How do you, and your organisation, approach business development? That is, how do you work to grow your business?
- Are you a ‘shotgun marketer’? Spray your marketing efforts in a wide arc hoping to ‘wing’ a few customers and bring them to ground?
- Or are you a replay marketer? Do what you have always done?
- Or maybe a ‘shiny things’ marketer? Are you the type that was the first on Facebook, Twitter and any other ‘shiny new’ marketing idea?
Business Development is something that is a necessity in any business. Whether you are a local pizza shop selling to the neighbourhood, or a major corporate selling around the globe, the way that you think about business development will have a massive impact on the success of your business.
Working with many organisations across a spectrum of industries on business development, it has become clear that there are lots of areas where organisations can become more efficient and effective in developing their businesses, and setting themselves up for long term success.
Here are a few tips and ideas that can challenge and support your thinking:
Business development is a strategic responsibility. You can either plan it wisely or leave it to chance. Quality BD is based on specific choices in how you invest your resources to take your business forward. They say that up to 65% of all marketing and business development spend is wasted, but companies and leaders just don’t know which part of their spend is effective, and which is not. Their ‘choices’ of resource investment are not really well considered.
Some organisations choose to reduce their spending on marketing – they want to reduce the ‘costs’ side of their business. They slash across the board (taking effective and ineffective programs down with them). It saves costs, but it is often done without specific planning on what business development should be invested in, what will have impact, and why.
The first step in setting up strategic business development is to set up a longer term view of your business. Establishing it over 3 horizons (today, short term, medium term), and applying a simple approach like ‘5E’s’ allows a leader or a business to really understand where the business is going, and how it will get there. It also provides a key insight into where business development investments will need to be made.
From this framework, a business can either ‘courageously’ follow the plan, or fall victim to the biggest enemies of business development and marketing: FEAR and HABIT.
Every activity that you do out of habit (‘we have always done that’) or fear (‘what if we don’t do it?) that is not aligned to your BD vision is money, time, effort and people wasted. (If you want to find that 65% of your spend that is wasted, start here!)
Creating action plans to grow your current business often means taking your ideas out into the marketplace. However, BD is not just about attracting new clients, it may be about growing your current clients, stopping ‘leakage’ of clients from your business or developing whole new segments. The key driver of this is to know how you want to develop your business, and why.
And it starts with your WHY. When you are clear on the community or customers who you serve, and the way that you serve their purpose with WHAT you do, and HOW you do it, then you can gain a whole new sense of clarity about how to present yourself, to whom, and which customers you want to be the core of your business development activity.
Having people committed to serving your purpose, and your customer’s purpose is critical. However, they still need the specific performance and cognitive skills to be great business developers.
Ask yourself: Can your people sell? can they negotiate? Can they build quality relationships? Do they ask great questions to unlock the value proposition in the heart and mind of the customer?
Research shows that there are particular styles of reps who are the most high performing. These characteristics are also highly valued in business development managers.
What do you think the top attribute of a ‘star’ business development talent would be?
- Relationship building?
- Hard working?
- A ‘lone wolf’
- A problem solver?
- A challenger?
(Answer in the next paragraph!)
The truth is a mix of attributes is important. Our business development managers have to be flexible (to work with a range of clients), persistent (not giving up at ‘No’), build quality relationships and know how to leverage them. The most successful attribute is the ability to appropriately and confidently challenge the current perception and views of the customer, so they have an ‘Ooh’ moment – they gain value through insights (The answer is “Challenger”!). Sometimes this can be uncomfortable, but it is always centred on the interest of the customer – having a real passion for them to understand something more, gain more value, see and be inspired in a new way.
We don’t have to like someone to buy from them, but we need to trust that we are getting value.
Further, Business Development needs to be a structural component of your business.
In your business: Who is responsible and accountable for it? When is BD done? How is it planned, measured, reviewed and rewarded?
So how does your business development measure up?
- Do you think about it strategically?
- Do you apply resources thoughtfully?
- Do you have a compelling purpose and customers for whom that is important?
- Do you hunt out all FEAR and HABIT to be more effective and efficient?
- Do have the structure and processes in place?
- Do you have the skills within the right people?
The real question is: Are you an accidental tourist in the land of Business Development, or do you do it by design?
If enhancing business development in your organisation is your ‘Bigger Game’, drop me a line. We can grab a coffee and see what effective, efficient business development can look like for you.