Category Archives: business development

Grow Revenue Wtih Strategic Customer Service

There are many components to business development, and many ways to grow revenue; and strategic customer service is definitely one of the often-overlooked pieces of the puzzle

When asked, most people say they do their best to provide good customer service. However, the methods vary significantly and tend to be inconsistent. To maximize the effectiveness of your team’s customer service effort, it’s best to develop and implement a measurable, strategic approach that leverages your organization’s unique benefits and that can become both consistent and cultural.

Simple & Strategic
Creating a plan, setting goals, enhancing communication and monitoring results are the key elements of the process. Here are some specific ideas on how you might get started:

  • The first step is to learn three key things about your customers what they like, what they don’t like and how they feel about your organization
  • Next, identify your organization’s unique offerings from a products and services perspective (what you offer/do) as well as a brand or cultural perspective (how you offer/do it)
  • Note the alignment between these first two items, and then determine the things associated with your brand, culture and unique offerings that your customers value the most the real benefits
  • Develop a communication style that expresses these benefits in terms that are relevant to your customers (rather than to you and your staff), and create a proactive, systematic way of staying in contact with your customers
  • Define action steps that exemplify and reinforce your group’s brand and culture keep in mind, in most cases an organization’s most distinguishable assets are people
  • Create and implement a system in which your organization consistently executes the action steps and communicates in the style noted above Monitor and measure results… continually discuss and refine the process regularly include this topic on staff meeting and sales meeting agendas; find a tool (such as NPS) to continually gather relevant customer feedback, and make use of it when making decisions

Growing a business is not easy work, but it can become easier if we delight, engage, and retain our customers.

Possibly Matthew Tashjian, a Senior VP at Merrill Lynch in Hartford, CT sums it up best as he often says, “One way to make money is to not lose any!”

60-Second Success Tip for Better Outbound Sales Calls

If making outbound sales or prospecting calls is part of your job, then you know it is important to continually improve your approach so that you will:

  • Stand out from others in a positive way
  • Increase conversion rates

You might find this short video a good place to start:

We might also suggest that you measure the “4 C’s” during implementation:

  1. Call volume
  2. Connects
  3. Conversations
  4. Conversions (i.e., # of conversations that convert into next steps)

The “Hard Part” of Business Development

hardworkWe all know that growing a business or sales territory is hard work. As noted in our previous post, a good start is to create an annualized business development plan. But simply crafting the plan isn’t enough! We must commit to the plan as well as to the proactive components of the plan — or as many people call them, the “hard part” of business development.

Honest Self Assessment
It’s important to realize that business development consists of both reactive and proactive elements.

Running advertisements, updating a web site, posting blog entries, distributing newsletters or attending networking events might all be parts of the plan, but once these action steps are taken we often find ourselves in a reactive position – that is, waiting for someone to call.

These reactive action steps are the “easy” components of business development. The more difficult aspects of business development include proactively working to make things happen. These more challenging activities include sending follow-up emails or letters in which we ask for or suggest next steps, leaving proactive voice-mail messages, making follow-up calls, and scheduling meetings.

Research, pre-call planning and some imaginative thinking are also part of the mix, but the “hard” part of business development is staying the course.

Statistics indicate that most things “happen” after someone (a seller) completes five or more contacts with a prospect. But most “sellers” make fewer than three approach calls – thus the challenge most of us face when trying to make things happen.

Setting goals and monitoring results are the best methods of ensuring success.

  • The first step is to identify the number of new customers or clients you’d like to add each month or each quarter
  • Using a reverse funnel approach, the next step is to estimate the number of appointments, lunches or meetings you’ll need to conduct in order to achieve the new customer goal
  • Step three is to determine the number of prospects you’ll need to contact (and how many times) in order to schedule the desired number of meetings
  • Now the real work begins… make the calls and measure the results

If appointments or meetings seem hard to come by, then review your metrics as well as your planning and messaging.

Growing a business or sales territory is not easy work. If you are able to achieve sufficient growth in a primarily reactive way – advertising, referrals, and so on – then you’re among the fortunate. For the rest of us, committing to proactive business development is the best approach.

