You started your business because you identified unmet needs or are passionate about your products or services and want to share them with the world. What you may not have considered is how to consistently generate new and repeat sales. With this business development guide, you’ll find answers to four common questions to help you grow your business and sales.
What is business development and why is it essential?
Investopedia defines business development as the ideas, initiatives, and activities that help make your business better. From increasing revenues to building strategic partnerships, business development brings value to your organization, and it is essential because it allows you to achieve sustainable business growth. It’s different from marketing because you’re looking to find new clients and get more value from your current ones. This helps to boost your overall revenue rather than creating brand awareness.
Here, we look at common challenges that may hold you back from optimizing business development and sales, as well as time-tested solutions to help you succeed.
Challenge #1: You don’t have a system in place to build engagement and sales
Solution: Create a simple sales pipeline and apply it consistently
Simply stated, a sales pipeline is a strategy that helps you identify, reach and consistently engage and sell to target customers, who form the basis of your business development strategy. To get started on the first step in this business development guide complete the following:
- Clearly identify your target customers. Think about who needs your products and services most, how your customers benefit from them, and consider what demographic information applies to this audience. This will help you define your business’s customer base.
- Review past sales, email lists, social media contacts, industry colleagues and other contacts. Identify the clients who meet your “target” criteria, these are your most important clients. You’ll craft your outreach and messaging for this segment of your audience.
- Spend time each day researching target customers that you haven’t reached yet — maybe they’re located in different geographic regions or in businesses that could use your products and services but haven’t found you yet. These are high-priority prospects because you already know that they’re a good fit for your business and business development plan.
- Update your customer engagement materials to optimize what you know about your target customers. For example, you can include common problems or challenges and how your products or services solve them. Be sure to update your website, social media and print marketing materials to reflect consistent messaging and branding.
- Plan your marketing around the messaging that appeals most to your target audience. Make sure you and/or your sales and marketing team are using SEO strategies to increase your website traffic. This can be done by including keywords that are most relevant to your business or industry and that your clients are likely to use in their searches.
Challenge #2: You don’t want to be aggressive or pushy about sales
Solution: Show potential customers how you can benefit them
You started your business because you believe that you’re offering something of value, and with consistent attention to your sales pipeline, you’ll build a list of current and potential clients who’ll understand and appreciate this.
Consistently communicate with them by offering information, industry updates and insights into your business that build credibility and trust in your business and brand. Let people know how you can make their work or personal lives better and communicate that with authenticity.
Connect with them in ways that show how you can benefit them and tell them about your competitive advantages. Positive interactions are invaluable and build customer loyalty for the long-term. You’ll find that these interactions will lead to more business opportunities over time.
Challenge #3: Your business isn’t converting browsers to buyers
Solution: Use this opportunity to learn about them and improve your strategies
If you’re not converting high-priority prospects into sales, then the challenge — and the opportunity — becomes finding out why and how to address those issues in your business development process.
Have a system in place to make regular follow-ups with your high-priority prospects as a part of your customer engagement strategy. Let your customers know that you’re always looking for ways to make your business better for them and that you appreciate their feedback. In addition to gaining invaluable information, you’ll likely convert some sales, and even when you don’t, the goodwill that you demonstrate will resonate with customers and support your goals.
Challenge #4: You’re so busy that business development gets back-burnered
Solution: Reprioritize, redirect or eliminate anything that doesn’t build your business
As much as business owners like to think that you’re “always selling,” the truth is, many spend less time on sales and business development than tasks like calculating payroll and stock management — and when you do that, you’re not building your business.
Make a list of all the things you do for your business in a typical week and track how many hours you spend on each. Then, put an asterisk next to those that build your business, like when you’re calling current and potential clients or when you’re implementing your marketing strategy. Next, look at all the tasks that don’t directly contribute to sales. You may be surprised by how much time you spend on them.
As a business owner, you may need to hire staff to take on those tasks or outsource them so that you can focus your time and energy on building your business. Outsourcing is a great way to deepen your bench and build your team, especially if you’re looking to build your sales team or increase your lead generation.
Commit to a specific business development goal every day and make it part of your business planning efforts. It can be as simple as calling three prospects or emailing an update about industry trends. Once you’ve accomplished your daily goal, you can spend time on the rest of your business, including those aspects that fuel your passion.
Get the funding you need to meet business development goals
Business development is one of the most important aspects of a business owner’s work and for many entrepreneurs, it means reallocating time and resources. If you need funding to hire staff or outsource work, upgrade equipment and software, implement marketing plans, improve inventory management or just about anything else to build your business, talk to Pursuit. We have decades of experience helping small businesses grow and we offer access to more than 15 loans that can help you achieve your goals.