Business Development Strategies That Work

As a manager, one of the foremost concerns to an organization is developing and exploiting business opportunities that are presented to you and your company. In order to grow, you need good knowledge and best management practices and strategies. It comes to down to whether as a business development manager, you are revolutionary or evolutionary. Any strategy that you undertake, no matter how small or insignificant it may seem will revolutionize your company or will evolve it.

Successful business development takes a multi-disciplinary approach in that it involves financial, advertising and legal skills. It is not enough to reduce activities to a simple template that can be applied to all situations faced by real-world enterprises. Being creative in this regard goes a long way in ensuring that any new and unforeseen challenges contribute to sustainable growth of a company rather than its demise.

There are several areas where business development strategies can help your organization to grow and succeed. Development strategies based on a strategic marketing plan for example will address a changing customer base and market dynamics, help one to understand horizontal and vertical target market opportunities and how to develop the right products, services and solutions to meet the target market needs. This plan should not just be an accident. Most successful business owners will tell you that a carefully planned business strategy was involved. A plan can take either a ‘bottom up’ approach or a ‘top down’ approach. A bottom up approach is where the employees make suggestions and the best are passed up the management while the top down approach is where top managers create the business development strategies and implement them down the chain of command. Another approach is the use of collaborative process where managers and employees work together.

In order for a business development strategy to work, you will need to evaluate its weaknesses, strengths, risks and growth potential. If possible, a strategy consultant may be included. Several factors will need to be taken into consideration, depending on the complexities that come with implementation. These include assigning responsibilities, sufficient resources and establishing a chain of command. A timeline will also need to be developed to evaluate if the desired goals are being achieved. Obviously, no one type of business development strategy is going to work for every business. Find out what works for you and your organization and the benefits of sticking to it.

Ad Agency New Business Development Secret – Mystery Shopping

For decades advertising agencies and communications firms have competed for new business in a high stakes race to show prospective clients how they can help them improve their business. The process usually involves review of credentials as well as demonstration of initial business ideas and thinking. Sounds exciting? Not really.

So, how does an ad agency get up to speed on a prospective client’s business enough to show them smart and relevant thinking?

Well, the internet has had a huge hand in helping agency management find information on a specific company as well as their industry – and often their key competitors. And many, if not all advertising agencies are using that approach in varying degrees. But that still leaves the burning question: “what are the decision makers and influencers experiencing throughout the sales process AND how can we control that in our favor?”

Traditionally, that is where agency quantitative (statistically sound surveying through the mail, phone or internet) as well as qualitative (more intimate, one-to-one communications usually through methods like focus groups) research is used to provide the foundation for strategic recommendations that will hopefully knock the socks off of their prospect and win the account.

Innovative advertising agencies are finding alternative ways to access this important insight which they previously obtained from those costly, time-consuming research approaches. These innovative ad agencies are developing their ideas and recommendations for the “review” or “pitch” by using an old mainstay from the restaurant industry – Mystery Shopping.

Mystery Shopping: An Innovative Business Development Tool

Mystery shopping has been used extensively in the hospitality sector to manage and improve customer service performance – as a way of more effectively managing the customer engagement from the first call to the check. This helps companies identify areas needing sales process improvement. Used in a slightly different context, it becomes a cost and time-effective goldmine of insight to perfect a business development pitch.

Mystery Shopping Process:

– Mystery shoppers, who represent the targeted customer profile, visit a specific site, experience all aspects of the sales process and fill out a customized online survey which is compiled with other shopper’s data from the company’s geography.

– The mystery shoppers are also trained to obtain any collateral or relevant materials, as well as take photos, and mail it back to the ad agency, giving the agency the ability to see, touch and feel tangible aspects of the experience and potentially use this information in their pitch.

– Using this approach has other advantages, too. Mystery shopping firms have large pools of trained researchers who can rapidly deliver on fast turn-around projects over broad geographic areas, including global reach.

