If you would like to grow your business or sales territory this year, try making a true commitment to the proactive components of your business development plan.
We all know that growing a business or sales territory is hard work, especially in more challenging economic times when referrals and leads are less plentiful, customers are spending less and the competition is tougher. A good start (see related newsletter article ) 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.
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 activities include sending follow-up emails or letters suggesting 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, and now is the time to get started for 2011.
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 message.
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.