1. The proper mindset
Effective business development has as much to do with a mindset than it does any specific tactic. Essentially, if you view it as a one-time, single event, the likelihood of being successful and meeting your goals is slim. Effective business development and demand generation is achieved when embraced as an ongoing program or business process as part of an integrated direct marketing program. Most of us have effective business process tools in place to run our businesses, but ignore the fundamental (and probably most important) act of driving new business.
Regardless of your message or value proposition or all the great things you do, if you tell someone once and expect them to take action, you’re mistaken. On average, it takes 9 “touches” for a prospect to respond in some way. And that response may be something very small—like simply opening an email, or visiting a microsite, purl or website. Once a prospect officially becomes an inquiry, the formal nurture process can begin.
You probably guessed this one would be next. If you have to touch a prospect nine times in order to elicit a response and that basic response, while valuable, is far from a commitment to work together, it doesn’t take a PhD to conclude that the business development process takes time. How long? Well, depending on your industry and product/service, anywhere from 6-24 months. Typically, around 12 months.
4. Build a formal plan
Just like the need for a business plan, and a marketing plan, a formal business development plan is just as critical. The intent is to be very focused, specific and clear regarding the way new business is to be generated—philosophically, strategically and tactically (actual lead generation methods such as direct mail). Who’s responsible, accountable and to what degree will it be measurable. It must also establish key performance indicators (KPI’s) and include protocol for how and when progress is reported.
5. Publish a goal
One that all the necessary players in marketing and sales support, agree to and commit to. Clearly stated, consistently reminded and constantly referenced. Always keeping the goal top-of-mind ensures that all decisions made relative to the process are in line with achieving that goal. Obviously, the expectation is to hit that goal. But regardless of whether that happens or not, it is the adoption of all these tips that creates structure around the process and helps turn assumptions into accomplishment!