How to define the role of BD at the small business contractor

I recently provided a two-hour market overview for a small contractor at their annual offsite management meeting. My session covered a lot including the roles of acquisition and business development. When we got to that point in the discussion, we made a sale.

When they first asked how I define BD, I jokingly said, “The person who is worth $300,000 a year and has a large budget to eat a lot…”

They laughed politely and indicated that they had gone down that route, possibly more than once, with mild results.

Then we dived deeper.

Before COVID-19, BD had a reputation for lots of breakfasts and lunches, lots of events, classic networking. During COVID, that activity disappeared, giving way to BD and sales to LinkedIn, online meetings and webinars, and that old device, the phone.

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Many venues have been created for various work functions, including BD-venues such as the IDEATION group (part of the University of Government Marketing) and the Capitol Business Development Association, both of which meet online, although the CBDA now also hosts live events.

As the effects of the pandemic subside, we now have a hybrid situation.

For smaller contractors, the BD role is vital, but it is defined differently for each contractor. Perhaps a more direct question what should you do to win more business?

There are always variables, but it should include:

  • Who are your current clients and are there more jobs out there?
  • What are your core capabilities and where else might they be located?
  • How do you currently find opportunities and what percentage of them materialize?
  • Is there funding for the opportunity?
  • What tools do you use (BGov, GovTribe, GovWin, etc.)?
  • Does your customer’s on-site staff have a mechanism to share what they hear? And are they trained to listen?
  • Do you have a library of “best practices” for determining how you’ve won or lost certain bids?
  • Who evaluates opportunities as they arise?
  • Are you getting in early enough to impact the opportunity?
  • Do you know the right people at the agency you’re targeting?
  • Do you have an internal mechanism for sharing all ideas?
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These are just some of the issues we discussed.

So the resolution on BD.

It ranges for small contractors where BD has to wear many hats because all wears many hats until you reach a certain size, a certain bandwidth.

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Time is the limiting factor because each person has limited time to focus on priorities and achieve results. By asking the right questions, you can organize the organization to identify and pursue the winning opportunities you need and leverage BD effectively.

Limited resources require many small contractors to have a BD role that includes sales and capture and sometimes garbage removal.

And that CEO can also be a CEO.


Mark Amtower is a GovCon consultant, speaker, podcast/radio host, WashTech contributor, and author. His new book, Government Marketing Best Practices 2.0 available on Amazon.



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