Your business development strategy can be key to the success or failure of your firm. In this informative article, we will explore how to create a strategy and related strategy that may propel an individual, a practice or an entire company to new heights of profitability and growth.
Business growth (BD) is the process that is utilized to identify, nurture and acquire new customers and business opportunities to drive profitability and growth. A business development plan is a record that explains the strategy you will use to accomplish this goal.
The scope of business growth can be wide ranging and vary a lot from organization to organization. Think about the design of how professional services organizations get new business revealed in Figure 1.
The first two stages of the model, Attracting Prospects and Build Engagement, are traditional advertising and marketing functions. The last stage, Turning Opportunities into Clients, is a conventional sales function. In the standard function, business development would be trying to find new channels of distribution or advertising partners.
But roles are changing and naming conventions evolve. In the modern world many firms refer to the entire marketing and sales process as business growth. I know, it could be confusing. So let us sort it out a bit.
- Business Development vs. Marketing
- Business Development vs. Sales
- Profitable Business Development Strategies
- Most Effective Business Development Tactics Killer
- Business Development Plan
Business Development vs. Marketing
Marketing is the process of determining which products and services that you will offer to which target audiences, at what price. It also addresses how you will position and promote your company and its offerings in the competitive market.
The result of all this action should be an increasing awareness of your company among your target audience — and a stronger flow of qualified leads and opportunities.
Historically, business development has been a subset of the marketing function that has been focused on getting new marketing or distribution connections and stations.
Although this function still exists in many businesses, the business development title has become synonymous with many advertising and sales purposes.
Business Development vs. Sales
Revenue is the job of converting leads or opportunities into new customers. And while there’s some overlap, many conventional BD functions are only lightly engaged in closing new customers.
Business growth is often confused with earnings. This isn’t too surprising since most people that are clearly in earnings have taken to using the name of Business Developer. Presumably that is done because the organization believes that the BD designation averts some potential stigma associated with earnings.
Nowhere is this exercise more prevalent than in services. Accountants, attorneys and strategy consultants do not want to be seen as”pushy sales people.” This titular prejudice is firmly rooted despite the fact that developing new business is an important role of most senior members of professional services companies.
Since so many customers wish to meet and get to know the professionals they’ll be working with, the Seller-doer role is well established in several businesses. The taste for Seller-doers also tends to dissuade firms from fielding a full-time sales force.
As an alternate way of using fee-earners’ time, some firms have more Business Developers online employees. In the expert services context, these folks are often involved in lead generation and qualification, as well as supporting the Seller-doers in their efforts to shut new customers.
The end result of this confusing picture is that many professional services firms call earnings”business development” and make it a part of every senior professional’s role. They might also incorporate some marketing purposes, like lead generation and lead nurturing, into the professional’s BD responsibilities.
It’s this expanded role, in which business development encompasses the full range of lead generation, nurturing and earnings tasks, which we’ll concentrate on in this post.
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Profitable Business Development Strategies
Deciding which strategies to use to create new business is actually a high stakes decision. A good strategy, well executed, can drive high levels of growth and profitability. A faulty strategy can stymie growth and frustrate precious talent.
However, many firms falter at this important step. They rely on habit, anecdotes and fads — or worse still,”this is the way we’ve always done it”
Let’s take a look at some of the most frequent business development approaches and how they stack up with today’s buyers.
Networking is probably the most universally used business development approach. It is built on the concept that professional services purchasing decisions are rooted in relationships, and the perfect method to create new connections is via face-to-face networking.
It surely is true that lots of relationships do develop in that manner. And if you’re networking with your target audience, you are able to create new business. However there are limitations. It can be quite costly, if you consider travel and time away from the office.
Newer digital networking techniques will help on the price and front. But social networking demands an investment of time and attention.
The close relative of media, referrals are often regarded as the mechanism which turns networking and customer satisfaction into new business. You set a connection, and that person refers a new business to you. Satisfied clients do the same.
But referrals are passive. They rely upon your customers and contacts to identify good prospects for your services and earn a referral at the ideal moment.
The problem is referral sources frequently do not know the full range of ways to help a client. So many referrals are badly matched to your abilities. Other well-matched referrals go unmade as your referral source fails to realize the fantastic potential when they see one.
Finally many prospects which may be good clients rule out your firm before even speaking with you. One recent research sets the number at over 50%.