– These surveys are tracked and trended against each location, for regional differences, and even against national averages. The data can then be used to direct recommendations, or support new ideas.

– In some cases mystery shoppers are only shopping competitive locations to provide information that will translate to opportunities for improvement and differentiation.

Instead of leaving behind somewhat dry research, advertising agencies are now immediately able to add interest and dimension to their pitch that sticks. Eliminating the problems inherent in focus group research such as one individual dominating a group’s input. What are some of the additional nuggets of information that ad agencies glean from their mystery shopping results?

1. Identifying Strategic Opportunities

2. Testing Brand Positioning

3. Discovering Triggers for Promotional Planning

4. Uncovering Valuable Competitive Intelligence

Savvy advertising agencies are even using mystery shopping as a form of insurance for promotional program executions. Mystery shopping is put in place when a promotion is rolled out to monitor and manage the operational aspects; ensuring that from signage placement to sales conversations everything is supporting the promotional message.

Mystery shopping is also helping both advertising agencies and their clients manage the multiple “Touchpoints” necessary to ensure a successful sales process improvement and customer relationship building. For the business it translates to sales and profit – reducing the expense to both acquire a new customer and to keep a customer engaged and loyal.

For ad agencies it provides the critical data on a prospective client that they need to show them relevant recommendations, sell themselves to, build a relationship and create loyalty. And, it provides it in a way that lends color and interest to the pitch – it excites, it is valued, and it sticks. The opportunity for strong, relevant insight exists in this simple, tried and true research process: mystery shopping. No wonder more ad agencies are using it!

A Glimpse Over a Business Development Manager’s Job

Every businessman starts his business with an aim to grow in terms of annual sales. However, starting up a business seems easier, but making it a big one is not everyone’s cup of tea. It needs great efforts and hard work to get your business on the heights of success. According to a research, it has been observed that only one-tenth of 1 percent of companies will ever reach $250 million in annual revenue.

In order to develop a business, you need to make a growth strategy that must cover market perception, market growth, product development, alternative channels, new products, etc. Here, comes the need for a business development manager. He is the most important part of an organization, who needs to work with the marketing people, internal team and other seniors to develop the strategies for enhancing the sales opportunities, thus, increasing the profits. Let’s have a glance over the job of a business development manager:

Role of a business development manager

Well, the role of the concerned person can be categorized as follows:

• Outlook for new clients: It is perhaps the primary role of a business development manager to search for new clients. This can be done through various ways including cold calling, networking, advertising and more.

• Planning influential approaches: The next important thing is planning a proper influential approach that can encourage the prospective clients to do business with the company.

• Developing a bond: Developing a good relationship with new customers is really necessary if you want to develop your business. This can be done by setting targets and proving the required support to the customers for improving the bond.

• Grow and retain existing accounts: Developing a good relationship with new customers is not just enough. What more require is growing and maintaining the existing accounts. In order to retain the current customers the manager should be ready with new solutions and services that he/she can present to the customers as and when required.

Above are some of the primary roles of a business development manager. Apart from this, he/she is responsible for making a strategic planning for developing a new business coming in to the company. For this, the person must possess a sound knowledge of the current market condition, services that company can provide and most importantly who are the company’s rivals.

Qualifications and skills required for the business development manager

• Educational qualification: As the job of a business development manager is quite challenging, he needs to have certain skills that can assist him in facing all the hurdles. As per the reports of online job placements on Monster.com and PayScale.com, the educational qualification required for Business Development Manager Jobs is first of all a bachelor’s degree in business administration or any other related field. Having a good experience in sales or marketing will be added advantage. Though, some companies may prefer the candidates who hold a master’s degree in this field.

• Key skills: As far as skills are concerned, the person should be highly motivated, problem solver and must have prospecting skills, territory management, market knowledge, presentation skills, closing skills, professionalism, etc.

