Scaling business development to drive growth

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By James S. Cassel
Special to the Miami Herald
November 16, 2014

James Cassel

James Cassel

Sustainable business development is a common challenge for growing businesses, particularly those in the lower and middle markets. Several hallmarks of successful business development and growth strategies have distinguished themselves in my years of experience at Cassel Salpeter. Those hallmarks include clearly defined business development responsibilities and roles; agile, relevant technological solutions (customer relationship management); and consistent sales staff training and benchmarking, among others.

The onus of business development tends to fall to the owners/founders of smaller businesses until the companies have reached a critical threshold. That threshold isn’t clearly delineated, but it could be summarily understood as the point at which the operation of the business and the development of new business are both demanding and granular enough that the roles warrant a “conscious uncoupling.” Whether the responsibility of business development is distributed to a sales team acting under a supervisor, or to a single (or pair) of executives, largely depends on your business model, potential customer base, market size and internal dynamics.

Making matters more complicated, it is often difficult for founders to give up the business development role that they have personally handled for a long time and empower the new people. When the decision is made to delegate business development responsibilities, identifying the right personnel for the role and for your company is mission critical. While there are a plethora of potential sources to utilize when searching for strong talent, many businesses take one of several routes: relying on a current team member who can be cultivated into the role, recruiting from a competitor, or recruiting from an organization that meticulously trains its sales people. If you choose the latter, be mindful that your candidates’ organizational training is compatible with your business, goals, scope and scale.

Selecting who steers your ship is only the beginning of a robust business development program. The value of a lead will be determined by your business model, but whether you can get leads for a penny or a pound, how will your team begin qualifying, managing and screening leads? As far as customer relationship management solutions, SalesForce is a multi-industry favorite, but there may be value in a proprietary or modified CRM solution. It’s important to keep in mind that while these technologies and platforms seem brimming with bells and whistles, you’re buying a product off the shelf, and it may not fit as well as a tailored CRM solution might.

Whether you recruit or promote from within, providing ongoing mentoring, training and development opportunities will greatly enhance a successful business development program. You may decide to create an internal training process unique to the needs of your organization, or you may send your sales team to conferences like DreamForce, the SalesForce annual conference responsible for virtually shutting down the streets of San Francisco this past October with an attendee count that pushed above 130,000. It is just one of the many programs available today.

Recruiting, hiring and training your sales team is no small task for any busy, buzzing organization, but it’s crucial to see these necessary steps as an opportunity to refine your own lead management and business cultivation processes so that your newly minted sales force isn’t inheriting a broken or outdated system. Revisit your client or customer identification methods and hard-bake best practices for accessing them into your training processes. Consider your business model — if you’re selling products as opposed to selling services, your sales strategy is likely taking a different tack.

If you’re selling products, remember that distribution does not necessarily equal sales. For example, if you own a liquor company, getting your product distributed by Southern Wine & Spirits might not necessarily be huge for sales. You will still have to close the sales loop through promotions and activations, branding and awareness campaigns, otherwise your bottles are going to gather dust and eventually the person who manages inventory is going to notice that those bottles aren’t moving and may decide to replace your product with one that’s more likely to fly off the shelf.

Finally, and most importantly, stay focused on your business objectives. If you are scaling your distribution to include the likes of the Walmarts or Saks Fifth Avenues of the world, it should be because placement in those retailers will drive sales. Obtaining those distribution routes for vanity will only disappoint you and the retailers with whom you’re working.

These hallmarks of good business development are by no means exhaustive or all-encompassing, and seasoned veterans will tell you scaling business development presents unique obstacles and opportunities for every business. There are no purple pills or cookie-cutter approaches. The right solution for you depends on your business model, your industry and your organization. By taking the time to consult qualified professionals and develop the right plans and processes, you can significantly increase your chances of achieving your business goals.

James Cassel is co-founder and chairman of Cassel Salpeter & Co., an investment-banking firm with headquarters in Miami that works with middle-market companies. or


iOS Health Systems

Talking Turkey about Networking, Outside Investors, & Education

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By Jim Fried

November 2014

This month our show had some awesome guests.

Ivan Misner, the Founder and Chairman of BNI – the world’s largest networking organization – was fascinating. He’s often called the father of modern networking.

We discussed mindfulness and networking – being present while you are meeting someone in a networking situation. I sometimes have jitters when I am anticipating an important event. The jitters melt away when I shake the first hand. Ivan mentioned that this is common and that many people have a problem focusing during networking. Their eyes jump around the room looking for the next person to meet. I find myself doing that and simply apologize to the person I am speaking with.

Ivan also mention that it’s a good idea to make sure the back of your card is easy for people to write on. He likes to take notes on the back of the business card as soon as he meets somebody. I do the same thing. Ivan had some other great networking tips as well. You may want to check out his interview on my website.

Another great guest this month was James Cassel. He is the chairman and co-founder of Screen Shot 2014-12-08 at 6.23.03 PMCassel Salpeter & Co. a Miami-based mid-market investment banking firm.

We discussed how to fund of the growth of your midsize company. There are many businesses based in Miami that are family run that need outside growth capital. James discussed what outside investors are looking for and what the business owners could expect when they took their company to market. Solid historic cash flow and the ability to execute a business plan going forward are two of the keys.

Our discussion also touched on the current state of the financial markets as it relates to bank financing for closely held mid-size companies. Cassel said lending is still tight, but community banks are leading the way in trying to loosen things up.

I round out this month’s review with Dr. Joe Glover, who is the provost at the University of Florida. That makes him second-in-command at the state’s flagship university.

We talked about the University of Florida’s preeminence campaign. It is focused on raising dollars to take the University of Florida to the top of the public university field. Joe started out as a mathematics professor and worked his way up to Provost. As the world becomes more competitive it becomes increasingly important for Florida to have a university that’s ranked at the top. The Florida Legislature recognizes this and is funding an intensive Preeminence program for UF as it races to the top.

Joe and his team are enhancing programs ranging from the impact of big data to creative writing. Joe was fascinating but what’s going on at UF is even more interesting.

It was truly a month of great interviews.


IOS Health Systems has been acquired by Intermedix Corp.

  • Background: Headquartered in Miami, FL, IOS Health Systems is a leading innovator of cloud-based medical practice software platforms marketed under the Medios® brand. All of IOS’ products are provided as a Software as a Service (“SaaS”) offering and are fully integrated to address every aspect of the physician practice including clinical, financial, and patient engagement, by providing innovative solutions that enhance the way these organizations create, interact, and access health information technology.
  • Cassel Salpeter:
    • Served as exclusive financial advisor to the Company
    • Ran a competitive sales process, identifying and contacting over 100 strategic and financial parties
    • Provided assistance throughout all phases of the sales process, due diligence, and auction through closing
  • Challenges:
    • Successfully monetizing intellectual property and technology in the sales price
    • Navigation through three different technology audits in addition to the financial and operational due diligence
  • Outcome: In November 2014, IOS Health Systems, Inc. was sold to Intermedix Corp., a Fort Lauderdale, FL based healthcare services and solutions company, owned by Thomas H. Lee Partners.