Importantly, you will find new digital strategies that may accelerate referrals. Making your particular experience more visible is the key. This permits people to make better referrals and raises your referral base beyond clients and a couple of business contacts.
There are few tools more powerful for salespeople and marketers than a satisfied client’s referral. And even though most satisfied customers would happily abandon a review or refer a friend, many salespeople and marketers just don’t ask.
Asking for a client referral can be an intimidating process at first. It goes against our nature to ask a person to put in a fantastic word for us. But trust me once I say that asking for a referral is not just easy, but incredibly helpful for your business. This infographic shows just how important it is to have your customers talk on your behalf because they are among the most trusted sources of brand info. Other clients will likely act based on their recommendations.
So next time you complete a sale or interact with a current, loyal client, don’t hesitate to ask for a referral. You could be amazed by how prepared they are to oblige.
3. Sponsorship and Advertising
Would you create new business directly by sponsoring events and advertising? It would solve a great deal of problems if it works. No more trying to acquire time from fully utilized billable professionals.
Alas, the results on this front aren’t too encouraging. Studies have revealed that traditional advertising is actually related to slower growth. Only when advertising is combined with other techniques, like speaking in an event, do these methods bear fruit.
The most promising advertising strategy seems to be well-targeted electronic advertisements. This permits firms to get their messages and offers in front of the proper people in a lower price.
Last, the time will arrive for all the sponsorship activation plans to become reality. For the majority of athletes this is going to be an entirely new adventure and, in some specific areas of activation, quite possible the only time they’ll do it.
The athlete should know what he is letting himself in for; the sponsor (and by extension, its marketing or event management agencies) must be aware of his subject.
Activation is never a easy procedure and can be fraught with danger and obstacles. Meticulous preparation is necessary. The cardinal sin is to break your laurels and expect certain things just to drop in place on the day of activation.
However, when performed professionally the outcomes of a successful real activation program will catapult the sponsor’s brand and the athlete’s picture to the consciousness of the target audience in ways that pure advertising cannot.
The athlete’s buy-in and level of involvement is the trick to this result. That doesn’t mean pandering to his every wish, but instead understanding his motivations, matching his degrees of professionalism and getting the best out of what’s a significant investment from a financial and standing point of view for the host.
By the exact token, this is not the time for the athlete to be smug. He should have an appreciation for the privilege of being involved in a major sponsorship effort.
It’s of course not their error, however generally speaking athletes have no clue how long it takes to create a sponsorship occasion, be it the shooting of a television commercial, organising a golf day or whatever. Again, it is something simple to overcome if the two parties attempt to have an understanding of another one’s perspective.
By way of example, if the stimulation program entails a photo shoot, then the sponsor needs to make sure all the teething pains and imaginative discussions are ironed out until the athlete arrives on place. Similarly, the athlete must be ready for a day that could drag on forever with creative talks, shoots, re-shoots and resets.
Be ready for a great deal of boring periods and help everybody involved undergo the torpors of the day. You’re getting paid for this after all.
Leveraging events must be kept simple and tight. However, where things can be manipulated, keep it tight and simple. On a photo shoot, by way of instance, having a big team, lots of your staff present and everyone staring while the athlete is already out of his comfort zone is a certain means of obtaining a poor outcome.
Just have necessary people from the team or your employees current. It might disappoint lots of people in the workplace but will make the athlete considerably more comfy.
Ultimately, everyone involved in the activation event will be wise to adhere to the plan. Obviously unforeseen things happen and the activation group must think on its toes but prevent the”ah, I have just had a brilliant idea minutes”.
Sponsors, recall: Athletes live a surprisingly structured life. On an activation event, more likely than not, he’ll be out of the comfort zone. He’d love to understand what’s happening beforehand and what’s due to him.
Above all, if all parties involved in a sponsorship activation programme maintain a professional approach and mutual admiration for each other (we’re all just doing our jobs as best we can), no real time relationship ought to be tortured but enjoyable and the basis of a mutually beneficial partnership.
4. Outbound Telephone and Mail
Professional services firms have been using telephone calls and mail to directly target prospective clients for decades. Target the right companies and roles with a relevant message and you would expect to seek out new opportunities that can be developed into customers.
There are a couple key challenges with these plans. First they are relatively expensive, so they will need to be just right to succeed. Second, if you do not catch the prospect at the right time, your offer may not have any appeal relevance — and consequently, no impact on business growth.
