Tried and Tested Insights on Business Development Strategies
As a ‘brand-new-to-Brisbane’ Business Development Manager, post 18 months of travelling South East Asia and Australia, the task of creating suitable opportunities for sustainable growth can seem steeper than the climb to Mount Coot-Tha.
“Business Development? That’s cold calling and drink schmoozing?”
Although there is an element of strategically deployed phone calls and face-to-face networking which can aid conversion, let’s start from the beginning with a question that needs to be answered:
Business Development Vs Sales – what’s the difference?
Business Development is the process used to identify, target and onboard new client opportunities to drive long term growth and continuous profitability. A business development strategy is the supporting documentation on how you will accomplish that goal.
Think of the three key stages of a new business funnel:
- Alluring customers – the melting pot which includes a whole range of potential opportunities, influencers, referral resources and partnership opportunities
- Building engagement – qualifying and educating your opportunities
- Converting – turning qualified opportunities into clients
Business development strategy and tactics feed the funnel and work on reaching the wider audience. Targeting qualified opportunities brings a positive and long-term period of business growth. Sales strategy and tactics kick in at the later end of the of funnel, fuelling conversion.
Business Development Strategies – Tried and tested, just trust us.
Networking: The grass roots of business development.
The basics begin with leaning on your network to develop relationships and showcase your professional services.
To network with your target audience, you need to find out where they hang out. Nowadays, however, everyone has very little time for the traditional afterwork soirée. With a limited time resource, it means shifting efforts to digital networking via an establish social platform. Rolls out red carpet and welcomes LinkedIn! * cheers, applause, fanfare
We recently completed a period of extensive research into both next Thursday’s, and our own personal, LinkedIn network. We targeted a qualified selection of network contacts, in decision-making roles and those who had recently joined an organization. From this research into our network’s inner circle, we have won a new nationwide B2B client.
Referral: Networking’s older and better-looking sibling.
Referrals are the dessert of client satisfaction, and like sugary treats, they should be enjoyed only after exercise (hard work) and always be polite when you ask for seconds. Here at next Thursday, we have shown that referral can be the cherry on top, having recently acquired an automotive client that stemmed from a referral from a satisfied client.
Outbound Telephone and Mail: “You mean tele-sales and direct mail? Noooo!”*facepalm*
As the traditional (grandparents) of business development strategies, these are often seen as the gateway to success. But they can be timely, costly, and have a negative impact on a brand. The most effective use is part of a specific engagement piece. Potential opportunities that have made it “mid-way” in the business development funnel, can benefit from a personal and targeted outreach. It’s all about timing.
Thought Leadership & Content Marketing: Business Development has often been attributed to innovation and solution management.
Thinking outside of the box, celebrating clients who hand their brand babies to us and meeting our humble (neigh, thoroughbred) team can be a gentle nudge over the line for a warm lead.
Recently (you may or may not have heard) we have launched our very own next Thursday blog, where we share content that we discuss over Work-In-Progress meetings, morning tea and Friday afternoon drinks. The collection of thought leaders we have @next Thursday, is the crux of innovation and the path to client solutions- which are attributed to every single new business win. So why not showcase them?
Sponsorship and Advertising: Practice what you preach.
As the saying goes, put your money where your mouth is. Walk the walk, don’t just talk the talk. We’ve proven that sponsorship and advertising can be a successful business development strategy. The most promising advertising strategy seems to be a well-targeted digital advertising campaign. Targeting the right people, with the right message at the right time. Digital advertising is also great for increasing online visibility and it is totally measurable.
Combined Strategies: Strength in numbers.
Success is an uphill battle and we’re yet to locate the silver bullet. Business development activity is kick started to fix a problem right-here-right-now *cue Fat Boy Slim.* A strong BD strategy combines ‘all of the above’ while planning for today, tomorrow and somewhere over the rainbow.
Final though from the flight deck: BD strategy, development and implementation ain’t easy. Whatever strategy or combined strategies you choose – commit, research, plan and deploy. If you’re going to do something, do it right or don’t do it at all.
Our door is always open to share, create, connect.
Let’s chat anytime between now and nextThursday.