The B2B Business Development Management Skills Gap

Ed Marsh | Sep 2, 2014

"The 'skills gap' is real"

"...Nevertheless, employers still have real difficulties hiring workers with the skills to deal with new technologies. 

Why are skills sometimes hard to measure and to manage? Because new technologies frequently require specific new skills that schools don’t teach and that labor markets don’t supply. Since information technologies have radically changed much work over the last couple of decades, employers have had persistent difficulty finding workers who can make the most of these new technologies.HBR Blog, James Besson
If you're an advanced manufacturer no doubt you spend lots of time talking about how to find the right folks with the right skills to scale your growth.

Expert machinists, for example, are always in demand.  And you've probably created some internal training program to take the good ones you find and get them up to your company standard.

But what if the 'skills gap' is in the executive suite?

b2b_business_devlopment_skills_gap_and_management

What if the new technologies which are enabling process excellence in business development are too unfamiliar to senior management to really understand how they can be properly applied to your business? 

Sure it's kind of cute to gruffly cuss with your golf buddies about how incredibly inane Twitter is.  You've got a common vibe going and feel some kinship.  And it could be that Twitter is entirely irrelevant to your business.

But here's the bottom line.  >90% of all B2B purchases begin with an internet search and buyers are now more than 70% of the way through their buying process before they're willing to talk to a rep.

And if you're ignorant of the best practices to ensure you're found in those searches and sell those buyers who won't talk to you yet, then you're a liability to the company you manage.

You only have to know enough to manage

In a perfect world every manager would be as capable in each skill and discipline as their best employee.  That's not realistic - and so you delegate not only for time management purposes but also to let the best folks work their magic.

You don't need to know all, or even most of the detail of different functions.  But just as you need to know enough accounting to sleep easily at night with your personal guarantee exposure and to be confident your controller isn't embezzling, similarly you need to know enough about digital marketing to determine if your company is maximizing the opportunity and to avoid being sold a "bill of goods."  After all, how many times have you heard a fellow business owner lament the amount they spent on SEO with no measurable results?

And how do you know if your marketing "guru" really is?  If their primary qualification is that they know more than you - when you don't know enough to gauge what they know - you're likely to squander resources AND opportunity. 

Business grade B2B marketing

That's why some companies turn to consultants (vs. agencies or staff hires) to explore best practices and options. 

If that's an option you're considering, make sure the consultant has at least a couple gray hairs AND cutting edge digital marketing credentials.  Only someone whose walked in your shoes, and your prospects', can really advise on how to craft a strategy and which tactics to leverage.

In fact, find a consultant who understands the approach to process excellence that you use in your manufacturing and operations, and can apply a similar approach to your business development - complete with metrics, KPIs and an ROI.