14 Big Challenges Modern Leaders Are Facing (And How To Overcome Them)

Expert Panel® Forbes Councils Member
Forbes Business Development Council
March 4, 2021

Business development teams have faced a lot of challenges during the Covid-19 pandemic, especially if they were used to in-person sales. Fortunately, many of them have adapted to the world of remote selling—but that doesn’t mean companies aren’t facing obstacles when it comes to growing and expanding their business.

As experienced biz dev leaders, the members of Forbes Business Development Council know firsthand what kind of difficulties the present economy and circumstances have thrown at their industry. Not only have they found strategies for meeting those challenges head-on, but they’re also strategizing ways to ensure future success, even in today’s environment.

Below, 14 members share the biggest challenges biz dev professionals are facing right now and how to overcome them.

1. Bringing A Vision And Roadmap To The Table

Business leaders should bring the vision, strategic roadmap and execution plan. They should provide a data-driven analysis to all stakeholders to get their buy-in and empower stakeholders to make decisions, establish a RACI and set the communication protocols. Above all else, business leaders must stay engaged until the team starts operating to the level of the desired state. – Shyam KumarAST LLC

2. Keeping The Business Afloat

At this moment, the challenge for so many is to keep their business afloat while staying optimistic. As a leader, you are the driver of not only your business but also the team that believes in you. Strategic thinking and having a clear objective of the growth pattern of your company is imperative at the moment. Focus on the areas of the business that may impact your growth. – Valerie MoranPFS

3. Zoom Fatigue

People are bombarded with internal video calls, leaving less time for traditional discovery calls, presentations and demos. I encourage reps to engage with prospects through asynchronous videos. Record an introduction or walk through a portion of the demo. This can be shared via email for prospects to engage with on their own time and terms, and then follow up live to maximize time together. – George DonovanAllego

4. Hiring New Talent

Hiring is a major challenge across all industries. Millions of people in the job market coupled with changing consumer buying preferences means now is the perfect time for employers to challenge their hiring persona. Look for people who take a “customer-first” approach to business. People with a hospitality or retail background are often savvy when it comes to customer relationship-building. – Andrew RainsautomotiveMastermind

5. Reaching Decision Makers

With a huge number of market players trying to get the attention of decision makers, the biggest challenge is finding a way to reach them. This requires not only a great offering, but also a highly personalized approach, a deep understanding of their needs and pain points, and how your product can address them. An account-based marketing approach is one way to create a successful pitch. – Anna JankowskaRTB House

6. Getting Distracted By Low-ROI Tasks

With remote work, it’s easy to be distracted by tasks that don’t yield the best results, like micromanaging or spending excess time evaluating metrics. Don’t lose sight of what is most important—spending time with your team and clients. Get out on the playing field and make a big impact. To help accomplish this, begin adding blocks in your calendar that only your team knows they can book over.  – Chris JohnsonGorilla Logic

7. Aligning Proposals With Solving Priority Buyer Issues

Research highlights that 53% of buyers have reprioritized their spending and 38% have a spending freeze in place. As a result, you should revisit opportunities to assure proposals are aligned to solving priority issues. Financial justification is required, so proactively quantify business value outcomes and ROI to bust through Covid committee and budget lockdowns.   – Tom PiselloMediafly

8. Pivoting Their Approach To Reach The Next Level

What got you to this point is unlikely to get you to the next level.  The world has changed and the way that many business development leaders and practitioners have conducted themselves has been changed by a virtual world. Rather than lament about the change, think of ways to reinvent your approach so you can continue to do your best work. – Vincent BurruanoJK Moving Services

9. Social Interaction

Social interaction is a huge challenge. While Zoom is a great solution for connecting virtually, most sales and business development leaders are in this space because they are social and enjoy in-person networking and interaction. Finding ways to connect and engage is an important part of keeping the motivation and enjoyment. Finding alternatives is key—hiking and park meetups are just a few ideas. – Karolina HobsonRadd Interactive

10. Staying Connected To Customers

The inability to have in-person meetings can be challenging for biz dev leaders today. Make sure to maintain consistent communication with your customers via phone or video to keep the relationship strong. Updates and reassurances from your business can go a long way in staying top of mind. Also, remember to be patient. These are stressful times and everyone is trying to navigate as best as they can. – Sarah KnappSpruce Technology

11. Uncertainty

Uncertainty in all corners of the business will be the biggest hurdle this year. Supply chains are hampered, consumer behavior is altered and commodity pricing is unpredictable. In times of uncertainty, increase the cadence of communication with your team. The faster you get their information and the faster they hear your directives, the better the organization will be.  – Chris YountIndependent Board Advisor

12. Quality And Quantity Of Meetings

The barrage of remote meetings and cold email outreach has caused fatigue. Because we don’t have to make the trip and effort, we assume remote meetings are easy to set up, which increases the volume of meetings and significantly reduces the quality. Less is more—the challenge is to put metrics on not just quantity but on quality and results of the efforts as well. Do less, but make it more impactful. – Guneet Bedirelayr

13. Ignoring Cyber Risks

There’s been an uptick in breaches and data privacy misuse recently, due to businesses neglecting to monitor their systems regularly and enact protocols. Biz dev leaders must take security more seriously and provide training so their employees can anticipate future threats and avoid catastrophic damage. – Vijay SundaramZoho Corporation

14. Noise In The Digital Space

With every business pivoting to online in some capacity, the digital space is overwhelmingly noisy. Stand out through honesty and authenticity. If you really understand the pain points of your ideal clients, you can speak to them empathetically. Now is not the time to force cookie-cutter solutions. Find your niche and give it real attention. Attention with care will lead to lifelong customers.  – Melanie HicksInPursuit Research

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