Business Development – how do you do it?
We have been recently blogging about the best approaches to client referrals and the general practice of business development.
Whilst sticking to well-known methods can help you plan for successful client and business development campaigns, creating the plan for this to work is also vitally important as is demonstrating the correct competences and behaviours for success.
When is a good time to develop?
Toni Hunter who is a partner at George Hay Chartered Accountants identified the January window where most firms are historically busy as a good time to get new business and targeted established businesses. So why would this be a good time? Because whilst most firms are not developing clients or providing their usual level of service due to the burden of January tax returns, clients maybe in a troubled state which provides an opportunity to take their business. She also knows that converting leads with established businesses has a quicker impact on profitability whereas start-ups may be easier to win, but take a lot of time investment whilst they are establishing their business and compliance needs can be 18 months away.
It is also true to say that whilst this is a good example you should never ignore the fact that you should continuously be looking for opportunities whatever the time of year. Toni Hunter also has the behaviours of an extremely successful business development professional as she networks and uses a sales coach to develop herself continuously in this area, when we asked her what the key changes have been since taking on a sales coach she stated: “My approach to managing leads is now more systemised and contact with decision makers is less ad hoc. I now understand my own behaviour patterns and am learning to implement techniques in a more strategic way. Meetings with prospective clients are better planned and as a result better structured. This has led to a shorter lead time and an improved conversion rate”.
So what is it that makes you want to get more business?
Often phrases such as killer instinct and hungry for success get branded around and may be invalid behaviours as the new economy does not allow much for these breeds to excel! Demonstration of trust, understanding and meeting needs is less about hunting but more about the farming method if we use traditional terms. The business behaviours you demonstrate to the client will either make them warm to your or simply get them disinterested in wanting to do business with you. In the same way the way you would nurture livestock or vegetables, you use the TLC factors!
Rapport building does require good people skills and the ability to spark meaningful conversations that makes sales calls and meetings develop into engaged clients and eventually new business or more from your current clients. This is where networking events can bring those skills to fruition as you maybe be a lonely soul at a breakfast meeting or business event but the need to network will drive you to be more confident and engaging.
Toni’s success as a confident business developer is down to her individual efforts in contributing to networking groups online and offline and using a sales coach. You can contact her at email@example.com or Skype tonimhunter and of course on the myriad of social media channels.
The next blog will look at creating a business development plan and the key elements to consider when trying to get more out of your current clients and develop new ones.
We would like to hear about your experiences in developing current and new business, please feel free to leave your comments below…
Contributed by Toni Hunter, George Hay Chartered Accountants