Business development is much more than just about marketing, sales, pitching, online wizardry, mailings, advertising, branding, social media strategies, glossy brochures, discount deals, promotional gimmicks or special events.
Every single thing a business does has a potential impact on how your business performs. Following these 10 business development truths, will help your business to grow and give you an edge over your competitors.
1. Focus your efforts at turning your enquiries into business and not just at generating leads!
What is the point of spending time, money, creative energy and manpower on generating leads and business opportunities, if you don’t convert as many of them as possible into business at the most profitable levels?
Businesses of all sizes rarely just take time out to stop, look at existing methods of dealing with leads and enquiries and challenge their enquiry handling methods.
How much business are you losing each year, that you could win if you got better at lead conversion?
2. Exceed customer expectations
Despite the clichéd mantra of many corporate leaders and executives, “that we strive to exceed customer expectations”, when I have asked people to name three businesses they have dealt with who have done so, very few have been able to come up with three really great examples. Make sure your business would be on your customer’s mental list.
3. Speak to potential customers and clients … and speak to them nicely!
I have regularly been into shops and businesses premises where they want you to buy but where none of the sales staff come to talk to you and where if you ask for help you are treated like a nuisance. It may be a business development cliché but it is so true … ‘people buy people first’!
4. Be open for business when your customers or clients want to buy
How do your opening hours impact on your business? How can you adapt to the buying habits of your customers?
These are serious business development issues. Don’t ignore them. If you are closed when your customers and clients want to buy from you, don’t be surprised if you lose business to your competition, who are open for business.
5. Don’t let your administrative process or technology become more important than doing business
Every business, regardless of its size will have its administrative processes, procedures and systems often driven by technology. That is absolutely fine, indeed it makes sense to do whatever is necessary to streamline the delivery of service. However, where the processing becomes more important than the commercial objectives of the business itself, then there is a problem.
6. There’s no job more important than helping customers part with their cash
One clothes shopper I know was stopped from trying on an item of clothing in a retail chain at 4.30pm, because she was told by a staff member, “I have other jobs to attend to here in the fitting room area before we close”.
Remember, nothing is more important than helping a potential customer to make a purchase.
7. Quality and word of mouth counts for everything
If you want to be successful you have to be absolutely committed to quality. It isn’t enough to pay lip service to it. It has to be of paramount importance. Forget business development activities altogether if you have a lousy product or service.
8. Recruitment is part of business development
It is people who deliver your services and in most cases sell your products. Get the right people and they will get the right business results. Recruit the wrong people for the wrong reasons and it will have a negative impact on the quality of everything you want to achieve.
These ByteStart guides will help you to employ good people and get the best out of your team;
- How to attract and retain the best employees
- 5 ways to motivate your staff without spending a fortune
- The real cost of hiring your first employee
9. Keep in touch with your existing and past customers and clients
Let me ask you a question about your business. When a sale has been made or the service or job done, when are you next in touch with the customer or client? If you have just answered, “we aren’t” or “we don’t know”, then you are literally leaving cash on the table and you must do something about this.
There is a very simple formula to remember. The more often you communicate with your customers and clients, the more business you will get from them, their families and their friends.
10. Master social online media
Let me be absolutely blunt. Regardless of size or sector, if you are not promoting yourself, your business or building relationships, using social online media, such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter or You Tube then you are missing out on potential business and allowing your competition to get an advantage over you.
You will find lots of help and advice to help you master social media in these guides;
- 5 ways to maximise your business with social media
- How to get your customers talking online
- 5 steps to building an online fan base for your business
- How to get started with Twitter
- How to promote and manage your brand on social media
About the author
Ian Cooper is an international business author and speaker based in London. More details, techniques and tools on this topic can be found in his book, The Financial Times Guide To Business Development: How To Win Profitable Customers and Clients, and the blog based on the book.