What Business Development REALLY Means, According to Andrew Robertson, Mark Harris, and Linda Klein with Mo Bennell

Mo asks Andrew Robertson: What is your personal definition of business development?

  • Business development at its best is win/win/win. Your business wins, the client wins, and thirdly, the client is winning so much that they become your best business development ambassador.
  • Raving fans turn into your own personal sales force.
  • Focusing on the win for the client secures the win for the business. If your client wins enough, they become predisposed to become a raving fan, but you still have to ask for it.
  • Do something for them that gets them something of value and gets you even more. Don’t assume it will happen automatically.
  • First, recognize that the person you are working with is a person and not just a job title. They have interests and frustrations, and when you understand that there is something you can engage with together.
  • Dinner is a great opportunity to connect with someone outside of the confines and constraints of the work. You can also find a time to accompany them on another aspect of their work and learn more about what they do and what they care about in a way that’s not structured like a meeting.
  • The best conversations you can have with a client are the ones where you do 20% of the talking. Figure out questions to act as a stimulus and get them talking.
  • There is value and benefit for people in just having the opportunity to talk.


Mo asks Mark Harris: What is your personal definition of business development?

  • Business development means something different to everybody. For Mark, it’s all about helping people understand what their needs are (teaching) and then once you find that out it’s helping them find the solution they need.
  • Mark focuses on one phrase when going into the first meeting with someone, specifically being “humbly curious”. He’s simply looking to understand what motivates someone and where they are coming from, and what’s going to help them.
  • Nobody wants to be sold, but everybody likes to buy, especially from people they like. Focusing on the sale is a short-term strategy.
  • Sometimes the right thing is to not sell something. If things aren’t a good fit now but might be later, being upfront and telling the prospect the truth is how you can build trust and empathy and secure a valuable long-term relationship.
  • Ask as many questions as you can. When you can train your mind to ask questions and be humbly curious, the world is your oyster and you can bring value to that organization at all times.


Mo asks Linda Klein: What is your personal definition of business development?

  • Adding value to a client’s business by solving the problem. Service professionals often only look at a client’s issue through the lens of their own expertise, but that’s not the way to grow a business.
  • Asking for the sale before solving the problem (or diagnosing the problem) isn’t going to work.
  • Linda looks for ways to solve client problems that keep them from growing their own business. Sometimes that means referring the client to someone else when the issue is outside her area of expertise.
  • Linda starts solving the problem before a transaction has occurred. We can sense when someone is trying to sell us before any value has really been added to the relationship and it usually makes us want to run away.
  • Go into the first meeting simply to get to know somebody instead of trying to close the sale. When you help someone achieve their goals, you feel great and you increase the odds of them turning into a paying client.
  • When following up, think about who you could connect the person with and what the person said in the initial meeting that you continue the conversation with.
  • If you have taken your time to get to know the industry your prospect is in, you will know where the pain points are and have opportunities to help.
  • The number one thing you can do to be proactive in building relationships is writing down your top five to ten people that are important to your career and using that to make sure you’re constantly being helpful.



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