There’s a curious problem that occurs in many professional’s careers. We call it the business development paradox.
It can happen suddenly. You’re rocking along getting rave reviews of your work, when all of a sudden, the rules change.
Maybe you were practicing as a lawyer, consultant, graphic designer or as an expert in another professional service. Or, maybe you were in a service-based position, like at a health care company, a technology provider or an outsourcer. You spent years learning your core craft. You built expertise.
Then, great news! You were promoted, asked to lead an important client relationship.
That’s when the rules changed.
Before, you were judged on the depth of your expertise and how well you provided client service.
Now, you’ll be judged on your ability to grow client relationships. And that’s the paradox. You’re now tasked with growing a client account, but you haven’t been taught how to do it.
It can feel weird, awkward. Many say, “I didn’t become a (profession) to sell.”
I get it. I was there. I slammed face first into the business development paradox myself. I started my career as an actuary at Hewitt Associates and finished all the exams to earn the profession’s highest designation. The next month I transitioned to a broader account management role.
It was a huge change. I went from needing to know and lead the offerings of the health care practice to interfacing with C-suite executives on their toughest talent issues. I was on the hook for a whole new set of outcomes, with business development at the forefront.
I thought there would be some manual, a perfectly written document to show me how to develop business the right way, with the client’s best interest in mind. But…there was no manual.
I was happy to be promoted and I wanted to succeed at business development. I started researching, writing, and testing a system of how to do business development the right way. I read every book I could find on BD. I dug into peer-reviewed behavioral science research. I asked friends who were excellent at BD to lunch to learn from them.
Using everything I learned, I started formulating the ‘how to do BD correctly with great results’ manual I wish I had been given even before I’d been promoted. I crafted a BD process, something I could use over and over again, and my system worked.
In just a few years, I was managing two of Hewitt Associates’ four largest clients, representing over $70 million in revenue. I was also leading the 700-person Atlanta office and one-quarter of the US Business Development group.
While it was painful at first, the business development paradox was one of the most important parts of my career. I fell in love with BD. I fell in love with helping my clients. And I fell in love with helping others learn these skills. It’s become my life’s passion.
I left Hewitt Associates and launched Bunnell Idea Group (BIG) to teach other professionals how to do business development the right way. Our training teaches people a comprehensive BD system that is based on behavioral science, and is designed to be efficient while delivering real results. The core elements are authenticity, proactiveness, and helpfulness. That last word is important. When you approach BD as being helpful, it can even be fun.
Our approach resonates with people. Since we founded BIG, our team has training over 15,000 professionals at more than 400 organizations all over the world. The success stories of our clients show us that business development is a craft, one that can be learned.
Can I help you?
Together with my team at Bunnell Idea Group, I help overwhelmed professionals incorporate my business development system to help them win at work, succeed at life, by doing business development with confidence – the right way.
At work, I love helping people succeed in their careers. At home, I love helping my family succeed in life.
I’ve been married to my wife, Becky, for twenty-five years. I definitely married up and feel closer to her now, more than ever. Maybe it’s because the kids are older and we can sleep at night. We have two amazing daughters, Gabby and Josie. Gabby is attending Duke University and enjoys her studies and being a part of Delta Gamma sorority. Their motto, Do Good, resonates with me. Josie is in high school and enjoys 25 and 50-mile endurance horse racing with her mom. I enjoy supporting them by being their “crew” when they race.
Our in-town farm in Atlanta is truly our family’s dream home. It is a historic house with 11 acres of beautiful pasture land and woods. We have three horses, one donkey, a bird, and two dogs. Our animals keep us entertained, and busy.
My favorite way to stay in shape is to train for and play Ultimate Frisbee. I’ll be participating in the age 50+ World Championships in Sardinia Italy this summer. It is going to be an amazing experience!