Here are seven business development best practices to jumpstart the new year – and the new decade! Incorporate these into your activities this year to improve your team’s performance and productivity.
1. Review Your Strategic Account Plan
A good strategic account plan helps to clarify who you are selling to, the needs of your customers and the value you bring to them. It will also help guide your pre- and post-sale acquisition processes and help you focus on what you need to do to achieve your goals. Consider trends happening in your industry and the broader economy, and evaluate how these factors might impact your plan. Set up monthly, quarterly, and annual reviews for the year so that you can make adjustments as needed and track progress toward your goals. Share the plan with others involved in the process to help drive accountability and results.
2. Take Stock of Your Portfolio
Take stock of your company’s portfolio of products and services and the value you can bring to your customers. Are you a niche player or market leader? Are there gaps in your portfolio that need to be addressed now or in the future? Think about who you’re competing with—what is the unique value you bring? Can you meet customer needs in a way that the competition cannot? Pursue accounts that align with the value your company has to offer and where you plan to invest; otherwise, you will be wasting your time and money. Companies that are successful in the long-term take a portfolio-based view of themselves, not an opportunity by opportunity, or account by account view.
3. Focus on Enhancing the Customer Experience
Showing that you care about your customers—both before and after the sale—will help to add value and to build trust and loyalty. Don’t let relationships go cold. There are many ways to engage periodically with customers pre- and post-sales. Set up Google alerts for clients so you can keep track of what’s happening in their world and react as you see fit. Instead of just contacting them when you need something—check in periodically to find out how it’s going and to share useful content and recommendations regularly.
4. Embrace Data Analytics
In an era of digital transformation and data analytics, the most successful companies are data-driven and take a targeted, analytical approach to business development. They carefully evaluate historical data to learn why they win or lose, and look for patterns in the data to understand the types of customers, contracts, and projects that are most profitable for them. Analytics can also help to expand customer value by determining when a current customer is a cross-sell/upsell opportunity based on previous customer data. Emerging technologies like predictive analytics (PA) and machine learning (ML) are helping business development teams move opportunity analysis to a more predictive ‘forward-looking’ view. If you haven’t already—adopt a modern, industry-specific analytics tool that will help your team pursue the best opportunities and build a data-driven pipeline. By focusing your time and efforts on the best, most profitable opportunities, your organization will grow more profitably and increase its competitive advantage.
5. Evaluate Your Tools and Processes
Automation is essential to business growth. Every functional area of an organization is being impacted by advancements in automation—including business development. By automating your reporting, data collection, compliance, proposal generation, and analysis, you can save time that will free up your business development teams to focus on more strategic, value-add activities. Tools designed for automation can help you reduce manual error and achieve standardization in your processes. Automated alerts can be set up to notify salespeople when a customer reaches a particular lead score or completes a series of actions that indicate they are ready to buy. Alerts can also be set up to protect existing customers from churn by notifying sales when a customer’s behavior follows a certain pattern. This year commit to taking a hard look at your processes to determine what can be automated and how modern technologies can help.
6. Align with Strategic Partners
For most industries, a strong business development effort relies on a foundation of strong relationships. The Government Contracting, Aerospace Defense and Manufacturing, and Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC) industries are no exception. Partners can give you access to new markets and customers, lead to subcontracting opportunities, or add value to your existing products and services. Building and managing strategic partnerships is an on-going and long-term effort—based on trust and respect, and mutual goals. Evaluate your partnerships periodically to evaluate alignment and what adjustments might be necessary to increase positive outcomes for both parties.
7. Know Your Competitors
Evaluate companies that provide similar products and services to yours. Perform a SWOT Analysis to learn their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Look at their product strategies and social media presence. What is it that you do that is unique and makes you stand out from the pack? Focus on this differentiation—and incorporate value props into all of your business development messaging. Also, consider—is there something they are doing that you can adopt to add value to the solutions you provide? Knowing your competitors inside and out and understanding how to position yourself in a better light may be your most powerful business development tool.
TechnoMile provides best-in-class technology and business process consulting services to help companies target, qualify, bid, and win more business. Industry-specific solutions are tailored to meet each business’s unique challenges and to simplify, automate, and accelerate their business processes. Built-in analytics and intelligence provide in-depth insight into market opportunities, customers, and competitors. For more information, visit our industries page or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.