Improvise, Overcome & Adapt: 3 Keys to Successful Business Development

 

Like many people I know, I’ve slipped a movie quote or two into more conversations than I care to count. While some may view it as an unnecessary distraction, I see it as an art form. Knowing when to crow bar a movie quote into a conversation takes skill!

I’ll give you an example. I coach my son’s baseball team, and not too long ago, I threw batting practice. At one point, when throwing to my son, he hit a scorching line drive right back at me. Instead of ducking behind the screen, I turned to my left and tightened my right arm to absorb the hit. It hit me flush in the middle of my upper arm, which immediately began to throb.

When I got home, my son was overly excited to tell my wife that he had drilled Dad in the arm. After yelling at me for being macho instead of safe, she offered ice and asked where it hurt. The movie quote guy in me responded with a line from the classic Chris Farley flick, Tommy Boy. Pointing to various spots on my arm, I said, “Well, it hurts here. Not here, or here so much. But right here.”

Another movie I’ve found quote-worthy many times is Heartbreak Ridge, the 1986 Clint Eastwood vehicle. Early in the movie, Clint’s character (Sergeant Highway) takes command of an undisciplined group of Marines, and has them assemble outside the barracks first thing in the morning. Sgt. Highway is wearing an olive shirt, while the platoon is wearing all different colors. The dialogue that unfolds:

Highway: “Strip off those T-shirts.”

Marines mumbling, as one says: “Say what?”

Highway: “You’ll all wear the same T-shirts.”

The following morning, the Marines gather outside the barracks, all wearing the same olive color shirt. Highway, however is wearing a red shirt. This scene plays out as follows:

Highway: “Strip off those T-shirts.”

Marine: “Gunny. We’re all the same.”

Highway: “Same as me?”

Different Marine: “How the hell are we supposed to know what kind of T-shirt…”

Highway: “You improvise. You overcome. You adapt. Now get off those god-@#$% T-shirts now.”

Later in the movie, the Marines do exactly as Sgt. Highway directed: they improvised, overcame and adapted by figuring out which T-shirt Highway would be wearing the following morning.  Sgt. Highway’s mantra has real-world application, no matter the industry, job or task.

When it comes to business development, being able to improvise, overcome and adapt are three keys to success. Each has its own meaning, but all point toward the same goal: winning new business. While it’s a job responsibility and task given to a specific team, business development touches every group within a company, as Chris Farber deftly notes in a recent post. It stands to reason then, that the three keys mentioned above also apply across corporate groups.

Improvise: to make, invent or create something using whatever is available.

It’s not often that the business development process unfolds as planned. Things often go awry, from rescheduled meetings to unexpected people in attendance that threaten to derail the process. A business development pro can improvise in a rapidly changing environment, but do so while maintaining credibility. Perhaps you’re presented with new information during a meeting that will quite possibly change the direction of the conversation. By asking power questions, you’ll elicit the information you need to improvise.

Note: improvise also refers to speaking or performing without preparation. My suggestion: don’t do this. Always prepare. Leave improv to the comedians.

Overcome: to successfully deal with or gain control over something.

Obstacles. Objections. Business developers encounter these roadblocks at every turn in the process. What separates the pros is their ability to move past these challenges and keep the cycle moving. Overcoming objections (a topic for a future post) might require the business development pro to improvise. Knowing your product and its benefits (not features), along with your prospect’s pain points is one way (for starters) to successfully overcome a client or prospect’s objections.

Overcome also has another meaning: to defeat someone. If you approach business development in this way, the only defeat that can be ensured is yours. Don’t; just don’t. Business development is a collaborative process, not a one-person war.

Adapt: to change something so that it functions better or is better suited for a different purpose.

Darwin’s theory says that survival goes to the fittest. In business, this is only partially true. Survival and success goes to those that can also adapt to new regulations, changing industry demands and rapidly evolving technology.

For a business development pro, having the ability to adapt is critical to success. It’s not the same as improvising in the face of new information received during a prospect meeting; rather it refers to changing the overall approach as directed by client and prospect feedback. In the financial services industry, frequent rule and regulatory changes can have a dramatic effect on firms. Getting ahead of these developments by adapting the business development process to focus on new requirements demonstrates credibility and adaptability.

So as Sgt. Highway commands: “Improvise. Overcome. Adapt,” or he’ll tell you to strip off that business development T-shirt.

#improvise #overcome #adapt #winning

2 Comments

Filed under business development, Small Business, Success, Uncategorized

2 responses to “Improvise, Overcome & Adapt: 3 Keys to Successful Business Development

  1. Great advice and insight. Most people are terrified of improvisation, for all sorts of reasons the bulk of which has nothing to do with the task on hand. Thanks to that the best they can ever do is to conform. Which in so many situations becomes the newer problem.

  2. Thanks for commenting. Appreciate you reading the post and giving your thoughts. It’s often said that you can achieve more when going beyond your comfort zone than when you don’t.

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