hopefully friends and allies of the future. Many of our meetings would take weeks to organise, because synchronising locations so that we could meet was tricky. We were busy!
We would sit in cafes and hotels, exploring ways of working together and helping each other, then we would part and some of the discussed actions would take place. Not all.
I would meet prospective clients, again sometimes struggling to arrange a suitably speedy slot in our respective diaries. We were busy!
Then it’d be back on a busy train and home late in the evening or else there’d be an overnight in a Travelodge, and more similar meetings the day after. There would be evening events with networking in stuffy rooms drinking beer or wine. Or both. Conference speaking and exhibition standing- strangely exhausting to be on your feet and on display all day.
A day in the office would involve achieving very little, as there were lots of catch up conversations to be had. Some work-related. Many involving just how poor my beloved Man U have been lately, with my Merseyside friends. But the actions to be taken following my various meetings would add to an ever-growing ‘To Do’ list. We were busy!!
Working from home now and again would give me chance to catch up, very much in a ‘head down, phone on silent, plough through backlog’ kind of way.
So what is my life las a business developer like now?
Commuting is no longer a train or a drive, often for hours in bad traffic, or dealing with delays. It’s a stroll downstairs to my desk, via a shower, some yoghurt and a coffee. Only one coffee a day now. Lots of water these days.
A check of my diary. The week ahead is busy. But strangely I can see that two weeks ahead my diary is nowhere near as full as it used to be when swathes of it would be blocked off for travel.
I find now that any meeting, whether with a strategic partner or a new prospect can be arranged very quickly – we are all poised at desks, diaries to hand, and finding an hour slot for a Teams or Zoom call is so much easier than trying to figure ‘when are we both next in Birmingham’.
Conferences and exhibitions are no more. Webinars are the fashion, though like many we are still striving to understand the best ways to engage with the market without those face to face throngs. The LinkedIn world is far busier. Everyone has jumped onto it, as if it were a networking life raft. I guess it may well prove to be so, but learning how best to utilise it, and avoiding being part of the noise. That’s the trick.
My to-do list is managed using our portal and its task management tool. I’m far better at following up on agreed actions (hopefully my network chums will agree), and new enquiries are picked up and progressed far more speedily. A good tip is to build slots of time into your diary after a meeting which gives you a specific opportunity to action everything discussed. We are busy!
We took time a few weeks back to start a redesign of our business development and marketing plans. I can heartily recommend it. In fact, I’d say it’s an absolute necessity. We all need new ways of reaching our prospective customers. New ways of communicating with our existing clients, and contacts. We need improved strategies for social media – online presence, publishing channels and networking. We need to stand out from the hubbub. Regular, relevant, non-salesy output is key.
Perhaps even more crucially, the new world has shown the strength of some relationships- true karma marketing, as the years of discussion and support with our allies has morphed into strategic group approaches to customer messaging. Friends are looking out for one another.
Like many of my Cashroom colleagues, I’ve never been quite so productive. Teams and Zoom calls for most internal and external meetings, with the occasional phone call (a blessed relief!), and secure tech has meant I can do everything from my desk. I am busy!
So…I miss the trains, the somewhat chaotic lifestyle, the face to face meetings that used to be required of a business developer. I think some of those things will return, though we will all assess the need to travel very differently, and I’d suggest it’s likely we will decide many journeys are not essential and indeed trying to schedule them can lead to delays.
We can be fast, responsive, efficient. We can be busy!