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How to Develop a Successful Sales Strategy

Does your company need a boost in its bottom line? If so, perhaps it’s time to review the sales strategy you’re using. If you don’t have one, the following guidelines will help teach you how to develop a successful sales strategy.

Develop Templates and Scripts

If your team doesn’t know what to say when they’re on a call, then they’re likely going to experience few conversions. Therefore, it’s essential to have templates and scripts ready for them to use. If you have a sales strategy plan template or script ready for them to grab during each call, or each time they need to make a pitch, your staff will experience higher levels of success.

What Is Your Buyer’s Persona?

Because consumers are consistently buried with emails, sales flyers and voicemails, it’s no wonder they’re ignoring most of what’s around them. Reach your potential targets with a sales strategy plan that’s developed based on their persona. Think about the challenges they’re facing daily and the problems they’re attempting to solve. How can your sales plan example reach them in a way that helps them make their decision and communicates to them in a way they prefer?

Are You Following-Up?

The problem with sales strategies and their ineffectiveness is their lack of follow-up. Consumers need to hear from the sales team several times before they make their final buying decision. However, it isn’t uncommon for teams to drop the ball in this area. When looking at successful sales strategy examples, you’ll notice the teams are always following-up with their leads and closing the deals. Therefore, it’s essential you’re doing so to increase sales strategy with your team.

Don’t Forget About Promotions

It’s possible to lower a potential target’s resistance to buy when you’re offering add-ons, discounts and free trials. However, you must set parameters with each of these promotional offers. Perhaps only certain targets quality for the promotional offer, or there’s a particular step in the buying process when a discount or add-on is applied. Make these promotional parameters clear to avoid confusion during the buying process and when creating your sample sales strategy plan.

Implement CRM Software

The use of customer relationship management (CRM) software is essential for developing an effective and successful sales strategy. Utilizing these tools help streamline the process through the use of lead scoring, follow-up processing and performance tracking. When developing a sample sales strategy, outline the importance of CRM software and how to use the reports for successful development of a sales strategy.


business development sales strategy

Joe Pope

Your business development strategy can be key to the success or failure of your firm. In this post, we’ll explore how to create a strategy and associated plan that can propel an individual, a practice or an entire firm to new levels of growth and profitability.

Business Development Defined

Business development (BD) is the process that is used to identify, nurture and acquire new clients and business opportunities to drive growth and profitability. A business development strategy is a document that describes the strategy you will use to accomplish that goal.

The scope of business development can be wide ranging and vary a lot from organization to organization. Consider the model of how professional services organizations get new business shown in Figure 1.

business development funnel

Figure 1: The three stages of the business development funnel

The first two stages of the model, Attracting Prospects and Build Engagement, are traditional marketing functions. The final stage, Turning Opportunities into Clients, is a traditional sales function. In the traditional role, business development would be looking for new channels of distribution or marketing partners.

But roles are changing and naming conventions evolve. In today’s world many firms refer to the entire marketing and sales process as business development. I know, it can be confusing. So let’s sort it out a bit.

Business Development vs. Marketing

Marketing is the process of determining which products and services you will offer to which target audiences, at what price. It also addresses how you will position and promote your firm and it’s offerings in the competitive marketplace. The result of all this activity should be an increasing awareness of your firm among your target audience — and a stronger flow of qualified leads and opportunities.

Free Download: Getting Back in the Game: A Playbook to Help Professional Services Firms Win Under “The New Normal”

Historically, business development has been a subset of the marketing function that was focused on acquiring new marketing or distribution relationships and channels. While this role still exists in many companies, the business development title has become interchangeable with many marketing and sales functions.  

Business Development vs. Sales

Sales is the task of converting leads or opportunities into new clients. Business development is a broader term that encompasses many activities beyond the sales function. And while there is some overlap, most traditional BD roles are only lightly involved in closing new clients.  

Business development is often confused with sales. This is not too surprising because many people who are clearly in sales have taken to using the title of Business Developer . Presumably this is done because the organization believes that the BD designation avoids some possible stigma associated with sales.

Nowhere is this practice more prevalent than in professional services. Accountants, lawyers and strategy consultants do not want to be seen as “pushy sales people.” This titular bias is firmly rooted despite the fact that developing new business is an important role of most senior members of professional services firms.

Since so many clients want to meet and get to know the professionals they will be working with, the Seller-doer role is well established in many firms. The preference for Seller-doers also tends to discourage firms from fielding a full-time sales force.

As an alternative approach to leveraging fee-earners’ time, some firms have one or more Business Developers on staff. In the professional services context, these folks are often involved in lead generation and qualification, as well as supporting the Seller-doers in their efforts to close new clients. In other organizational contexts, this role might be thought of as a sales support role.

The result of this confusing picture is that many professional services firms call sales “business development” and make it part of every senior professional’s role. They may also include some marketing functions, such as lead generation and lead nurturing, into the professional’s BD responsibilities.

It is this expanded role, where business development encompasses the full range of lead generation, nurturing and sales tasks, which we will concentrate on in this post.

See also: Heller Consulting Case Story

Business Development Examples

To be clear on what this role entails, let’s consider this business development example:

Bethany is the Director of Business Development at a fictional mid-sized architecture firm. She is not an architect herself. Nor is she involved with any aspect of delivering the projects that the firm has signed. Instead, her role is exclusively focused on signing new business for her firm—with either new clients or existing ones. 

For new clients, Bethany spends much of her time responding to RFPs, communicating directly with inbound leads generated by the marketing/sales enablement team, and nurturing potential clients that she met at a recent industry conference. Bethany also collaborates with the marketing team in the development of new materials she needs to sell to new accounts.

