Do you have an annualized business development plan?
If not, please read on… because having such a plan can make the difference between success and failure, or possibly between a good year and a great one!
First let’s define the terms. An annualized plan is simply a schedule of which activities will be done and at what time. Plotting this information by month allows you to take advantage of any seasonal opportunities, and also to determine overall time and cost commitments. Business development is a multi-faceted practice that keeps your business moving ahead. It consists of various components, including:
- Promoting your organization to develop a presence in your marketplace
- Identifying new business opportunities with known and unknown prospects
- Generating new business from referral sources and prospects
- Generating new or incremental business from clients
- Business retention
A close review of this list reveals three very important facts.
First is the fact that our customers and clients are also prospects for new or incremental business.
Second, there is a big difference between “identifying” business opportunities and “generating” them. While the former might, at times, be easier to accomplish, both activities are essential. Successful business development, therefore, requires a combination of marketing and selling skills. Other requirements include time management, organizational skills and a positive attitude.
The third key fact, simply stated, is “one easy way to get business is to not lose business!” Customer retention is an important element of every business development plan, because any lost business must be made-up if we are to achieve our overall goal.
Simple 5-Step Approach
Here’s a simple and proven approach that might help you to make the most of your business development effort this year:
- Identify an annual total revenue goal that encompasses desired growth. Your business development effort is the means by which this growth will be achieved – it’s best to break it down into dollars as well as the approximate number of new customers required.
- Identify an annual budget – note that you don’t have to spend a lot. You can plan to make the biggest impact via word-of-mouth, much of which comes from networking, selling and asking for referrals.
- Identify the components of your plan based on the budget and goals – these might consist of:
- Advertising or sponsorship
- Social Media
- E-marketing (e-mail campaigns, web-site optimization, etc)
- Telemarketing (not cold-calls, but strategic follow-up to networking encounters, mail, email, etc.)
- Entertaining (lunch meetings, client events, etc.)
- Business development meetings/selling appointments
- Business retention
- Create a annualized plan [get sample template: free download]
- Work the plan; measure progress and achievement for ongoing improvement
Planning and persistence are the critical elements of success –
The plan must be well-organized, and your approach to implementing the plan equally well-organized and persistent. The plan won’t work if you quit or if you only execute a portion of it. As John Wanamaker once said, “Half the money I spend on advertising is a waste. The problem is I don’t know which half!”
It is also true that developing new business requires the development of new business relationships. This is a process rather than a one-time-event, and it takes time – some experts have even identified the “rule of seven,” which states you will, on average, need to interact with a prospect seven times before getting serious consideration; others say it happens between the fifth and twelfth contact. Whatever the actual number might be, only those who persistently maintain their effort will achieve optimum success.
The final consideration involves the regular measurement of achievement and ongoing improvement. Each “contact” must be planned and, based on your success or failure, these plans must be evaluated and continually enhanced. Each contact must be value-added and fresh – so there’s plenty of work ahead. But it will be worth it when you tally the numbers at the end of the year!