Do Things That Don’t Scale in Business Development

The other day, someone named Jordan left a comment on my post about the Value Hypothesis that got me thinking. Jordan wrote:

“In a world of highly automated marketing and business development efforts to hundreds of prospects, how do you suggest we target each prospect individually while maintaining a high level of touches to reach a closed deal? Are there any best practices or tools we can use in both identifying an efficient value prop and do it on a large scale?”

Jordan’s comment raises a great question: Is it possible to automate the process of establishing genuine relationships based on a mutual exchange of value?

I say “no.”

I’m an efficiency geek to the core, and I love to find ways to automate and eliminate as many of life’s little tasks as possible. But with the relationship-building necessary in business development, I find myself coming back to Paul Graham’s famous dictum: “Do things that don’t scale.

Taking the time to craft a strong Value Hypothesis is an investment. Getting someone to care is the first step in getting them to listen, to buy, or to partner. It is usually neither quick nor easy to research and digest the motivations of a company and an individual to the point where you can clearly articulate why they should care to spend their time on you. But that investment is time well spent when you’re able to cut right to the core of how your relationship can bring value to both sides.

Of course, if you ask a dozen BD people what is their favorite CRM tool, you’ll get a dozen different answers. Tools make our lives easier, and there’s nothing wrong with getting help to do our jobs. What we must remember, however, is that a tool is just an extension of the person using it. Salesforce.com cannot tell you how to get someone’s attention. Yesware cannot turn someone into an advocate. Those tools can help you track your progress as you navigate through a company’s hallways, but it’s up to you craft the message that gets you in the door to begin with.

There is only one way to streamline the processes of business development: invest your time wisely in uncovering the value that a deal brings to both sides, and free yourself from wasting breath on deals that don’t truly matter. Then you’ll see how “doing things that don’t scale” can ultimately be the most efficient path afterall.

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