Business Development Steps and Strategies

Business development requires a multi-disciplinary approach and there is no ‘one size fits all’ strategy.

Below are some of the ways available to help ensure business development:

o Identify – Before you can seriously plan for business development it is necessary to identify new business opportunities.

o Plan – Once new business opportunities have been identified you will need to decide how you can best reach those new customers and markets. If your in-house resources are already stretched, you may need to look for help elsewhere. The same applies if you find the capacity or skills for business development do not already exist within your business. Outsourcing is not always as expensive as you think and could work out more cost effective over the time needed.

o Develop – What innovative marketing plans can you develop to raise your business profile among your existing customers and new markets? You may wish to consider things that you haven’t tried before. It is important that everything you plan to do can be tested on a small scale first and that you build in the opportunity to fine tune your efforts.

o Implement – If your business is not at the stage to appoint a full time marketing director, at least hire an experienced business development professional to work with your company for a few days a month.

Commitment is the key to business development. If you want to see results you must persevere. If your attempts are sporadic or you give up, you will waste the time, money and effort that have already been invested into your business development programme. Be consistent.

How To Create An Effective Business Development Strategy

The Business Development Strategy is used to underpin your main Business Plan and essentially it sets out a standard approach for developing new opportunities, either from within existing accounts or by proactively targeting brand new potential accounts and then working to close them.

This document highlights the key issues you should consider prior to compiling your own plan and will hopefully guide you logically through a proven framework.

The key word is ‘Strategy’, because you are creating a workable and achievable set of objectives in order to exceed your annual target.

Your Starting Point:

The key words are Who? What? Where? When? Which? Why? How?

For example:

Who – are you going to target?

What – do you want to sell them?

Where – are they located?

When – will you approach them?

Which – are the appropriate target personnel?

Why – would they want to meet with you?

How – will you reach them?

If you have conducted regular account reviews with your key accounts during the previous twelve months, you should be aware of any new opportunities that will surface during the next twelve months. You will also, when assessing what percentage of your annual target usually comes from existing accounts, need to review data over the last two or three years. (It is likely that you can apply Pareto i.e. 80% of your business will probably come from existing accounts and in fact 80% of your total revenue will come from just 20% of your customers/clients)

You will be left with a balance – i.e. “20% of my business next year will come from new opportunities” – therefore you can then begin to allocate your selling time accordingly.

Ideal Customer Profiling:

Pro-active business development demands that we create an ideal target at the front end – i.e. an “Ideal Customer Profile.” The essential characteristics you will need to consider are:

– Industrial Sector

– Geographical Location (Demographics)

– Size of organizations (Turnover, number of employees etc)

– Financial Trends

– Psychographics – i.e. Philosophical compatibility

Many strategic sales professionals merely profile their best existing clients and try to replicate them – there’s nothing wrong with doing this but we should always remember that we are seeking an IDEAL and we can always improve on what we already have.

‘New’ Opportunities From Within ‘Old’ Accounts:

Because it costs approximately ten times as much, to first locate and then sell to a new customer as it does an existing one (although these costs are rarely reflected in the cost of sales), it is essential that we fully develop our existing accounts working upwards, downwards and sideways, thus making the most of the (hopefully) excellent reputation we have developed already.

Most corporate accounts have several divisions, departments, sites, even country offices and you must satisfy yourself that you have exhausted every possible avenue. Don’t be afraid to ask the question “Who else should I be talking to in your organization”?

This is an extract from my FREE eBook – “How to Construct an Effective Business Development Strategy” which is available for download – please see details below.

Copyright © 2012 Jonathan Farrington. All rights reserved

What is Business Development?

Too often, I have encountered business managers hiring Sales people and classifying them as Business Developers. The same holds true when managers call their Sales people Marketing Professionals. Main reasons behind this misclassification are twofold: First, many people DO NOT understand what the differences are between sales, marketing, and business development. Second, organizations do not accurately recognize which of these functional areas need help to drive revenue and how they compliment each other. These misunderstandings of disciplines cause unrealistic expectations and failure to achieve goals.

Business Development (Biz-Dev) is often misunderstood. It is often times mistaken as purely a sales role and other times as a marketing initiative. Well, it is a little of both, but it is also much more. Understanding what Biz-Dev is and what it does can focus the strategic direction of an enterprise, which ultimately creates new opportunities. Biz-Dev can be sales oriented, but it also can act as an operational function to support sales. Biz-Dev supplements marketing, sales, operations, and management. All of these functions are dependent upon each other. Biz-Dev is part sales, part marketing, part strategy, part planning, and part management. Biz-Dev can also work on promotion of an enterprise or even relationship building functions.

Isn’t a business developer’s main job expected to generate sales? Isn’t the lifeblood of business driven by sales? Yes, the ultimate business goal of an enterprise is to gain and grow sales. Even non-profit organizations need to raise money to survive. Without sales there is no revenue, without revenue there is no working capital, no working capital means no sustainability, and so forth. However, all units in an organization affect the outcome of sales. A company must define its purpose and objectives within their business plan. Upper management must communicate directives to staff and control processes. Employees are accountable to perform duties within their unit of responsibility. All units must work cohesively with their output contributing to the common goal of the company. For example, marketing cannot initiate a promotional campaign without input from finance, otherwise budgets and production costs will soon run into chaos.

Simply said, Biz-Dev is management process that uses resources available to an organization and coordinates plan activities to achieve goals. Sometimes the goal is increased sales, but other times an organization needs improvement or aid in another part of its operation. Examples that are not exactly sales oriented include business planning, administrative refinement, market research, finance, general management, and more. The bottom line is Biz-Dev can perform multiple initiatives to achieve a goal that will improve a functional business process resulting in opportunity. Think of Biz-Dev as project management for sales.

Understanding the various roles Biz-Dev can perform will improve the focus of your enterprise and help achieve its goals.