Business development is essential for every business whether it be Kellogg’s or Ken’s Fruit shop. But where do you start if you want lead generation for your small business? Below are our 20 business development tips to get you more business. These are tips for every business owner to implement.
1. Define growth targets annually and review them monthly. If you don’t know what your goal is, it’s very hard to hit it. So make sure you set new business goals that are clear and achievable but stretching. Then work on your strategy to deliver against those objectives.
2. Look at each of your market segments. Are they likely to grow or contract? Is there some new government initiative or regulation that impacts positively or negatively on your service provision? Are some sectors harder to penetrate than others with the resources and market position you currently have? Customer Research is key.
3. Understand why customers buy from you. If you clearly understand that, you will be closer to understanding how to pitch your business to new customers both when face to face and online.
4. Work out where your customers go for information. That may be online or offline. Then make a plan to be visible where they hang out.
5. Know the cost of marketing to reach your target market. If you don’t know how much the various routes to market cost, how will you know how to evaluate the viability of each option against your budget and objectives?
6. What can you do yourself and what needs specialist skills? There’s an opportunity cost to DIY especially if you don’t have the time, resources, skills or knowledge. So, decide what can be done in house and what essential tasks need outsourcing.
7. Make a plan. Even small businesses need to understand and plot out the main tasks they need to undertake to generate new business.
8. Work out the ROI for each method of marketing, product area and each market sector. For example, if your value of sale is low for a particular product or service into a particular sector, you may need to use email marketing or even advertising to reach a large audience quickly at a low cost per contact. If the value of sale is high, the personal touch (e.g. exhibitions, telemarketing) is almost definitely needed and cost of sale will rise but that’s set against a strong ROI that may justify the spend.
9. Get expert advice where necessary. No business manager knows everything so take advantage of any support you can get. That could be by reading and implementing actions from blogs like these or using a sales and marketing expert for your strategy or implementation or government support such as GrowthAccelerator.
10. Become known as an expert and a go to person in your field. This relates to information around your area of expertise. There are over 100 articles, tips, podcasts and blogs on this site. We get large traffic numbers from people wanting knowledge. This in turn pushes up Google rankings and from that we gain new business enquiries.
11. Participate in conversations around your specialist area. There are lots of these on LinkedIn Twitter and in forums. Be visible and become known as someone that contributes. Manage your time wisely and select discussions that showcase your skills to people that might want or recommend your services.
12. Work on your website. Many sites were designed several years ago. Technology and tastes have changed and the advent of social media has changed the way we consume information online. Is your website now fit for purpose or does it look like a tired brochure based site that simply provides basic info on your services?
13. Get on the social media train before it’s too late. Social media is a fundamental change to how we communicate both socially and in business. Younger managers have arrived in the workplace and they expect to engage on different platforms not just by email and on your website. You need to play in this arena or you will disappear from both search and potential supplier short lists.
14. Be a consultant not a salesman. No buyer likes to be sold to. Old fashioned selling techniques have long gone. Nowadays, especially at a higher value of sale, you must be prepared to give good advice even if it means no sale at that time. Goodwill and recommendation has more long term value than short term sales gain when that sale may not be the right solution for the client.
15. Do something related to new business every day. Make sure that your colleagues also focus on the new business effort. It can be as simple as a call to a prospect or writing a blog or sending an email. But make it a discipline that new business is a daily task.
16. Think content not advertising. Content is what attracts customers to your website, keeps them engaged in your newsletters and it’s what encourages them to follow you, share your information, recommend you and favourite stuff that you produce. So, concentrate less on broadcast sales ‘push’ messages and more on engaging knowledge transfer.
17. Share that knowledge. Content is great but you can’t rely on people simply finding your website. Buyers increasingly consult their networks and find relevant content through social media. That means you need to share your information through Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and other social platforms. Google + and YouTube are particularly important in a b2b context since both are increasingly found in search results.
18. Build your network. That means both offline and online. People cannot buy your services or recommend you if you aren’t there. That means scheduling time for attending networking events and also for participating in relevant conversations on forums online using LinkedIn and so on. Social influence is increasingly important so start to build your network.
18. Keep up to date. The pace of change, especially online, is huge. Whilst you most certainly cannot chase every new thing that comes out, you need to ensure you keep up to speed with developments and ideally keep ahead of the competition. Maybe that means recording a Google Hangout or a simple video or even a podcast. These do not have to be inexpensive and are not hugely time consuming. What they do however, is make you credible and visible and support SEO.
19. Find out who gets to your customers before you. One might call these influencers in an online sense and they might develop into possible strategic alliances. The point is that these are the people to use for knowledge and to engage with in order to reach out to your customers. It’s about mutual interest and partnerships can be valuable for both sides.
20. Remember it’s a long game not a short dash. As I mentioned before, new business development is a daily task and it doesn’t happen overnight. You have to focus on it. Not to the detriment of your day job, unless it is your day job of course, but it is about looking ahead and ensuring that you have a steady pipeline of leads coming through from different channels.
The above tips aren’t exhaustive. However, no organisation can ignore their importance and, if you follow these 20 business development tips to get you more business, you will be much closer to delivering against your sales objectives in the coming year.
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Already doing telemarketing yourself but not getting the results you need? GSA can also provide telemarketing training for your existing staff, bringing them new skills, telemarketing tips, know-how or just a different approach. Also, check out our essential guide to telemarketing success.