Lucas Maatman, BKD LLP
Technology runs the business world. Although this has always been the case to one degree or another, it has climbed to an entirely new height in the past decade. Whether it is IBM, Apple, or Elon Musk, these brands and others like them, highlight each morning’s Wall Street Journal. Given this trend, it is straightforward to make the connection to the importance of digital tools for business development executives (BDE).
In years past, one could rely on legal pads to track client history, communication, and overall follow-up. That is no longer the case, and clients are the first to agree. This overall point can be summed up with three key advantages technology allows – access, speed, and convenience.
Access is Technology’s Biggest Benefit
Access – more pointedly access to information – is arguably the most important reason technology is so vital. Google, Wikipedia, and even Hoover’s are there in waiting no matter what topic is being addressed.
The importance of this for BDEs is transparent, and it all comes down to company data. If the company is still a prospect, this access can lead to revenue information, executive titles, and company history. If the company is a client, this access can translate to their needs, history, and follow-up in general. In general, BDEs have never had it easier in terms of readily finding out all they need to know, when either courting a prospect or satisfying a client.
And this access is not limited to the raw information which can be mined from the web, it also applies to information BDEs themselves are assembling, like data compiled in CRM. Whether one falls on the Salesforce or Microsoft Dynamics side of the fence does not matter; what is of note is that BDEs have this client information literally at their fingertips at all times. Used properly, that access can be remarkably powerful.
Speed Drives Client Interaction & Information
If you are not arguing for access to take the top spot, then surely you are advocating on behalf of speed.
Speed has been the focal point of the industry for all time, and big business has usually found itself at the helm. Take computer processing speed as an example. According to Big Think, an online knowledge forum, “the doubling of computer processing speed every 18 months, known as Moore's Law, is just one manifestation of the greater trend that all technological change occurs at an exponential rate.”
Although it is difficult to comprehend such a rate of speed in layman’s terms, it simply highlights where things are headed – and we find ourselves at the crux of it. BDEs utilize this speed with how they both interact with clients and access information. With the former, email is the most obvious advantage. By pushing a few buttons, you can immediately have correspondence in front of whoever you wish. A crystal-clear demonstration of this benefit is that many have turned to this medium as the preferred method to reach out to clients and prospects, something that is a foreign concept to those accustomed to the old school.
Technology Makes a BDE’s Life Easier
With respect to convenience, technology is on the forefront of things often taken for granted. The very idea of not owning a smartphone is ludicrous to most. It now often comes down to what type of cellphone one has that dominates the conversation (Apple vs. Android comes to mind).
From there, digital tools have made life so much easier for BDEs, that not having those tools readily accessible is a foregone conclusion. Take the smartphone example for instance. Whether it is checking email on the road or tapping Waze to ensure survival of the road, people utilize their phones in more ways than ever before.
Another way the convenience of technology is manifested is in tools such as Skype and FaceTime, especially in the sphere of business. This face-to-face technology has connected the world in a completely new way, and more and more companies are electing this means of connecting due to efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and of course – convenience. This is seen a great deal on the international front when the cost of travel (in terms of dollars and time) can often be too much to justify with these tools available for use.
It is impossible to argue against the fact that technology runs the show – both on a personal and professional level. This fact is compounded for those in a role which demands constant interaction with others, like BDEs.
Clients & Competition Make Digital Tools Mandatory
If, as a BDE, you do not use digital tools, you will be very hard-pressed to be successful in today’s business climate.
This is first due to client expectations, as mentioned previously. Clients know full-well the tools their service providers have accessible. If they do not receive the service those tools allow, they will go elsewhere in a heartbeat. Secondly, consider the competition BDEs face every day. One should always assume they are using these digital tools to their fullest potential. So, what better reason to get on board? It simply drives home the importance of these tools.
As BDEs, embrace the digital tools available or accept the consequences.