Purpose in Business Development with Dennis Baltz and Mo Bunnell

By Mo Bunnell

Dennis Baltz shares the wisdom he’s picked up during his 30-year career in helping people solve some of the most challenging risk problems in the world and how being focused on helping people with a purpose has allowed him to work with dozens of Fortune 1000 companies. Learn how to be strategically helpful and how that eliminates the fear from the sales process, the three question framework that is Dennis’s guiding principle for working with prospects, and why business development isn’t as deep as you think.


Mo asks Dennis Baltz: When did you realize that business development is something that would be interesting to you?

  • Dennis’s interest in business development goes all the way back to his high school days in 1987, where he was trying to find people to participate in market studies. It was a tough gig and he had to stretch outside his comfort zone to get things done.
  • Knowing that he had something of value to offer to the people gave him the confidence to ask for something they may not be initially open to. Dennis learned to be interested in the person first and think about the value he could provide, instead of assuming the ‘no’ right away.
  • Dennis has been on all sides of the transaction when it comes to risk during his career, so that gives him some perspective on what potential buyers are looking for. Initial meetings are simply about identifying problems and how you can be helpful.
  • Preparing for the meetings ahead of time is crucial to Dennis’s success. Following up usually involves finding resources or people to connect the prospect with that can help solve the problem in the meantime.
  • Introducing techniques from another industry is a great way to appeal to a potential client’s desire for both safety and innovation.
  • On the human side of things, Dennis realized that he needed to stay in front of clients at the beginning of the pandemic and that turned into a monthly blog post that he sends to clients and colleagues. Being open and vulnerable, and sharing some of the personal elements of his life, have had a tremendous impact.


Mo asks Dennis Baltz: What is your personal definition of business development?

  • Helping people with a purpose. Being strategically helpful is the name of the game. Sales can be fun when you are offering something of value to someone, not just making a sale.
  • Dennis has a stewardship mindset which fits very well into the risk and insurance industry. Helping protect clients from things like cyber risk is both rewarding and extremely valuable to clients.
  • The first step is to understand how people think and what they care about.
  • There are three questions that all prospects think about when they are making a decision about you: “Do I like you?”, “Do I trust you?”, and “Can you help me?”. Those three questions are the guiding principle in all Dennis’s business development pursuits.
  • To become likable, look for uncommon commonalities. When out of the office, Dennis puts where he’s going on his autoresponder message. The more specific you are, the more opportunities you have to discover those uncommon commonalities.
  • Dennis shares as well as asks for engagement from the people he knows.
  • Every meeting has an agenda and gets a follow up right after.
  • Communicating helpfulness starts with understanding the person’s challenges. It’s about introducing the prospect to things and people that can help them in a way that’s not overwhelming.
  • Starting with small projects where you can build on the relationship and add value can open the doors to bigger engagements.


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

  • Dennis loved so much of the GrowBIG Training, but the one that stands out the most is the idea of the Most Important Thing. When working with clients, Dennis uses an MIT one-sheet to communicate all the work streams that they can work on during the engagement as well as including some potentially new approaches they can take advantage of.
  • They are using that very effectively to land new clients because it allows them to understand the exact value WTW brings to the table.
  • This approach creates strategic conversations and helps build the trust that client’s have in Dennis and his team’s ability to think around corners.
  • Structurally, the slide includes important dates for upcoming content or events, the essential work streams for the client, and disruptive ideas.
  • Pre-MIT, the client updates were boring and uninspiring. Refining it down to the Most Important Things and communicating them in a single place that’s easy to understand has made it very valuable.


Mo asks Dennis Baltz: Tell me a business development story that you are really proud of.

  • In the insurance and risk industry, the sales cycle is somewhere between three to five years, so it’s definitely about playing the long game.
  • Organizations aren’t always ready to implement new ideas, but by building the relationship and sharing ideas with prospects you increase your chances of eventually landing the client.
  • One of the business development stories that Dennis is most proud of is an example of that. He got a team together to introduce an interesting, innovative idea to a company they weren’t yet working with and they ended up loving it, but it wasn’t a priority at the time. It wasn’t until three years later, when the company reached out, ready to go and looking specifically for Dennis to get it done. The client knew they were the right team and they didn’t have to compete with anyone for the work because of that initial investment.
  • They managed to thread the needle on a number of regulatory issues and help the client overcome those barriers.


Mo asks Dennis Baltz: If you could go back in time and record a video around business development to send to your younger self, what would it say?

  • Dennis would say “It’s not that deep” Business development can be simple.
  • Trust yourself and start sooner. Dennis spent the first 15 years getting the expertise he thought he needed to be able to sell, but you can start helping people much sooner than that.
  • Business development as a discipline is something that’s missing for young people. We need to help organizations teach that business development is not scary.
  • Using the whole brain approach to helping people is key.
  • Connecting with people doesn’t have to be hard. Dennis will frequently stop and record a quick video to send to someone just to stay in touch and let them know they were thinking of them. Videos allow you to be authentic, and that can’t be replicated with other tools like email.



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