Significant result areas of business development manager

To achieve the desired results, it is very essential to be crystal clear about everything so that the concerned person will be able to focus on the results. Generally, the key result area should be:

• Clear, precise and measurable: A clear, precise and measurable key area will help in defining the exact results that have been achieved and how well they are achieved.

• Under the control of business development manager: The key result area should be under the control of the concerned person. When he/she does it in a right way, it will contribute towards a major value to a business and to the career of the responsible person.

• A vital activity of the business: A key result area is unquestionably the important output that will turn out to be an input to the next result area.

All the above information will surely help you to get an idea about the job of a business development manager.

How to Grow Your Business Development Capability

When you are a small business or a brand new department in a larger company, you might start as one person who is responsible for winning government contracts. This is not a problem-you can join the ranks of many who have started at one point or another and are still the only one writing proposals, even as their company has grown to a nice size and they have the capital to afford professionals. We once met the CEO of a 1,200-person business who still was the company’s best proposal writer-he had a 99 percent win rate. (He’d lock himself in a hotel room for a week at a time with a few six packs.) It was possible because the company was focused on a single set of offerings and wrote for the same set of customers.

Many companies reach a point at which they have to start maturing and growing their business development, capture, and proposal capability. It usually happens when they have a constant volume of bids and they are looking for a more efficient way to develop proposals and win consistently. They want to scale up, grow aggressively, and create a true business development engine.

If you are a small company or a small department within a large company, the next phase of the business development team, beyond just you, could consist of one or two people, with technical personnel roped in as needed for subject matter expertise. This formula works when this team has to go after a handful of bids a year, but as you start growing aggressively and you need to crank out four, five, or ten proposals a month, you have to figure out how to scale intelligently.

Your goal is to add the right staff at the right time – be they internal resources or external.

Internal-resources hiring has to be timed to make business sense. First, you have to determine your current and desired proposal volume per month, and staff your organization at 75 percent of the expected throughput. If your proposal volume is lower than one proposal per month, it’s smarter to use consultants for larger bids, and write smaller bids in-house, burning the midnight oil.

When you go after proposals that you must win, hire real consulting professionals. The temptation is to go cheaper on the hourly rate, but if you are just starting to build your capability, you need experts-even if you bring them in just to outline your proposal, and review it mid-process. If you are obsessed with the hourly rate, you may save money on the wages, but may lose even more money and time if you don’t win, or have to rewrite what they have done. Proposal consultants will run you on average $150/hour-some will charge more and some a little less.

After you bring in your internal Business Development manager to find opportunities, and hire a Capture Manager, you may need to bring in an internal proposal manager.

Your next set of hires will likely include a writer and an all-in-one desktop publisher/technical editor/graphic artist. Your technical writer will write and edit proposal sections, while working closely with the SMEs. Your jack-of-all-trades person will serve three roles at once:

Professional graphic artist to transform your graphic concepts into professional-looking, attractive graphics
Editor to ensure your proposals are error-free and polished
Desktop publisher to format your documents for professional appearance
You will need to involve your SMEs in the proposal process as much as possible after you train them in proposal writing. This way, you will be able to cut down on the amount of work you have to do personally as the designated business developer – and reduce your resource costs.

As you grow larger, you may bring in a Price Strategist; a Pricer; a professional Contracts Manager to help you navigate the intricacies of the FAR and other customer requirements and lead your customer negotiations; a Procurement Manager to help you negotiate and manage teaming arrangements and subcontracting agreements; and even a PTW expert to make your bids more competitive from the price standpoint.

Successful companies are careful in adding all these overhead positions, and they don’t try to do everything in-house. They perform careful financial analysis taking all costs into consideration, and use a mix of internal staff and consultants. They bring in external resources for:

Surges
Special expertise
New ideas
Staff mentoring

You will need to carefully track your staff’s performance and efficiency. You will need to decide how efficient and effective they are in their win rates and throughput, and either develop or replace them. Develop a relationship with a trusted consulting firm such as OST, and have the resources on tap when and where you need them.