Business Development 101

In my 25 years of being in and around sales, marketing and advertising, it surprises me how many small business owners don’t have someone working on business development. Many owners and managers I’ve met should be the “biz dev” person but just don’t have the desire or truly understand what to do. I think this comes back to a few things, fear of sales, pride, and/or social interaction. In other words they look at themselves as the President of their small business and are unwilling to go out and pound the pavement for a few hours every week. Some even use the excuse of being tooo busy, but constantly whine about how bad business is.

Many a sales person I come across is caught up in chasing after the next sale, wasting so much time during the day instead of constantly developing and cultivating a large pipeline of prospects. I see them reading the paper, surfing the internet or standing around yackin’ about the weather and recession. These actions show laziness, lack of focus, and desire or unwillingness to venture out. In other words they aren’t hungry enough. If you work around people like this, I would recommend that you step away from the pack and make a positive change.

Whether your business is online or offline, business development should be an integral part of your sales and marketing plans.

What can you do to enhance your business development skills? Consider implementing these 6 steps:

  1. Learn the art of cultivating relationships. Read books, listen to MP3’s and then take what you learn to polish your people skills. Develop and use personal relationship marketing to better your relationships.
  2. Get involved in the industry, not just the companies you are looking to engage with. If you are tuned in, the opportunities might come your way. If you’re tuned out, then they’ll pass you by.
  3. When an opportunity comes your way, take action immediately. Communicate. Pick up the phone, send an email, and get the process moving in a positive direction.
  4. Learn and engage in different kinds of online social media. It’s great for networking, market research and keeping a pulse on what’s happening in your industry. But make sure to test what you do and don’t get too caught up in socializing.
  5. Plan the work and work the business development plan on a weekly basis. This way you stay consistent and persistent all year long. To many people give up or don’t stay at it long enough to get traction.
  6. Find a mentor to guide and counsel you. This last step is crucial and I believe will truly make a difference if you’ll find someone who is willing to help you in your endeavors. It might take a month or even up to a year to find the right person and/or persons.

The bottom line with business development is that it starts with you. So start where you are, make a plan, take action, and stay focused on a daily and weekly basis.