Why BD and Marketing need a seat at the ‘innovation’ table

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There are usually a number of roles within a firm that are invited to contribute to the firm’s ‘innovation team’. Typically included is the CIO, a Partner with a ‘tech’ appreciation, a board member or CEO and a representative who has recently worked at or come from another organisation that is viewed as being ‘innovative’ or ‘progressive’.

True innovation is not just about internal improvements and adjustments, it is about positioning and defining your services in a way that can better address and meet a client’s challenges.

So it surprises me that many ‘innovation teams’ do not include their most valuable asset in this case, their Business Development, Client Solutions or Marketing people. Who better (apart from the client themselves) can articulate and represents client’s needs, provide insight on what clients are asking for and how the firm will need to meet those changing needs to provide that all-important ‘Perceived Value’.

Few representatives within a firm have the exposure to as many different practice areas, the type of services they provide, the clients they service and ways in which the firm positions itself in the way that the Business Development or Client Solutions teams do.

Looking from the outside in

BD, Marketing and CS teams typically hold the type of insights that can help firms to see things from the ‘outside in’, which is in my mind one of the hardest but most important parts of true innovation. I believe a firm will learn a lot more from the clients it doesn’t win than the clients it does. Existing clients are generally happy with what is provided, making them a skewed / biased sample set.

Consider the tale of the air force looking at the bullet holes in aircraft returning from service, to understand which areas of a plane should bolstered with additional protection. To avoid what is termed ‘survival bias’, it is logical to consider the reverse, remembering these are the planes that did make it, the impact of these bullets did not prevent the plane from returning.

Returning plane with bullet holes

In exactly the same way, it is the Marketing and BD teams that understand more about where the firm has lost work, the potential clients the firm didn’t win and what a client is thinking and considering when they choose a firm.

Posted by Steve Tyndall on LinkedIn



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