Business Development (BD) is often misunderstood. Some might say that it’s all about relationships, others will say it’s all about sales and yet others will talk about marketing. They are all right, in a way. BD is the creation of long-term value for a firm, through effective management of customers, markets and relationships.
Understand your customers
Customers pay the bills and should be front and centre of your BD strategy. Invest time and energy into researching and understanding your customers. Who are they, what products or services would add value for them and how can your firm help them to make a purchase decision? In the current environment, your customer research may help you to identify a new gap in the market. For example, your customers may need to buy online. Can you offer a better online experience than your competitors? Do you have a delivery mechanism that ensures that your products or services can be distributed to your customers easily and efficiently? You may find that your customers have turned to online marketplaces such as Amazon to buy everything. Maybe your firm needs to have a storefront on Amazon, in order to make it easier for your customers to buy from you.
Consider your target markets
Your customers are part of a specific market. For example, if they are businesses based in the UK then, from your perspective, they are part of the UK B2B market. Customers based in the USA might be part of your online and international market. Markets are constantly evolving. Customers who may not have purchased online 18 months ago may now be doing so on a daily or weekly basis due to lockdowns.
Perhaps overseas clients will be more receptive to buying from your business as they can no longer purchase products or services in a face to face environment. This shift to online presents new opportunities for businesses. Perhaps you could begin to have sales meetings with clients over Zoom or Skype video? Before March 2019, this would have been an alien concept, whereas today is has almost become the ‘new normal’.
Focus on building relationships
Relationships are the gravity that keep the planets aligned. The best businesses build, manage and leverage relationships that are based on trust and the ability to add value. Your relationship building efforts should focus on maintaining contact with customers, targets, employees, suppliers, referrers and industry bodies. Due to remote working, many of your contacts will be feeling a bit lonely and will be more open to the offer of a catch up call, virtual meeting, etc. You can leverage this as an opportunity to keep your firm front of mind, so that when a potential opportunity arises, your firm will be first on the list to get a call.
An opportunity to innovate
The current trading environment offers many businesses an opportunity to innovate. Customers have changed their buying habits, are more open to change and so now is a good time to rethink your sales process. If you don’t currently have an online product or service offering or a way of interacting with customers remotely, then now is the time to rethink how you engage with your target market.