How To Create An Effective Business Development Strategy

The Business Development Strategy is used to underpin your main Business Plan and essentially it sets out a standard approach for developing new opportunities, either from within existing accounts or by proactively targeting brand new potential accounts and then working to close them.

This document highlights the key issues you should consider prior to compiling your own plan and will hopefully guide you logically through a proven framework.

The key word is ‘Strategy’, because you are creating a workable and achievable set of objectives in order to exceed your annual target.

Your Starting Point:

The key words are Who? What? Where? When? Which? Why? How?

For example:

Who – are you going to target?

What – do you want to sell them?

Where – are they located?

When – will you approach them?

Which – are the appropriate target personnel?

Why – would they want to meet with you?

How – will you reach them?

If you have conducted regular account reviews with your key accounts during the previous twelve months, you should be aware of any new opportunities that will surface during the next twelve months. You will also, when assessing what percentage of your annual target usually comes from existing accounts, need to review data over the last two or three years. (It is likely that you can apply Pareto i.e. 80% of your business will probably come from existing accounts and in fact 80% of your total revenue will come from just 20% of your customers/clients)

You will be left with a balance – i.e. “20% of my business next year will come from new opportunities” – therefore you can then begin to allocate your selling time accordingly.

Ideal Customer Profiling:

Pro-active business development demands that we create an ideal target at the front end – i.e. an “Ideal Customer Profile.” The essential characteristics you will need to consider are:

– Industrial Sector

– Geographical Location (Demographics)

– Size of organizations (Turnover, number of employees etc)

– Financial Trends

– Psychographics – i.e. Philosophical compatibility

Many strategic sales professionals merely profile their best existing clients and try to replicate them – there’s nothing wrong with doing this but we should always remember that we are seeking an IDEAL and we can always improve on what we already have.

‘New’ Opportunities From Within ‘Old’ Accounts:

Because it costs approximately ten times as much, to first locate and then sell to a new customer as it does an existing one (although these costs are rarely reflected in the cost of sales), it is essential that we fully develop our existing accounts working upwards, downwards and sideways, thus making the most of the (hopefully) excellent reputation we have developed already.

Most corporate accounts have several divisions, departments, sites, even country offices and you must satisfy yourself that you have exhausted every possible avenue. Don’t be afraid to ask the question “Who else should I be talking to in your organization”?

This is an extract from my FREE eBook – “How to Construct an Effective Business Development Strategy” which is available for download – please see details below.

Copyright © 2012 Jonathan Farrington. All rights reserved

How Is FedBizOpps Useful in Business Development?

Anyone in the know in business development doesn’t get too excited if they happen to see something that looks exactly like what they are trying to bid on when searching FedBizOpps.gov (FBO). The Federal Government is supposed to post all unclassified opportunities over $25,000 on FBO. It is safe to say, however, that FBO is pretty much useless to you for bidding purposes because most of the opportunities that appear there have been discovered already by your competitors.

Your competitors may have been planning for these opportunities for a while, throughout the entire acquisition process from when the opportunity was created to the point of its culmination in a Request for Proposal (RFP) or Quote (RFQ). Rarely do you stand a chance of winning if you pick an opportunity off a website as public and popular as FBO late in the game, once a draft RFP, and especially the final RFP, has been issued. It has probably been “spoken for” or “wired” by some company that has taken its time to prepare.

Why would FBO be useful in business development, then?

It is actually useful for many purposes. Let’s take market research, for example, that every business developer should do periodically to figure out how the market is behaving, and if the company needs to adjust its course. You could use FBO to figure out which agencies buy what you sell. For example, you could search for “marketing communications.” Remember to use quotation marks if you use multiple keywords. See what contracts show up in the results. Make note of the contract titles and numbers that look especially interesting.

You will also see what companies are winning these contracts, and what companies may be issued sole source awards. Make a note of them, because these are your potential competitors or teammates. Look at the details about the contracts’ scope to zoom into the kinds of work you might be interested in bidding on.

FBO is a perfect place to learn about upcoming opportunities for educational and planning purposes and figure out what types of opportunities exist for a company like yours, and what are their key characteristics. You may not be using FBO for something to bid on, but the information on the solicitations is representative of the patterns of your potential customer agencies. You can see who buys what, how they do it, and how much and how frequently they buy.

Of course, you may indeed find some good opportunities in the early stages of procurement that don’t yet require proposals. All is not lost when the government issues a Request for Information, announces “Sources Sought,” or notifies of a “Presolicitation.” You may still have a fair shot at the opportunity if you start preparing right away.

On FBO, you can see what companies are registered to receive notifications about the RFPs and amendments. This will help you with your competitive analysis and teaming strategies. Some contracting officers may even require that your company register on FBO.

You may also use FBO for marketing yourself as an interested vendor to the government and partners.

Another great use of FBO is to find information about vendor outreach events, with its “Search Small Business Events” and “Vendor Collaboration” buttons.

As you can see, FBO has many uses – but all of them should be appropriate to your goals.

Business Development Steps and Strategies

Business development requires a multi-disciplinary approach and there is no ‘one size fits all’ strategy.

Below are some of the ways available to help ensure business development:

o Identify – Before you can seriously plan for business development it is necessary to identify new business opportunities.

o Plan – Once new business opportunities have been identified you will need to decide how you can best reach those new customers and markets. If your in-house resources are already stretched, you may need to look for help elsewhere. The same applies if you find the capacity or skills for business development do not already exist within your business. Outsourcing is not always as expensive as you think and could work out more cost effective over the time needed.

o Develop – What innovative marketing plans can you develop to raise your business profile among your existing customers and new markets? You may wish to consider things that you haven’t tried before. It is important that everything you plan to do can be tested on a small scale first and that you build in the opportunity to fine tune your efforts.

o Implement – If your business is not at the stage to appoint a full time marketing director, at least hire an experienced business development professional to work with your company for a few days a month.

Commitment is the key to business development. If you want to see results you must persevere. If your attempts are sporadic or you give up, you will waste the time, money and effort that have already been invested into your business development programme. Be consistent.