Kim Davenport Expands on Being Curious and the Steps to Diversity and Inclusion

By Mo Bunnell

Kim Davenport shares the role relationship building has played for her and why BD is much more than just selling.

Kim Davenport shares the role relationship building has played for her and why BD is much more than just selling. Learn more about the three steps to D&I, how you would want to be seen when it comes to BD, and Kim’s advice to a younger self.

Mo asks Kim Davenport: Tell me the moment when you decided that business development is something that you wanted to focus on, as well as how to connect with prospects and create wins for clients.

  • There isn’t a particular point in time in which Kim said to herself, ‘This is development, I need to focus on clients’ – it’s just something that has always been part of her. Focusing on helping people and building relationships with people has been with her pretty much since day one.
  • For Kim, inclusion, diversity and having a passion for helping clients are all components of the same equation. She’s always seeking ways to help others, to build relationships with different people. This is part of diversity and inclusion, and you can’t do one without the other.
  • Being seen as someone who’s helping somebody make their way and get better, and as someone who creates opportunities for clients that allow them to be better, is the golden crown of business development.
  • Understanding how to get a prospect from a meeting to needing her help and wanting to hire her has been the hardest thing Kim had to learn. The answer lies in connecting, being curious and having conversations that bring prospects on a journey. Becoming someone they can lean on, someone who listens to them, and who just lets them get it all out, can be transformational.
  • It’s about asking questions and taking prospects on the journey first. Kim has a current client, who has been her friend for years. After having a long conversation, Kim realized that what her friend was struggling with in her business was something that Kim could help her with.
  • The key is to engage in actively listening to who you’re having a conversation with.


Mo asks Kim Davenport: What is your personal development of business development? And he asks Kim how she goes about addressing D&I.

  • Kim looks at business development as a three-part concept. There’s helping the client, then there’s building a relationship with them. And, lastly, there’s helping a client or an organization get better.
  • Kim goes beyond the dollar sign. She focuses not only on how a potential opportunity might impact an organization or a client in general terms, but individual people too. It’s important to understand the impact of different projects and how they could impact the individual person or contributor.
  • Being proactive and staying on top of things isn’t easy, as Kim admits, but you need to carve out time. Kim, for instance, blocks out time in her calendar from time to time, and spends that time sitting down, thinking about the conversations she has been having and where everything is headed toward.
  • When it comes to getting things done in D&I, Kim uses a three-step approach. First, it’s about truly making that a passion and a priority. Step two is about doing whatever is needed – surveys, focus groups, etc. to talk to people and try to figure out where things are at. And, thirdly, try to close the gap.
  • Focusing on D&I makes people feel as if they’re operating in an environment where they can be successful, feel valued, and where they want to give it all to the organization they’re part of.


Mo asks Kim Davenport: What is your favorite science, step, or story from GrowBIG or the Snowball System?

  • Kim’s favorite science is the four-color quadrant – green (the one Kim identifies with the most), blue, red, and yellow.
  • She keeps it at the back of her mind whenever she’s about to have an interaction, with the purpose of trying to approach and connect with the person in the way that best suits their personality and where they’re “positioned” in the color quadrant.
  • Different people require you to connect with them in different ways, so it’s important to always be listening and be attentive to that.
  • Despite her engineering background and being someone who is process-driven, Kim understands the importance of realizing that, even when it comes to work that includes processes, there are emotions involved there.
  • As she puts it, you open up a person when you’re able to also relate to them and don’t simply come in with a “black and white” approach.

Mo asks Kim Davenport: What is one moment around business development that you are really proud of?

  • Kim’s most proud moment was the first real significant opportunity she brought into her firm – the friend, who’s a vice president at an energy company, who she had a conversation with and who realized Kim and the firm she’s part of could help her business.
  • Kim is proud of what she did, of having the courage to go outside of her comfort zone a little bit to bring business into a conversation among friends. This was her first success story, and it happened before Kim was a partner at her firm.
  • That’s one of the moments that made her realize that BD isn’t about going around knocking on doors trying to sell something, but it’s about helping people, about leveraging and building relationships… and, yes, it’s fun!
  • Even though she’s process-driven, Kim recommends not to overthink things too much. Her advice is to just be a little courageous, and give it a try. Just ask the first question, make it natural. Don’t worry about what comes after that, just take the first step and see where it takes you.


Mo asks Kim Davenport: If you could record a business development tip and send it to your younger self, what would it be?

  • In a video she would record for a younger self, Kim would tell her to toss doubts aside and to believe in herself.
  • To prepare her prior self, Kim would want her to get smart, be curious, and to be intentional.
  • BD is more than just selling business, it’s about trying to be a guide, an advisor, and about trying to be someone that somebody would like to partner with when they need help or counseling.
  • Kim recommends to focus less on titles and positions, but to focus more on skills and what you’re getting out of wherever you are now, instead.