The Key Business Development Activity

A Process… Not a One-time Event

Business development is a process rather than a one-time event. It requires a long-term perspective and the key activity for achieving success is follow-up… staying in regular contact with prospects and referral sources in a value-added way.

Most people fail to follow-up with a value-added purpose or with sufficient frequency.

Frequency guidelines:
If we move too slowly, we run the risk of losing mind share with referral sources and losing prospect opportunities to competitors or shifting priorities. If we are too aggressive, we run the risk of alienating our audience.

Research from the National Association of Sales Executives indicates that, on average, it requires 5-12 touches (i.e., phone conversations, voice mail messages, emails, meetings, etc.) to make something happen with a prospect. This may or not be a sale, as in many cases it might require that many attempts to simply schedule a meeting or presentation.

To maintain mind share with referral sources three meaningful interactions per year are typically sufficient, along with intermittent phone and email interaction.

The best way to maintain desired contact frequency with prospects or referral sources is to schedule next steps at the end of each conversation or meeting. Generally, contact frequency only becomes over-done when we have nothing of value to say or share. Each contact must be value-added.

I’m calling because…
“Checking-in” or “touching-base” are not value-added reasons for reaching out. Here are ten “value-added” reasons to reach out to a referral source:

  • To give a referral
  • To provide status on a referral you received
  • To recognize or congratulate them on some type of achievement (i.e., they received an award, they were in the news, etc.)
  • To schedule a meeting, coffee, or lunch
  • To invite them to an event or social gathering/activity
  • To schedule a seminar/webinar for their staff or clients
  • To share information related to your expertise that could impact them or their clients
  • To ask them a question about their area of expertise
  • To share relevant information about an area of interest
  • Sympathy

Other than seeking a commitment or an order, here are five “value-added” reason to reach out to a prospect:

  • To make a personal introduction
  • To schedule a meeting based on assessed or likely need
  • To present relevant information about an expressed, assessed or likely need
  • To present pricing for an expressed or assessed need
  • To discuss changes or updates to a previously presented proposal