How to move from a strategy to business development using market intelligence?

Business development is what comes next in line from current awareness and strategic planning. It is basically the moment when a company says: “Let’s do it!” One would almost assume that all necessary research for this execution of the strategic plan has already been done and that now it’s just a matter pushing ahead come hell or high water. In reality Market Intelligence remains important in this phase too!

If we recap quickly we have seen that without market intelligence there can be no current awareness. Then we have seen that this current awareness can be expanded upon by applying further market intelligence to create well-founded scenarios and predictions. Only with those scenarios and predictions at hand strategic planning starts to make sense. In this blog post we will look at the next phase when the strategic plan needs to be decided upon and get executed.

Let’s look at an example. Currently, the terminal world experiences a shift towards sustainable fuel sources. Many terminal operators want to get clout in new fuels such as hydrogen (at minus 250 degrees Celsius), ammonia (transporting hydrogen chemically bound to nitrogen at temperatures and pressures comparable to LPG), and also SAF (sustainable aviation fuel). Lastly there is a growing demand for LNG due to the war in Ukraine and other geopolitical factors. Current awareness means to at least be aware of these trends and having current data at hand. Strategy means having a plan on how to capitalize on these trends under various scenarios. Business development then, is the stage where a desired position in these fuel supply chains is going to be built up.

In this new phase a good and constant intelligence flow remains critical for success. Market intelligence will now provide detailed knowledge and information about which concrete players would need what amounts of storage capacity. There can be absolutely no surprises regarding rules and regulations for these new fuels. Price movements need to be current at all times. These factors will then be taken into consideration when constructing of new tanks, jetties or pipelines. As in any construction project, these stages are feasibility study, design, licensing and permits and (preliminary) contract negotiations.

Investments in terminals are huge and therefore go hand in hand with long term contracts. Time spans of such contracts are usually between 5 and 15 years. So obviously most terminals and installations will not be built without a signed contract to cover a part of the lifespan of the asset. However, it is rarely the case that a client will be prepared to sign a deal for the whole lifespan of an asset. So there will always be a risk associated with such a project and market intelligence will enable you to estimate this risk and factor that into your decision. If the risk is acceptable you can go ahead, if too large then either you walk away from the deal or try to negotiate better terms. We can conclude that Market Intelligence continues to play a large role all the way into the  business development phase.

And as we will see in another blog post it remains important up until the final stage of the asset’s lifecycle: the operational phase. In this phase the objective is to get a good return on investment by attracting and retaining valuable customers that pay premium rates for your terminal. With excellent market intelligence for marketing, sales and account management you can achieve these results.