Business Development: A 5-Step Plan

businessdevelopment300Do you have an annualized business development plan?

If not, please read on… because having such a plan can make the difference between success and failure, or possibly between a good year and a great one!

First let’s define the terms. An annualized plan is simply a schedule of which activities will be done and at what time. Plotting this information by month allows you to take advantage of any seasonal opportunities, and also to determine overall time and cost commitments. Business development is a multi-faceted practice that keeps your business moving ahead. It consists of various components, including:

  • Promoting your organization to develop a presence in your marketplace
  • Identifying new business opportunities with known and unknown prospects
  • Generating new business from referral sources and prospects
  • Generating new or incremental business from clients
  • Business retention

A close review of this list reveals three very important facts.

First is the fact that our customers and clients are also prospects for new or incremental business.

Second, there is a big difference between “identifying” business opportunities and “generating” them. While the former might, at times, be easier to accomplish, both activities are essential. Successful business development, therefore, requires a combination of marketing and selling skills. Other requirements include time management, organizational skills and a positive attitude.

The third key fact, simply stated, is “one easy way to get business is to not lose business!” Customer retention is an important element of every business development plan, because any lost business must be made-up if we are to achieve our overall goal.

Simple 5-Step Approach
Here’s a simple and proven approach that might help you to make the most of your business development effort this year:

  1. Identify an annual total revenue goal that encompasses desired growth. Your business development effort is the means by which this growth will be achieved – it’s best to break it down into dollars as well as the approximate number of new customers required.
  2. Identify an annual budget – note that you don’t have to spend a lot. You can plan to make the biggest impact via word-of-mouth, much of which comes from networking, selling and asking for referrals.
  3. Identify the components of your plan based on the budget and goals – these might consist of:
    • Advertising or sponsorship
    • Networking
    • Social Media
    • E-marketing (e-mail campaigns, web-site optimization, etc)
    • Telemarketing (not cold-calls, but strategic follow-up to networking encounters, mail, email, etc.)
    • Entertaining (lunch meetings, client events, etc.)
    • Business development meetings/selling appointments
    • Business retention
  4. Create a annualized plan [get sample template: free download]
  5. Work the plan; measure progress and achievement for ongoing improvement

Planning and persistence are the critical elements of success
The plan must be well-organized, and your approach to implementing the plan equally well-organized and persistent. The plan won’t work if you quit or if you only execute a portion of it. As John Wanamaker once said, “Half the money I spend on advertising is a waste. The problem is I don’t know which half!”

It is also true that developing new business requires the development of new business relationships. This is a process rather than a one-time-event, and it takes time – some experts have even identified the “rule of seven,” which states you will, on average, need to interact with a prospect seven times before getting serious consideration; others say it happens between the fifth and twelfth contact. Whatever the actual number might be, only those who persistently maintain their effort will achieve optimum success.

The final consideration involves the regular measurement of achievement and ongoing improvement. Each “contact” must be planned and, based on your success or failure, these plans must be evaluated and continually enhanced. Each contact must be value-added and fresh – so there’s plenty of work ahead. But it will be worth it when you tally the numbers at the end of the year!

Are You Interested?

interested3Whether you are a sales professional, sales manager, business executive or business owner, becoming “interested” is an important component of driving your organization’s sales and business development effort.

While great amounts of emphasis are more commonly placed on striving to become “interesting” in our interaction with others — that is, we focus on our “speaking points” and things we might say.

Instead, consider the concept of becoming more “interested” and how it might influence the various people involved.

Read the full article…

Sixty-Second Success Tip: Business Development

60secondsuccesstipsHere’s a short (approximately 1 minute) video that is part of our Sixty-Second Success Tips series.

This installment covers some business development fundamentals that might help you grow your sales territory or professional services practice.

As noted in the video, you can also download a free business development action plan from our website, which will help you to balance your approach and set a more strategic course for the year.

 

 

Growth Through Strategic Customer Service & Engagement

nl145quoteWhen asked, most people say they do their best to provide good customer service. However, methods can vary significantly and tend to be inconsistent.

