by Victoria Hoshal – d.trio’s director of business development
Best practices for new business development hold true across multiple industries – whether you are a marketing agency selling your services or medical device company selling in the B2B space.
I found a good overview on today’s challenging new business environment: http://www.brainrider.com/better-b2b-marketing/business-development-best-practice/
Although focused on the agency world, another article with great thinking is: http://migroup.com/news_&_media/mercer_newbiz.pdf
I liked the tactical and organized approach to organic growth via existing clients and customers, as well as the idea of going after the customers/accounts you really want.
Here are some additional tips, based on my experience selling marketing agency services and before that, starting and running a small business.
When you are thinking about your organization’s new business opportunities:
- Balance holistic thinking with focused tactics. For example, the ability to assess (holistically) your universe of potential sales is necessary to any new business development. However, within that view, focus on your best targets. Better to have 5 highly-vetted, “good fit” targets than 20 “maybes.” As per the Mercer Group article, find and pursue the customers YOU REALLY WANT.
- Sell to your strengths – the best way to win a new customer is to show them where you truly outshine your competitors in either expertise or product.
- This is also a way to filter customers that may not fit with your services. If it seems too much of a stretch, it probably is. Your time and reputation are important – don’t waste them.
- Don’t ignore your current or past customers. Current customers can be a great source of referrals. Plan on visiting with them at least once a year for a “catch-up.” Thank them for their business and ask for more. Ask them for referrals to other divisions or colleagues and other companies.
- Plan a similar meeting with former customers. Recapturing a lapsed customer is typically MUCH faster and more productive of your time than acquiring a new client.
- Interview your sales team for consistency of key messages and pitch points. It’s important for everyone to start with the same brand story, regardless of needed versioning. You might be surprised at what you learn.
When pitching a prospective customer:
- Say “thank you for your time” at the beginning of the meeting. Manners are important AND appreciated.
- Remember it’s all about the customer. Consider their business, their needs, tailor your approach accordingly. This means paying attention to how much you talk about your company/your team, etc…..You’ll need to balance your sales pitch accordingly.
- Conduct your due diligence and research ahead of the meeting so that you can plan discovery questions and stay on track.
- Be able to articulate your competitive advantages, clearly and concisely. Be sure you’ve tailored your value proposition to be relevant to the prospect.
- Say thank you again at the close of the meeting. Make the last impression a positive one. A further follow-up with a hand-written thank you note creates a longer-lasting impression.