Regardless of the ongoing right of social networking, email remains the best way for many marketing teams to nurture leads and turn them into a customer. However, because unsolicited spam email is now crowding many consumer inboxes and those very same consumers are accustomed to being constantly accosted by advertisements, it’s very important to your mails to stand out amongst the crowd. Some of the most important reasons to increase the effectiveness of your outbound email marketing campaigns include:
- Email is still the king of communication – At least 91 percent of customers check their email inbox on a daily basis, the maximum participation of any communication channel currently available to consumers.
- You have control over your list – When it comes to email lists, no one can take those leads from you that is similar to the volatility of many social networking platforms. On external systems, your account could be compromised at any time, including suspension or deletion, and the list of your supporters and connections on those platforms would be lost.
- Time to converts – Those customers who purchase products marketed through email spend an average of 138% more than people who don’t receive email offers. Actually, email marketing can get an ROI of around 3800% — probably because of the minimal investment needed to make outbound emails. To put this in perspective, the average order value of email is three or more times higher than that of social media.
The key is to have a very appealing offer delivered to some extremely qualified and responsive listing. It is not easy to find this combination right.
5. Thought Leadership and Content Marketing
Here, the strategy is to make your expertise visible to prospective buyers and referral resources. This can be accomplished through writing, speaking or publishing content that shows your expertise and how it can be applied to solve customer problems.
Many high visibility experts have built their practices and companies upon this tactic. It often requires a good part of a career to execute this approach.
But changing times and technology have reshaped this strategy. With the onset of digital communication it’s now easier and much faster to establish your experience with a target market. Search engines have leveled the playing field so that relatively unknown individuals and companies may get known even outside their bodily region.
Webinars have democratized public speaking, and blogs and sites give every firm a 24/7 presence. Insert in video and social media and the budding expert can access a vastly expanded market.
However, these improvements also open firms to much greater competition too. You might find yourself competing with experts whom you were not conscious of.
The impact is to raise the stakes on your business development plan.
Content advertising effort is the ideal way to achieve the target audience at a larger range. Whether a company is B2B or B2C, content marketing is vital for both of the sort of companies and also to no doubt this type of marketing calls for maximum efforts.
More than 63 percent of businesses do not have a documented content promoting campaign plan.
Due to large competition, it becomes really difficult for the entrepreneurs to think of unique ideas continuously to attract the target market.
Articles, sites, white newspapers are published to inform the viewers about a particular subject. White papers give knowledge about a specific topic and answer to an issue and therefore, are most trusted by the readers.
So, here today, we will be sharing with you some tips to start your content marketing campaign and make it successful:
#1 Set a Goal
Defining the Why, How and When is the most important thing before you begin working on the campaign. Answers to these can help you plan a successful campaign for your own white papers.
#2. Target Audience
Having a proper understanding of the target market is a mandatory job for every marketer. Knowing geographic and demographic features of this Target Audience will help in planning the ideal Campaign which will bring out results for you.
Working on building templates for e-mails is a time-saving and intelligent idea. For outbound email campaign only one template is enough for a beginning.
#4. Social Media
When you have planned the campaign and are ready to start with it, study correctly thesocial networking platforms target market is present at.
Share the articles only on those platforms that are used by TA. This can help you reach the possible TA and a few lead generation too.
6. Combined Strategies
It is common to combine distinct business development strategies. By way of example, networking and referrals are often used together. And on one level, a combined strategy makes great sense. The potency of a single approach can shore up the weakness of another.
But there is a hidden danger. For a strategy to perform at its peak, it has to be fully executed. There is a danger that by attempting to execute too many different strategies you’ll never completely implement any of them.
Great goals, however challenging, are of little actual business development value.
It’s far more effective to completely implement a very simple strategy than to innovate into a complicated one. Fewer components, aptly implemented, produce better results.
Next, we turn our focus to the tactics used to execute a high-level strategy. But there is a bit of confusion to clean up.
Most Effective Business Development Tactics Killer
The line between tactics and strategy is not necessarily clear. By way of instance, you can think of networking as a general business growth strategy or as a strategy to boost the effects of a thought leadership strategy. Confusing, to be sure.
From our standpoint, the distinction is about attention and intent. If media is the business development strategy, all of your focus must be on creating the networking more effective and productive. You may select tactics that are targeted at making media more effective or easier.
