On January 1st most of us responsible for business development get a familiar feeling. You ask, “Where will the business come from this year?” Of course you know that some people will buy again. But others won’t. So if you don’t find new opportunities each year, you stagnate.
And since people with wildly different styles succeed in sales, it becomes even harder to know what to do. Like parenting, many people get it right and most of them would struggle to tell you how. Ultimately anyone looking for new business hears the old saying, “Control what you can control.”
But what can you control?
“Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.”
– Winston Churchill
Start your business development work by getting the right mindset. It’s the first, and perhaps most important, thing you can control. How do you get the right attitude? Focus on your buyers.
Think about how your product or service helps others. No matter what you sell, it makes someone else’s job easier. Figure out what your clients and prospects care about. Concentrate on that and on them as people. Repeat this exercise regularly to put your clients foremost in your mind all year long.
“If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll end up someplace else.”
– Yogi Berra
The right attitude sets you up for success, yet the right approach gets results. To create your action plan break it down by quarter.
First Quarter – Look Forward
- Set a concrete goal for new business dollars
- Find specific industries and companies to focus on
- Leverage past business and personal relationships
- Determine your key activities and metrics
These points give you the nuts and bolts for your daily activities. You set your destination and create a map for how to get there. Make the daily tasks simple so you don’t avoid them. But give yourself something to do every day. That something will help propel you toward your goal.
Second Quarter – Dive Deeper
- Identify your top companies & buyers
- Learn about long term goals of these buyers
- Ask for introductions to other buyers at these companies
At this point the year is well underway. You’ve done some business with current buyers. Now look for ways to strengthen relationships with them and build new connections with other buyers at those companies. Don’t be afraid to ask who else might benefit from your help.
Third Quarter – Expand the Brand
- Look for speaking opportunities
- Create a blog or some other online presence
- Develop a free report or white paper to share with prospects
You’re working hard with your clients, so now extend your reach. If you haven’t already, make a conscious effort to build a community by establishing yourself as an expert in your field. A community that sees you as an expert will buy much more comfortably – whether it’s this year or next.
Fourth Quarter – Evaluate & Plan
- Analyze & determine your high impact activities
- Determine and refine your niche
- Identify skill & knowledge gaps
While you ideally start planning before the fourth quarter, take the time to look at what you accomplished and what worked during the year. Crunch the numbers. Critically assess what happened and how you can get better. As you move toward the new year, make sure you understand what happened during the previous twelve months so you can be more productive – and effective – next year.
“Well done is better than well said.”
– Benjamin Franklin
You’ll plan and strategize a lot in your quest for new business, but ultimately that’s not the most important thing you do. Every time you make a sale, you also make a promise, whether directly or indirectly, that what you give in return has value.
But in your quest to land a client, you might lose focus on your best opportunity to land more business. You must deliver. In fact, many say you should over-deliver on your promise. Keep that in mind throughout the year. And when you feel the temptation to give less than your best, remember your competition will over-deliver if you give them the chance.
“Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”
– Dr. Seuss
As you already know, business development requires hard work. And there’s no single formula or magic bullet for success. So when you get to the end of your year, celebrate the victories, no matter how small. In the lean years or the beginning stages, the little wins sustain us and give us the energy to keep moving forward.
Good luck finding new business in 2013 and beyond!
All the best,
Sean Romanoff – Exec|Comm Consultant
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