Growing Business Development Relationships with Mo Bunnell and Henning Streubel

By Mo Bunnell

Henning Streubel shares his thoughts on developing relationships and how to not only go from prospect to client, but from client to friend. He is the Managing Director and Senior Partner // Managing Director of the West Coast System of Boston Consulting Group (BCG). Learn how insight allows you to create impact and trust, why growth and comfort can’t coexist when it comes to doing what’s right and creating deep and meaningful relationships in your life, and how to pick yourself back up after the inevitable setbacks of a growth-oriented mindset.


Mo asks Henning Streubel: When was the moment that growth and business development was something you wanted to focus on?

  • Henning is intrinsically motivated to help people, but it’s less about business development and sales. Whenever he meets someone, he has a tendency to ask deep questions.
  • Early in his career working for a utility client in Germany, he realized that the client’s company had many more problems than he initially thought which he discovered by simply having a deep conversation.
  • Because of those conversations, the client was able to take Henning’s thoughts and ideas back to her boss and make positive changes.
  • For Henning, relationship development starts with insights, which allows you to create an impact and trust.
  • Many highly analytical people have difficulty talking about anything outside of the project. Henning recommends understanding that everyone is a human being which means they share a common foundation.
  • Being genuine about being curious is key. Don’t just use small talk as a way to open a conversation.
  • Follow up on the topics and go deeper. This shows your interest in them as a human being.
  • Establishing a personal relationship makes connecting with them easier outside the context of the work. It creates an entry point that lets you have the impact you want to have.
  • When you open up on your experience, you become more vulnerable and that creates a better foundation for trust. This was something that Henning had to learn and practice. Having a few stories in your back pocket can make it easier.


Mo asks Henning Streubel: What is your personal definition of business development?

  • Henning prefers the term relationship development, which he considers the foundation of every successful service provider.
  • Henning learned early in his career not to take things personally. If someone doesn’t respond to him, he assumes they must be busy and it’s not about the other person not liking him.
  • Many experts hesitate to reach out when they don’t get a response right away. It’s important to understand what matters to people and to offer them something they are interested in.
  • Understand how their mind works on the professional side and send them information that would appeal to that, but don’t be afraid to also reach out on the personal side.
  • The biggest barrier to relationship success is us.
  • Henning has a process for understanding where his relationships are in three categories: professional, personal, and friendship. He is always trying to think about how to develop a relationship to take it to the next level.
  • Simply writing down the top five to ten relationships that are most important for your future self is a powerful tool.
  • Knowing where you want a relationship to go helps you understand how you can be the most helpful.
  • One of Henning’s mentors told him early in his career to keep doing the right thing and success will come. Investing in the right relationships will eventually have a commercial benefit.
  • You don’t need to have all the answers if you can refer a prospect to someone else who can help.
  • Role model the behavior for your team if you want that behavior to permeate. Make the time to show that you put the mindset into practice and celebrate the effort that people are putting into the work.
  • Celebrating the little things where you went above and beyond what a normal professional relationship would be. That creates momentum and the right spirit to invest in relationships.


Mo asks Henning Streubel: What is your favorite science, step, or story from the GrowBIG Training or Snowball System?

  • Henning’s favorite idea is the Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument. It’s vital to understand how you, your team, and your prospects think.
  • Henning is an analytical thinker, and understanding this gives him greater insight into how he can communicate with another person who can compliment that with their own thought preferences.
  • Henning took his team through the HBDI process to get a good idea of how his team thinks and where there might be any gaps. This allows the team to cover all the quadrants.
  • Externally, Henning has a few questions that he asks to get an idea of how a person thinks. Within 30 minutes he usually has an idea on the other person’s thinking style and can start tailoring his communication to cover the aspects that are most important to them.
  • When it comes to an analytical thinker, Henning would lay out the numbers and the facts.
  • For a procedural thinker, he would lay out the next steps in the process of working together to give them execution certainty and confidence in Henning’s ability to get the job done.
  • For an empathic thinker, he would focus on the tools and skills that the client team can learn by working with them and the change management that will help people be successful.
  • For a strategic thinker, Henning starts with the purpose of the work. He creates a future perspective and vision around how the work will change the company with a transformative impact.
  • The work is done between the first meeting and the last meeting. This is why building it together is so important. Bringing your client into the development of the solution and building their thoughts and concerns into it makes it far more sustainable.


Mo asks Henning Streubel: Tell us a business development story that you are particularly proud of.

  • Henning’s story begins with a rough start where a client CEO read an unflattering internal email about himself that he was never meant to see. Henning went to apologize in person and ended up having a great conversation that turned into an offer to have a second lunch in the future.
  • During the second conversation the client began to open up about the challenges he had been experiencing, and Henning realized that he had gained this CEOs trust.
  • Henning engaged some of his colleagues to help with the challenges the CEO was facing and this created the basis for a larger transformative project with the company. Today, Henning and the CEO are good friends.
  • Henning is most proud about being able to overcome his discomfort with the initial situation and doing the right thing.
  • Growth and comfort can’t coexist. The skills needed to develop a relationship aren’t innate. You can start right away to develop your skills, and it is possible to add value to someone else’s career even when they have more years of experience than you.
  • Henning is always thinking about how to take his professional relationships into a more personal realm because that’s where he can deliver the most value. The challenge is in connecting with people with different personalities and experiences and then helping his team do the same thing.


Mo asks Henning Streubel: If you could record a video around relationship development and send it back to your younger self, what would it say?

  • Henning would send three points back. The first is that you have to care about the people. You can only develop relationships when you care about the other person and their issues.
  • When you are engaging with them, it’s not about just showcasing your expertise and what you know. It’s about listening to them and what they want. If you come with a cookie-cutter approach, you won’t establish trust. Understanding what the other person needs and bringing a customized approach is the key to trust.
  • This kind of work is a team sport. Think about how you can compliment your own skills and strengths with your team so you can offer a holistic value to your clients.
  • The basis for all those lessons is that you aren’t born with these skills and consistently learning them over time is okay.
  • It is vital to respect the individual clients and companies that you work with.
  • Not everything goes to plan. For Henning, he overcomes setbacks very quickly by looking forward rather than backwards. Feel the pain and then move on.
  • Everybody needs to find their own way of processing pain, leverage the learning, and move forward again. It doesn’t help us as a society or as leaders to dwell on setbacks for too long. For Henning, that means going for a run or a bike ride. For others, that could be having a conversation with someone they trust.



Mentioned in this Episode: - Use the envelope icon on this page to get in touch with Henning directly