Ongoing business development is a prerequisite for survival in an ever changing World. So how do you go about working with new business models, introducing new offerings and winning new customers?

All too often, immature technology coupled with concerns about organisational culture have dominated the discussions in meetings within the J. Boye community. Customer behaviour is changing and it’s hard to keep up. How do you accelerate beyond the tortoise-like pace?

Inspired by Swiss entrepreneur Alain Veuve who famously said that speed is the new big, I’ve invited leading thinkers on the topic to recent group meetings to learn from their views and try to understand how you might be able to move ahead better and faster.

Business development is about storytelling

“stories are engagement machines per excellence”

This was one of the key points by Robert Minton, a US expert on business growth and change management when he visited one of our Washington DC groups. In his talk on business development, he placed content over technology.

He shared two useful reminders:

  1. telling good stories is a key way to connect
  2. business customers are still human and make buying decisions for emotional as well as rational reasons despite what they might say – stories help them decide.

More specifically – according to Robert, many start down the road of business development with one goal: Building a lead pipeline. The inherent challenge here is that many don’t do the harder, dirty, background work of understanding their true target market and opportunity. Many want to be everything to everyone.

Instead, Robert recommended a structured, targeted growth strategy. One that picks a target, segment, or industry and maxes out their potential in that segment before moving forward to the next.

He shared numerous examples of classic story structures for business storytelling and finished off by asking: What’s your story?

Key skills and different types of business development

By combining the power of asking good questions with his impressive track-record, Danish digital mastermind Hannu Vangsgaard left the members in a recent group meeting very impressed.

Digital business development was the session header and Hannu reminded us to start at the strategic level trying to answer: Why? In his view most organisations spend too much time at the tactical level tinkering with the answer to “What?”.

Most have heard of shadow IT and Hannu framed the still emerging Chief Digital Officer role as a shadow CEO, but  unfortunately too often without the mandate. Business development will not work in this context according to Hannu.

Another key discussion point was on the key competences and roles required to make business development work in a world gone digital. He shared different examples of reliance on agencies and we tried to zoom in on the key skills. According to Hannu, one of the crucial and often overlooked roles on the customer team, is the role as an architect, both from a business and technical perspective.

With credit to fellow Danish designer and innovator Troels Nørlem, another highlight in the session was this useful model which Hannu took us through:


The model looks at different types of offerings (new and existing), users (new and existing) and business models (new and existing).

Hannu certainly left me thinking that business development should start with existing users and existing offerings. This is the part circled by Troels as “incremental”.

Where would you place your business development initiatives on this model? And what’s the story?

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