Business Development in Today’s Economy

View of Wall Street, Manhattan.
Image via Wikipedia

It’s no secret that budgets have tightened up, businesses are scaling down and that cash is king.

Business development efforts are becoming the lifeline of companies right now, but there are still some simple, strategic best practices to implement that can help you close more business.

There are 4 simple mantras, which I call the 4Cs. They are:

•    Connection
•    Collaboration
•    Clients
•    Criteria

There’s a 5th mantra, but I’ll save it for later.

Connection: It’s exactly what it means. It means finding new and different ways to connect with people and companies that creates awareness of your brand/company as well as driving leads. Connection means reaching out to your current clients who can direct you to other companies that may benefit from your product/service. It also means have a lot of conversations with people in an industry that can lead you to more people. It means being courageous to really put yourself out there. It also means having a refined position or elevator speech that can get someone’s wheels turning on how to help you right away. Offer to buy someone lunch or coffee. People always need to eat, right? Other ways to find new people are through social media (LinkedIn), industry organizations, networking events, your family and friends. Don’t know how to really leverage social media? More on that later.

Collaboration: Who could add a vertical channel to your business? Who could you be aligning yourself with strategically? You offer X to clients, and you know someone that offers Y, so how can you pool your resources and knowledge to win new business? Seek out partners that bring something to the table that you don’t, but have a shared sphere of influence where you can both reap the benefits. Be willing to share as opposed to keeping it all of yourself. 50% of something is better than 100% of nothing.

Clients: For god sakes, know whom you are talking to before you contact them. Research their vertical. Read their website. Google them. Find them on LinkedIn. Read the trades, WSJ, get on to Hoovers. But make sure you do your homework before you have a conversation. Your potential client wants to know you have an understanding of their business. It makes for a productive and intelligent conversation and believe it or not, many people don’t do this simple exercise. Clients want empathy and want to know you understand their challenges. Do the same when you’re networking with someone as well.

Criteria: Before you ever pursue a particular business vertical, establish clear criteria upfront on what would make a good client. I know, right now you’re thinking, jeez, anyone will do. No, they won’t. You still have to grow your business smartly and strategically. You want to have clients that you can bring value to, but they should bring value to fuel your growth. Are they a portfolio/client list builder? Is there a service you don’t get to offer often, but can with this particular client/vertical? Is it a good case study? Will it give you entrée into a new vertical you haven’t pursued, but are well positioned to capture? These are just a few things to look at, but you should determine what the exact criteria should be for your business.

Oh, so, I promised you a 5th mantra…It’s P, for Passion. Be excited, be motivated. You should be driven to pursue this client, business, vertical. It should inspire you. It will actually take you further – to work harder, later, smarter, faster. Clients can smell that. They want to know you’re excited. And during this difficult time, there’s something intangible but yet measurable about Passion.

Questions, comments? Please send them my way.

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