Building Blocks of Business Development

Everyone has dreamt of becoming his/ her own boss. And the way to do this is by putting up a business. However, only a few people have realized their plans and much fewer succeed at it. People say that businessmen, aside from having the money to start their own business, have a certain skill which few people are blessed with. They are risk-takers. Business development in some way is like gambling. An entrepreneur invests money, time and effort into a venture that has a fifty-fifty success to failure ratio. This is the very reason why a lot of dreamers do not pursue their business ambitions. Successful businessmen have mastered and formulated their own recipe for success but it all boils down to careful planning. Because they may be risk-takers but they are also careful planners.

There is no definite formula in business development. There are different strategies that can be formulated depending on the nature and size of the business itself. But there are factors that should not be left out and it applies to all.

  1. Recognize the opportunity. Assess the market. Identify what is out there and what is not offered yet. In determining the business venture to tap into, the status and the demand of the market need to be considered and its potential evaluated. A reason for putting up a business is not only because there is something to offer but there should also be a market to offer it to.
  2. Customers come first. The business should revolve around the customer. After all, they are the ones who will keep the business alive. It is important to get to know the target market, to identify not only their needs and wants but what they potentially need or want which they do not know yet. But the population is enormous so it is also necessary to identify the most profitable customers. Hence, the primary target has to be separated from the secondary market. However, demographics should not be the only focus. There should also be a behavioural and lifestyle analysis of the customers.
  3. How to reach them. By knowing the customer, target points will then be determined. Where are these customers likely to be found or how to get to them? This involves the different media that the target utilizes in a day-to-day basis such as TV, Radio, Print, billboard, point of sale, Internet, etc.
  4. How to sell. Once the target’s whereabouts is identified, the next step is to use sweet spots to get them to buy. What can attract their attention and what can convince them. Do they respond to sales promotion or do they rely on word of mouth, etc.
  5. Generate repeat business. Satisfy the customers and exceed their expectations not only to keep them under the radar but also to generate good publicity.

Nothing is a hundred percent sure but business development should also not be a hit and miss. It’s risky but careful planning and perseverance will increase the likeliness to succeed.

Having a Spotter in Business Development

I recently watched Mark Wahlberg’s movie Shooter “again”. I really love this movie! In the movie Shooter, actor Mark Wahlberg’s character is a sniper and he lost his spotter. He died in a maneuver that went wrong. This spotter was the sniper’s good friend and military comrade. So, he recruited actor Mike Pena as his new spotter.

The movie reminds me of business development. You know, in business development, you really should not go it alone. There should be a business development team. The team would be responsible for finding new business opportunities, pitching the company’s products and services to ideal prospects, attending pre-bid meetings, attending trade conferences, drafting bid proposals, and attending competitive interviews for short-listed vendors that have responded to solicitations for bids.

For any one deal you are going after, it would be neat to have a spotter. In business development, it would be neat to have a spotter to tell you what is out there with respect to business competitive intelligence.

The spotter was the sniper’s look out man and he would advise the sniper by calling out sayings such as:

You’ve gotta get out of there!
Incoming… 2 o’clock!
They’re right in front of you!
They’re all over the place!

Not to make light of military maneuvers, but it would be really cool to have folks looking out for you in a similar way in business development settings like government agency pre-bid meetings or competitive pitch interviews. Your spotters could tell you what the prospects’ staff and what your competition is up to. This is known as competitive intelligence. If you are in there alone, you may miss out on what others hear and see with respect to business and development and business competitive intelligence.

In the Mark Wahlberg movie Shooter, my favorite line in the movie is when an elderly, retired sniper says:

“The world ain’t what it seems. The minute you think you got it figured, you’re wrong!”.

This is precisely why it is extremely important to have a business development team. The more intelligence you can gather about who your competition is, what your competition is saying and doing, what your competition is likely to do, the better you’ll be able to figure things out. Even if you cannot afford to hire someone full time, consider paying a consultant to show up and give you feedback on what she is hearing and seeing.

By Clovia Hamilton, MBA JD – President

Lemongrass Consulting Inc.

Tips For More Sales and Business Development

Are you a good selling or business development professional? What distinguishes you from the remainder of the pack?

With over 27 years of experience working with those that develop business and sell for a living I find the following characteristics:

1- Those that seek relationships not a commission check

2- Do not procrastinate, using the hours in the day wisely to be with prospective and current clients

3- Do not waste “windshield time” on wasteful things or nothing

4- Reads voraciously to understand competitive intelligence that aids the client

5- Establishes a strategic account profile to understand prospective client opportunities and limitations

6- Knows the economic buyer in their accounts and does not waste time with gatekeepers

7- Think strategically not tactically to engage buyers

8- Learning the client’s business and discovering methods to assist them now and in the future

9- Prepare provocative questions that engage and enlighten

10-Knows when to listen and when to speak

11-Networks constantly to meet new buyers

12-Engages a sales process

13-Creates emotion and has a passion for the sales process

14-Believes in what they are selling

15-Nurtures relationships with proper customer service, returning all calls and emails in a timely manner

16-Uses and respects the relevance of CRM reporting useful data to upper management

17-Understands the importance of customer to customer influences on account management

18-Thinks in terms of client outcomes, not units sold

19-Dresses professionally and is ready to engage with every client

20-Has poise and flexibility to engage gatekeeper and buyer ethically

Use the following as a checklist for your selling professionals if you are a manager or for you personally if you sell for a living. Check back periodically to determine methods to make you a more effective seller to alleviate time and develop more business.

©2010. Drew Stevens PhD. All Rights Reserved.