For business owners, priority #1 is expanding their business and increasing revenues. Critical to success is developing and executing a solid business development strategy. By deploying some simple techniques, you can attract more clients, increase profitability, and form strategic partnerships. Let’s take a look at six critical steps to business development and how they work together.
What is the best way to document a business development plan?
Writing a business development plan is an excellent way to document the details of how you plan to achieve your sales results and engage your customers. You can do this on a simple sheet of paper or in a Word document. Don’t worry if you don’t have a lot of detail in the beginning. Start by listing out some basic goals and strategies. You can add to this document as your business grows or your needs change. A business coach can help you through this process.
1. Find Your Niche
Sometimes trying to do too many things at once can hurt your business. Instead, focus on the skills and knowledge you have, how you can best apply them, and the companies and industries you know best. Concentrating your efforts on a smaller market segment makes it easier to recognize ways to add value to clients. It is also a good idea to focus on only a handful of key product or service offerings. Remember the quote, “a jack of all trades is a master of none.”
2. Identifying Your Ideal Client or Customer
Once you’ve settled on the type of service you want to offer clients, work to figure out who will be your best customers and where to find them. As a part of your business development strategy, make a target list of people most likely to buy your services. Also, identify the decision-makers in the organizations you plan to target. Sometimes the decision-maker is not easy to identify and even more challenging to get in front of. Some clients may have more than one decision-maker. Pitching your product to those that will listen may feel good, but unless you meet or have access to the decision-maker, there is little chance for success.
3. Position Your Offer to Solve a Problem
People buy solutions, not products and services, to help them solve specific problems or “pain points.” Think about the challenges and issues affecting your target clients. How can you best engage and help to resolve them? Once you know how you will solve their problems, think about creative ways to communicate your solutions to potential clients. Look for ways to position your offering to demonstrate how you will alleviate any possible pain points. By showing clients how you will solve their problems, you significantly improve your chances of getting the deal.
4. Presenting Your Services
The presentation is one of the most critical moments in the process. You’ve designed your business around your specialty, identified your ideal customer, and have positioned your services to meet particular needs. The way you present your services makes all the difference between a rejection and a successful business relationship. Try to make your pitch as natural, concise, and collaborative as possible. The last thing you want is to bore the person with a 30-minute presentation by doing all the talking. Instead of telling them what they need, ask them what they need. As the conversation progresses and you learn more about their business and pain points, you can tailor your message on the fly to show them how you will address those points.
5. Closing the Deal
Closing is often one of the most challenging parts of the process. Once you’ve presented your solution and addressed any questions, it’s time for the client to decide to go with you. Don’t be afraid to be bold and ask them directly for the business. Start by recapping your discussion’s key points and highlighting the desired outcomes that they shared with you. Then, restate the benefits of working with you and why working with you is their best option. With their agreement to move forward, be sure to lock in the formal written approval or contract as soon as possible.
6. Follow Up
Many forget how important it is to stay in touch with clients! Once an engagement is completed, clients look forward to hearing from you to see how they are doing. One study found that 48 percent of salespeople never attempt a single follow-up. This is not effective considering that 60 percent of customers say no four times before saying yes in a sales situation. Remember the 80-20 rule: 80% of your business comes from 20% of your clients. Even if your client doesn’t have any work for you today, they may need you next month or next year. Getting business from existing clients is significantly easier than acquiring new clients because they already know and trust you.
Grow Your Business Development Strategy
Improving your business development skills takes hard work and plenty of practice. In the beginning, you will probably make a few mistakes but view these as opportunities to learn. When you fail to close a deal, ask yourself what you could have done differently. In some cases, you might have the chance to ask the client this yourself. Over time, you will see your closing rates increase as you book more clients and grow your business.
Bill Taylor is president of Corporate Ladders, a business development consulting and coaching firm specializing in helping professional services firms grow top-line revenues. You can reach him with your questions or comments by phone at +1 201 825 8296 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.