Feb 8 2024

How I Engage with the CBDO

(Post 4 of 4 in the series on Scaling CBDO’s- other posts are, When to hire your first Chief Business Development Officer, What does Great look like in a Chief Business Development Officer and Signs your Chief Business Development Officer isn’t Scaling)

Other than the weekly executive meeting, your day as a CEO rarely has an entry of “meet the CBDO.” Because of the infrequency of deals it’s critical to engage with the CBDO with a regular cadence so that when something does come up you’re not getting to know each other again. Anyway, a few ways I’ve typically spent the most time or gotten the most value out of CBDOs over the years are:

One way to engage with the CBDO is to make ecosystem maps together. It’s important for you and the CBDO to understand exactly what ocean you’re swimming in, which other fish are swimming nearby, and which ones are sharks you need to watch out for. This understanding is what can make or break the CBDO role and it is vital that you, as CEO, engage with and help shape that understanding since you’ll have specialized knowledge of some of the other players, their CEOs, and their strategies. The ecosystem map is actually a fun thing to create and not only does it lead to better clarity about where you’re at and where you could go, it also aligns you and the CBDO on a deeper, strategic level.

While you can plan out the ecosystem mapping activity, a lot of the engagement I have with the CBDO is sporadic, unplanned, and spontaneous.  The deal world is intense and unpredictable.  When you’re working on a deal you may be talking to your CBDO 20 hours a day.  When it’s business as usual, you may go weeks without deep interaction. So unlike the other executives, the time you engage with your CBDO will be compressed into highly intense time frames.

A third way I engage with the CBDO is in-market and in-transit.  As with the CRO, I spend time extensively with the CBDO since we are likely going to the same place at the same time a few times a year.  Since the essence of the job as a CBDO is to be a trusted ambassador on all fronts, as Ken identified correctly in his section of Startup CXO, the CEO has to constantly be engaging the ambassador on the organization’s most current thinking, positioning, forward-looking strategy.  Over the life of Return Path (and currently at Bolster), there’s no question that I spent the majority of my “planes, trains, and automobiles work time” with Ken.

(You can find this post on the Bolster Blog here).