When Does Business Development Let Go?

Earlier this week, I attended SMPS’ The Basics of Business Development here in New Orleans. I wanted to attend to brush up on my skills that are mostly self-taught and learned through trial-and-error and secondly, to see what my clients regularly go through as an A/E/C business development (BD) and marketing professional. It was a good course and especially valuable for those newer to business development such as technical staff, project managers (PM), principals, and marketers transitioning over. I also met some great people and new friends. 

I wanted to share a few pieces from the course, some that I’ve seen & experienced first hand, but this course helped phrase differently or had a great visual for it.

A big question most companies ask from operations to BD, is when does the business developer let go of the client? The answer is never. The business developer does not break the relationship they spent years creating and nurturing and just hand it over to the operations team. This chart below illustrates how the business developer gets less involved as the project comes to completion, but never disappears.


I’ve seen this recently with our team. As we’ve grown, we brought in a project manager about a year and a half ago so I was not a business developer and manager. This allowed me to spend more time nurturing my clients, prospects, and focus on a few clients that I did still manage instead of juggling dozens of balls every day. For our clients, they now have two contacts so things do not slow down when one of us is out of the office. This also allows me to call a client and simply ask, “How are things going?” Because I’m not their only contact and because I have a relationship with them already, they are honest with me. This honesty allows us to tailor our interactions with individual clients and improve our systems. Also, most internal teams are too focused on the job at hand to discuss future opportunities. Keeping the business development team involved allows everyone on the team to focus on their strengths and for the entire company to work with clients long-term instead of for just one project.

What are your thoughts on business developments interactions through the project? Do you have examples of your own similar to this chart?