You may try out another marketing strategy and drop it in case it does not help you implement your networking strategy.
On the flip side, if networking is simply one of several tactics, your choice to utilize it depends on whether it supports your larger plan. Tactics and techniques could be tested and easily changed.
Which business development tactics are best? To discover, we recently ran a study that looked at over 1000 professional services firms. The research identified those firms that were growing at greater than a 20% compound annual growth rate over a three-year interval.
These High Growth firms were compared to companies in the same sector that did not grow over the exact same time period. We then analyzed which business development tactics were used by each team and which supplied the most effect.
The outcome is a listing of the ten most impact tactics employed by the High Growth companies (see Figure 2).
Figure 2. 10 most impactful business development tactics.
- Networking at targeted conferences, trade shows and events
- Providing assessments and/or consultations
- Demos (in-person or digital)
- Using a proposal toolkit
- Speaking at targeted conferences or events
- Video blogging
- Creating downloadable, gated content
- Nurturing prospects through phone calls
- Publishing written blog posts on your website
- Digital ads (pay-per-click, banner ads, etc.)
Written By : LEE FREDERIKSEN, PH.D
There are a couple of important observations about these expansion tactics. To begin with, these methods can be used in service of different business development strategies.
For instance number five among the talking at conferences that are targeted or events, can easily support a networking or a thought leadership strategy.
Another observation is that the best approaches include a mixture of both electronic and traditional techniques.
As we’ll see when we create your plan, obtaining a healthy mixture of digital and conventional techniques tends to improve the impact of your plan.
Business Development Plan
A Business Development Plan is a document that outlines how you implement your business development strategy. It can be a strategy for an individual, a practice or the firm as a whole.
Its scope covers both the marketing and sales functions, since they are so intertwined in most professional services firms.
Here are the key steps to develop and document your strategy.
1. Define Your Target Audience
Who are you trying to attract as new customers? Focus on your “best-fit” clients, not all possible prospects. It’s best to concentrate on a narrow target market. But don’t go so narrow you can’t achieve your business objectives.
The more you know about your target audience the better equipped you are to draw their attention and communicate how you can assist them. What are the key business issues? Is your experience applicable to these issues? Where do they search for suggestions and inspiration? What’s the competitive environment such as? How do you stack up?
3. Identify your competitive advantage
What makes you different? What’s that better for your intended client? Are you the most cost-effective option, or the industry’s top expert? This “positioning” as it’s often called, needs to be true, provable and relevant to the prospect in the time they are choosing which company to work with. Be sure to document this positioning, as you will use it over and over again as you develop your messages and marketing tools.
4. Profitable Strategy
Pick the extensive approach or strategies to reach, engage and convert your prospects. You can start with the list of top approaches provided previously. Which strategy fits with the demands and preferences of your target audiences? Which ones best convey your competitive advantage? For example, if you are competing because you have superior industry expertise, a notion leadership/content marketing strategy will likely serve you well.
5. Business Development Tactics
A great place to start is the list of the most effective approaches we provided above. Make sure each technique you select fits your target audience and plan. Remember, it is not about your tastes or familiarity using a strategy. It is about what works together with the audience.
Some techniques work great for gaining prominence but do not address longer-term nurturing. You have to cover the complete funnel.
Second, you want a fantastic balance between electronic and traditional methods (Figure 3). Your study must notify this selection. Be careful about assumptions. Just because you do not use social media does not mean that a portion of your prospects do not use it to check you out.
When, how often, which conferences, what topics? Now’s the time to settle the details that turn a wide strategy to a particular plan. Many plans include a content or advertising calendar, which lays out the particulars per week by week.
If this is too much detail to you, at least record what you’ll do and how frequently. You’ll require these details to track the execution of your plan.
6. Monitor Implementation and Impact
Often overlooked, these important factors often spell the difference between failure and success. Unimplemented strategies don’t work. Keep tabs on what you do, and if.
This will both motivate action and provide a great starting place because you troubleshoot your own strategy. Also track and record the effects that you see. The most apparent effect will be just how much new business you shut. But it’s also advisable to monitor new prospects or new contacts, at the bare minimum.
Finally, don’t neglect important process results such as referrals, new names added to a listing and downloads of content that expose prospects and referral resources to your expertise.
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