Tag Archives: business development

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!

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.

 

 

“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.

 

 

Business Development Contact Frequency?

count
Sales call frequency…?

People often ask, “How many calls can we make on a prospect before calling too frequently or crossing the line?”

Here are a few guidelines…

First, consider the following facts, which we shared last year in a related article – studies show that approximately 80% of those involved in business development approach prospects two or three times and then give up.

Now, consider the importance of these National Sales Executive Association stats regarding the importance of persistent follow-up:

  • 2% of sales are made on the 1st contact
  • 3% of sales are made on the 2nd contact
  • 5% of sales are made on the 3rd contact
  • 10% of sales are made on the 4th contact
  • 80% of sales are made after the 5th contact

Next, consider the fact that sheer “frequency” does not guarantee success. Each contact must be “value-added” in order to properly impact your target audience or prospects. This requires research, planning and good communication (probing and listening) skills.

When Do We Cross the Line?
Considering this information simultaneously, the best answer to the call frequency question is that we “cross the line” when our calls have no value for the prospect or customer.

Sixty-Second Success Tip: Business Development

clock60Our previous post shared a five-step approach to an annualized business development plan.

This “sixty-second success tip” video adds additional perspective to the value and importance of taking an annualized approach, and also lists some specific examples of key activities you might want to include in your plan.

See the video…

Do You Have an Annualized Business Development Plan?

BusinessDevelopmentPlanDo 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 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.

Read the full article & 5 Step Approach…
(ideal for professional service providers as well as sales professionals!)

I’m Calling Because Challenge

conversionAs the New Year begins many of us will resolve to improve our new business development effort.  If so, do you have a  compelling ‘subject line’ or ‘I’m calling because’ strategy so that a higher percentage of your phone calls and emails will result in selling conversations?

Most people agree that when receiving a prospecting email or telephone call, they quickly decide whether or not they have any interest… or at least a sufficient interest to read or listen more.

And the tendency is to decide they do NOT!

This means business development personnel have only a few seconds to make a positive impression on their audiences.

So, when making prospecting calls or sending similar emails, how might we best address the two most immediate questions our audience is likely to have:

  •  “Why are you calling/emailing me?”
  • “How will I benefit?”

It follows, therefore, that to maximize the effectiveness of outbound prospecting calls and emails we should be prepared with a strong introductory statement or subject line that quickly and concisely addresses these questions…

The Challenge
Consider that it is most common for business development calls or emails to begin with statements about the seller, such as “I’m calling because we have a new…” or “I’m calling because we’re the number one…”  These are not overly compelling, and more often bring about the, “We’re not interested…” type of response.

So here’s the challenge: when crafting your “I’m calling because…” telephone introduction, the next word after the word “because” can NOT be one of the following: “I,” “we,” or “our.” Similarly, the subject line in your prospecting email can NOT be about what you do.

Instead, we must craft a subject line that concisely expresses WHY we’re reaching out in terms of HOW our audience will benefit… and a telephone introduction that concisely explains, “I’m calling because and HOW our audience will benefit…”

While this might sound simple, in practice it is not easy. But if our subject line begins with / or if the next word after the word “because” in our telephone introduction is “you,” you’re or “your,” we stand a much better chance of gaining our prospect’s attention or consideration.

Are you up to the challenge?