Business development is essential for maintaining growth. It requires a proactive and committed approach to safeguarding and expanding your business, especially in challenging times. Here are 8 approaches to foster the creation of potential leads:
1. Look for businesses going through transformations
Businesses are constantly evolving. Pay attention to companies changing. Research what drives the changes and how you can help them. I met a potential client at a networking event, and they talked about wanting to shift their business into a much bigger market. They wanted significant revenue growth, and they wanted to expand their service offering. I decided to research their potential market. They needed a significant change to be competitive and hit the ground running. Firstly, their identity required a rebrand to align more with their potential market, and they needed to hire more highly skilled people to deliver at this level. I knew I could help them with their goals through business development. I reached out, arranged a meeting and built a relationship with them over a few months before they brought me on to work with them.
2. Stay curious and informed in industries outside of your own
You’ll learn much more by understanding what is happening in other markets or industries. You will gain valuable insights by meeting new people, asking questions, and listening. When you’re learning mode, you’ll develop creative new ideas you can apply to your business. Conversations with new people can open opportunities for your business.
3. Review your BD and marketing efforts
Are you getting in front of the right people? When I started doing BD for one of my clients, I received many “We’ve never heard of them before,” especially from local businesses. Fast forward 18 months later, I have introduced them to over 400 businesses nationally and won one of the largest clients in the Pacific.
So, who are the right people, and how do you know where to find them?
Not so fast! Before you consider reaching out to clients that will be important to your business, not just in growing your revenue but strategically important to increasing your visibility, ensure you are positioned as a supplier of choice, consider:
- Why should a potential client choose you over another provider?
- Is your customer journey set up to deliver?
- Would your current clients, employees and colleagues refer new clients to you?
- What establishes your credibility?
- Have you got the right team to drive your growth goals?
- Have you got the resources/budget to look after your team and growing client base?
- Will you invest the time and resources to deliver value and build relationships? Winning new clients takes time and consistency.
Do you have a robust online presence – website and social media? If your initial outreach is successful, potential clients will research you to check who you are. In my experience dealing with busy decision-makers, you have a higher chance of capturing their attention if your website is simple to navigate and it’s easily understood who you are and what you do. It pains me to say I’ve had someone come back to me saying, “You’ve lost me” because one of my client’s websites didn’t clearly articulate their services.
Once you are positioned to win new business, you can then target anchor clients with criteria such as:
- Their needs/can you improve their results?
- Do they spend money on the problems you solve?
- Will they need your service/product now or in future?
- Is their model short-term sales?
- Size of the business
- Decision makers and influencers
- How their brand is perceived
- The health of the organisation
- Pressures in their market
This is why businesses bring me on board to set them up for growth first and then build relationships to bring in anchor clients. With only one opportunity to make an excellent first impression, your positioning must align with your new business strategy. Each anchor client you want to win requires a tailored approach.
4. Reach out to new businesses (when your positioning is solid)
Reaching out to new businesses can be daunting, but it’s also a direct road to growth. Research, people-mapping, personalise, introduce yourself and your business and offer something of value. This could be an article of interest, an idea or an opportunity to collaborate. Sometimes, there may be an overflow of work you can help with, or they may refer you to another business that needs your services.
I reach out to 300 businesses per month for my clients. Getting to the presentation stage can take up to 6 months. Kiwi businesses take a lot longer to build trust and give you work, so building relationships with people and businesses before they need you and building a sustainable pipeline is crucial.
5. Think long-term
Maintain relationships with businesses you’ve reached out to. They might not need you right now however, this could change. You never know. They may be cutting costs and going elsewhere while budgets are tight, or there may be other influencers in the buying cycle. Find out who they are and build relationships. In many cases, they are just as important as the decision maker/s. Share information that is of value to them or projects you’ve completed that align with their needs. Take the opportunity to build the relationship and your reputation as a trusted advisor and problem solver.
6. Be an easy person to deal with
Follow through, do what you say you’re going to do and treat everyone like they’re your best customer. Thank people for their time, keep people in the loop and respond promptly. A significant factor contributing to my success in securing new business isn’t solely from what my clients offer. It largely hinges on the effective communication and respect I consistently deliver. I make potential clients feel heard, valued and confident that their needs will be met. Remembering that we’re dealing with people and emotions is crucial.
7. Make introductions
Introduce people who are aligned with common goals. Connect people who can mutually benefit from the collaboration. You’ll create more opportunities for yourself by building trust and cultivating future referrals.
Stay in contact with your old customers, and show that they are still important even if they don’t use your services any more. You have invested the time and money to build those relationships, and their circumstances may change. I have seen that happen so often that they circle back to you. Always keep the door open and keep the relationship intact. Don’t be a one-hit wonder. You’ll get found out, and your pipeline will dry up.
The more proactive you are, the greater the returns will be. Let me know how you go! If you still need help, this is what I do best, so please get in contact.