Business Development Talk with Scott Hiipakka

Tel Aviv (Scott Hiipakka)

Scott Hiipakka is the Chief Executive Officer of the Michigan Israel Business Accelerator (MIBA), responsible for accelerating Michigan’s innovation ecosystem through the expansion of the Michigan-Israel economic relationship. The MIBA hosts, an innovative, free online platform connecting start-ups, hubs and  funders in order to help map Michigan’s innovation and tech ecosystem. 

Scott Hiipakka (Courtesy)

How has business development changed since COVID-19?

Not since 1918 have we seen a pandemic like what we are experiencing today. Not only the lives lost but also the economic impact of COVID-19 has been staggering. However, with the crisis we have been inspired by the necessity to innovate and adopt the “new normal” of where and how we work and live. Telecommuting, online events, and conference calls have become standard practice. However, business development is relationship based and the long-term efficacy of business development through these new mediums remains to be seen. 

Where is it going?

The new normal represents an opportunity however agility will be key! At the tactical level of business development lies a traditional sales approach of face-to-face engagements, i.e., “sales calls”, that has been replaced with socially distant mediums. Looking to the future of business development, transformation and technological innovation will be vital. We have seen multiple examples of organizations successfully rising to the challenges of leveraging technology in order to maintain operations including business development.

That said, I am also of the perspective that technology cannot completely replace the genuine value of the human interaction that occurs in a face-to-face venue vice a one-dimensional online discussion. Ultimately, we are all in this global experiment of navigating the economic impacts of the pandemic together. 

How should business development managers adapt?

Business development managers must lead from the front within their organizations. Success can and will be achieved through harnessing individual performances that build into collective organizational momentum. Expectation management will be key. Business development goals, sales quotas, and other performance indicators may require adjustments however we cannot allow the current circumstances to become an excuse for lacklustre performance. Increased communication and inspiration by business development managers to their teams can win the day! 

Scott Hiipakka (Courtesy)

What should executives know?

Create opportunities to have deliberate conversations, be willing to accept new ideas, and finally take risks with new, thoughtful approaches that empower people.

Possibly even take a page from our Israeli counterparts and create a climate where it is acceptable to fail (once) and then learn from it.

Promote investments in technology that capture meaningful interactions while promoting agility and speed. Business development must support business growth through profitability, partnership, collaboration opportunities, and overall expansions. 

In today’s environment, this can only be achieved through a willingness to accept new ideas from all levels of the organization. 

About the Author
Sherman holds an MBA from The Kedge Business School, a Grande Ecole de Commerce et de management in France, which included time as an executive exchange scholar at Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China. He has a BA from The University of California, San Diego, San Diego, and a Certificate in Nonprofit Management from Duke University.
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