Words of wisdom – Supporting business development

Business development and how to go about it is a topic that all companies are faced with, and over the years I have often been asked the question : “ how do I go about growing my business ?”

It is particularly relevant for small and start-up companies who don’t always have the required resources to provide a dedicated business development support function.

Sometimes there is no dedicated resource or just one sales and marketing guy who has to keep any number of balls in the air at the same time including marketing, business development, lead generation, as well as closing deals. They need to generate more new leads so they can go and win more new business, and they need some help. I have been contacted many times by people in such situations looking for an external company to help with marketing and business development support.

I have also often taken calls from Marketing managers, at smaller companies in particular, looking for help in this area. They are usually the only marketing professional at their company and are extremely busy on many fronts, and do not have enough hours in the day to devote solely to business development.

Either way, in my experience it is important to form a partnership with a supplier with a proven track record in business development, who you can trust to manage your business development process. I see four basic steps to help in the process of business growth :

1.    Make a plan

My first recommendation to clients is to put a marketing or business development plan in place –  basically  a roadmap of where you want to get to and what are you going to do to make it happen. The plan should be both time and resource aware, and will identify your target market sectors, potential customers, your product strengths, and how you are going to sell it via defined marketing programmes.

2.    Get some good quality data

Marketing programmes represent a large part of any business development activities, but before any can be run you must have good quality customer and prospect data in place. I’m a great believer that knowledge of your target market and prospect data and good management of that data is key to running focussed and targeted campaigns.

 3.    Run some marketing programmes

Once you have a prospect database operational, you should target that data through a number of direct marketing programmes – which can take many forms including email campaigns, webinars, exhibitions and events. You need to select the most appropriate mix of activities that work for you to ensure that you reach as many of your target market as possible. The objective is to generate new qualified leads and to ensure that the sales pipeline flow is maintained.

4.    Follow up.

All outbound marketing activity should always be followed up with telemarketing and lead qualification. I am often surprised by the number of companies who do not follow up outbound marketing activity with phone calls.               

All these business development support processes are indicative of the types of activities required to properly support business growth. They do not all have to be taken up, and often cannot be due to resource restraints, but these four fundamental stages should always be considered when tackling the issue of business growth.

This 4 step approach is admittedly an attempt to simplify what is potentially a complex issue, but it may provide an initial answer for the next time that anybody asks “how do I go about growing my business?”