To maximize the effectiveness of your team’s customer service and engagement effort, it’s best to develop and implement a measurable, strategic approach that leverages your organization’s unique benefits and that can become both consistent and cultural.

Creating a plan, setting goals, enhancing communication and monitoring results are the key elements of the process. Here are some specific ideas on how you might get started:

  1. The first step is to learn three key things about your customers what they like, what they don’t like and how they feel about your organization
  2. Next, identify your organization’s unique offerings from a products and services perspective (what you offer/do) as well as a cultural perspective (how you offer/do it). Note the alignment between these first two items, and then determine the things associated with your culture and unique offerings that your customers value the most the real benefits
  3. Develop a communication style that expresses these benefits in terms that are relevant to your customers (rather than to you and your staff)
  4. Define action steps that exemplify and reinforce your group’s culture; keep in mind, in most cases an organization’s most distinguishable assets are people
  5. Create and implement a system in which your organization consistently executes the action steps and communicates in the style noted above
  6. Monitor and measure results… continually discuss and refine the process regularly include this topic on staff meeting and sales meeting agendas

Growing a business or sales territory is not easy work, but it will become easier if we can engage, delight and retain our customers. Possibly Matthew Tashjian, a Senior VP at Merrill Lynch in Hartford, CT sums it up best, as he often says, “One way to make money is to not lose any!”

Read the full article…

“Interested” In Business Development?

interested3Whether you are a sales professional, sales manager, business executive or business owner, becoming “interested” is an important component of driving your organization’s sales and business development effort.

While great amounts of emphasis are more commonly placed on striving to become “interesting” when interacting with others, consider the concept of becoming more “interested” and how it influences the various people involved.

 “Interested” people tend to ask questions. So, this genuine interest can best be expressed by asking questions about day-to-day efforts, successes and challenges; we can then analyze the information gathered (by listening carefully to people’s answers to our questions) and proactively find ways to become involved in a value-added way.

Consider the fact that studies and surveys, including an extensive buyer’s poll done by the AMA, indicate that the way people feel has a significant impact on how they make decisions. In other words, according to one marketing expert, “People decide based on their emotions, and then justify it with the facts.”

If this viewpoint rings true, then consider how being “interested” in customers and prospects might make them feel and how it might influence their decisions.

Here are a few ideas on becoming both “interested” and, therefore, interesting:

  • Conduct research before calling or meeting with a customer or prospect. In only five-to-ten-minutes it is possible to identify potentially vital information about organizational accomplishments, priorities and potential needs.
  • When creating an agenda, place an equal amount of focus on both questions and speaking points. In the end, the questions will prove to be more important!
  • During discussions with customers or prospects avoid the tendency to present ideas or solutions too early. If we wait until our questions have been asked and an appropriate situational analysis completed, we’ll have a much better chance of “presenting” the right things.
  • Develop a circle of resources and, based on each conversation, be ready to make appropriate referrals should you uncover a problem that one of these providers might solve.

 

 

Three Steps to More Successful Business Development

BusinessDevelopmentPlanBusiness development is a process, and like any business process it can be continually improved.

Three key steps for enhancing your business development effort include:

  1. Develop a proactive plan that is results-driven – too many plans are based upon “when we have time…”
  2. Identify key activities – based upon your marketplace, a strategic combination of action steps such as networking, social media, meetings, email campaings, etc. that will enable you to achieve your results goals
  3. Annualize your plan – this will enable you to evaluate feasibility as well as to allocate time and resources to your effort

See related video…

The Next Step in Communication?

nextstepContinuing with the theme of effective business communication, most people agree communication is a critical component of success, whether selling, managing, marketing or just trying to get along with others.

One Simple Little Habit…
While there are obviously many facets of communication, there is one simple habit that, if well developed and consistently executed, will improve your business communication and success level in a BIG way!

It is the practice of specifically identifying and scheduling the next steps that are consequential to your communication – consequential to your discussions, your meetings, your teleconferences, your interviews, your sales calls, and so on.

If this seems too simplistic, please read on…