Business development can be one of the fastest ways to grow your business. It can also be one of the most time intensive. It typically requires focus, planning, stamina, and doggedness. Doing it right may pay big dividends; doing it wrong can be demoralizing.
Here are a few tips for effective business development that can help you hit the ground running.
Know Your Competition
It may not be enough to know the names of your competitors. Evaluate what they offer so you can help differentiate yourself from the pack. As the old adage goes, don’t define yourself by your competition. Analyze what makes you stand out in a crowd. You should obsessively work on this differentiation. This may be your most powerful business development tool.
Add Value and Build Trust
Rather than going after people’s wallets, consider going after their hearts. Business growth can come from adding value to every relationship, with prospective customers and existing customers. We can add value by providing information and knowledge, by being an advisor, by obsessing over treating customers right, both before and after the sale, and by having a reputation for great execution and white glove service.
This mindset and approach build trust and goodwill which are your calling card for business development. But building trust takes time.
“People don’t believe what you tell them. They rarely believe what you show them … They always believe what they tell themselves.” It’s your public persona and your actions over time that will likely influence what people tell themselves about you.
Ask for the Business
After you’ve met with your prospect, submitted the proposal, done all the due diligence and followed up, consider closing that phase by unabashedly asking for the business. Try a simple: “I would very much like to provide this service for your company. What will it take to get started?” This “let’s do business together” approach is direct and honest, and can signal your confidence in the value of your service or product. It’s refreshing. What’s more, it can give your prospective client the opportunity to decline. It may be better to know this so you can refocus your energy and attention on the next potential customer.
Beat Your Competitors to the Punch
Your website in the bedrock foundation of your business development process.
Consider this scenario – you meet a prospect who fits your ideal target market criteria at a networking event. You have a great conversation and agree to meet the following week to discuss a potential project that you can help with.
What do you think this prospect will do when he’s back at his office? There’s a good chance that the first thing he will do is check out your website to get a better feel for your business. If you have an outdated website like many professional services firms (or even worse, no website!), that great opportunity will quickly turn into a long shot.
For SMB companies, your website is an opportunity to show potential buyers your expertise and professionalism. More importantly, it’s an opportunity to separate your firm from those who aren’t investing in a modern website.
As a rule of thumb, if you haven’t redesigned your website in the last three years, you’re probably due for an overhaul. Even if you have recently redesigned your site, it’s worth looking at ways that you can improve user experience and lead generation.
You should always be aware of your site’s technical performance, particularly page load speed. Generally, if your pages aren’t loading in 3 seconds or less, users are bouncing to someone else’s site.
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