Business Development is Not a Four-Letter Word

July 10, 2013

If generating business isn’t your favorite part of small business ownership, take heart.  These four concepts, integrated into your operations and marketing plan, will make sales much easier – for you and your staff.

Many start-up businesses dread business development and engage in it as infrequently as necessary.  They devote their time to delivering excellent work or selling dynamite products, then panic when cash flow starts to dry up.  The problem with this approach is that a steady client base is the life force of business; cash flow, growth, and revenue all depend on it. The good news is that if you consistently practice sound market research and customer communication tactics your business development will largely take care of itself.  Make the following four tenants a core part of your operations, and don’t be surprised if business development seems to get easier.

Know what you’re selling You know what you sell, obviously.  And hopefully, you have a sales strategy in place.   But do you know why your customers buy from you, specifically?  There are reasons people choose you over others.  If you can identify them you can promote them and gain more loyal clients.  All you have to do is ask! Know your target markets Just as you need to know how customers perceive you, you have to figure out who your customers really are.  You likely have several client groups; address each consistently but separately, as each has its own value.  Knowing who your clients are also makes it easier to craft marketing messages that resonate. Focus on helping others Move the focus of client interactions from making a sale to making a difference.  You’re in business because you help people – by preparing their taxes or making their daily coffee, for example.  Focus on helping clients, which will keep them coming back and referring you to others. Train your staff All of your staff is in business development, whether they know it or not, and whether you want them to be or not.  So it makes sense to raise their business development skills via training.  It doesn’t have to be fancy, but it should include identifying opportunities, qualifying potential business opportunities, and helping customers through the buying process.  And in order to be effective it must be regular and ongoing.