When it comes to existing accounts, Bethany also has a role. She meets monthly with delivery teams to understand whether current client projects are on scope or if change orders are needed. Moreover, she maintains a relationship with key stakeholders of her firm’s clients. If another opportunity for more work opens, she knows that her relationship with the client is an important component to that potential deal.

In this example, Bethany is the primary driver of business development but that does not mean she is doing this alone. Imagine she has a colleague Greg who is a lead architect at the firm. While Greg’s first focus is delivering for his clients, business development—and even marketing—should still be a part of his professional life. Perhaps Greg attends an industry conference with Bethany, he as a speaker and expert and her as the primary networker. The business development dynamic should not end with Bethany and should permeate the whole organization.

In this business development example, you can see that the range of roles and responsibilities is wide. This is why it is essential for business development to not be ad hoc, but done strategically. Let’s talk about that now.

Strategic Business Development

Not all business development is of equal impact. In fact a lot of the activities of many professionals are very opportunistic and tactical in nature.This is especially true with many seller-doers. 

Caught between the pressures of client work and an urgent need for new business they cast about for something quick and easy that will produce short term results. Of course this is no real strategy at all.

Strategic business development is the alignment of business development processes and procedures with your firm’s strategic business goals. The role of strategic business development is to acquire ideal clients for your highest priority services using brand promises that you can deliver upon.

 Deciding which targets to pursue and strategies to employ to develop new business is actually a high stakes decision. A good strategy, well implemented, can drive high levels of growth and profitability. A faulty strategy can stymie growth and frustrate valuable talent.

Yet many firms falter at this critical step. They rely on habit, anecdotes and fads — or worse still, “this is how we have always done it.” In a later section we’ll cover how to develop your strategic business development plan. But first we’ll cover some of the strategies that may go into that plan.

Top Business Development Strategies

Let’s look at some of the most common business development strategies and how they stack up with today’s buyers .

Networking is probably the most universally used business development strategy. It’s built on the theory that professional services buying decisions are rooted in relationships, and the best way to develop new relationships is through face-to-face networking.

It certainly is true that many relationships do develop in that way. And if you are networking with your target audience, you can develop new business. But there are limitations. Today’s buyers are very time pressured, and networking is time consuming. It can be very expensive, if you consider travel and time away from the office.

Newer digital networking techniques can help on the cost and time front. But even social media requires an investment of time and attention.

The close relative of networking, referrals are often seen as the mechanism that turns networking and client satisfaction into new business. You establish a relationship, and that person refers new business to you. Satisfied clients do the same.

Clearly, referrals do happen, and many firms get most or all of their business from them. But referrals are passive. They rely on your clients and contacts to identify good prospects for your services and make a referral at the right time.

The problem is referral sources often do not know the full range of how you can help a client. So many referrals are poorly matched to your capabilities. Other well-matched referrals go unmade because your referral source fails to recognize a great prospect when they see one. Finally, many prospects that might be good clients rule out your firm before even talking with you. One recent study puts the number at over 50%.

Importantly, there are new digital strategies that can accelerate referrals. Making your specific expertise more visible is the key. This allows people to make better referrals and increases your referral base beyond clients and a few business contacts.

Learn More: Referral Marketing Course

Sponsorships and Advertising

Can you develop new business directly by sponsoring events and advertising? It would solve a lot of problems if it works. No more trying to get time from fully utilized billable professionals.

Unfortunately, the results on this front are not very encouraging. Studies have shown that traditional advertising is actually associated with slower growth. Only when advertising is combined with other techniques, such as speaking at an event, do these techniques bear fruit.

The most promising advertising strategy seems to be well-targeted digital advertising. This allows firms to get their messages and offers in front of the right people at a lower cost.

Outbound Telephone and Mail

Professional services firms have been using phone calls and mail to directly target potential clients for decades. Target the right firms and roles with a relevant message and you would expect to find new opportunities that can be developed into clients.

There are a couple of key challenges with these strategies. First they are relatively expensive, so they need to be just right to be effective. Second, if you don’t catch the prospect at the right time, your offer may have no appeal relevance — and consequently, no impact on business development.

The key is to have a very appealing offer delivered to a very qualified and responsive list. It’s not easy to get this combination right.

Thought Leadership and Content Marketing

Here, the strategy is to make your expertise visible to potential buyers and referral sources. This is accomplished through writing, speaking or publishing content that demonstrates your expertise and how it can be applied to solve client problems.

Books, articles and speaking engagements have long been staples of professional services business development strategy. Many high visibility experts have built their practices and firms upon this strategy. It often takes a good part of a career to execute this approach.

But changing times and technology have reshaped this strategy. With the onset of digital communication it is now easier and much faster to establish your expertise with a target market. Search engines have leveled the playing field so that relatively unknown individuals and firms can become known even outside their physical region. Webinars have democratized public speaking, and blogs and websites give every firm a 24/7 presence. Add in video and social media and the budding expert can access a vastly expanded marketplace.

But these developments also open firms to much greater competition as well. You may find yourself competing with specialists whom you were never aware of. The impact is to raise the stakes on your business development strategy.

Combined Strategies

It is common to combine different business development strategies. For example, networking and referrals are frequently used together. And on one level, a combined strategy makes perfect sense. The strength of one strategy can shore up the weakness of another.

But there is a hidden danger. For a strategy to perform at its peak, it must be fully implemented. There is a danger that by attempting to execute too many different strategies you will never completely implement any of them.

Good intentions, no matter how ambitious, are of little real business development value. Under-investment, lack of follow through and inconsistent effort are the bane of effective business development.

It is far more effective to fully implement a simple strategy than to dabble in a complex one. Fewer elements, competently implemented, produce better results.

Next, we turn our attention to the tactics used to implement a high-level strategy. But first there is a bit of confusion to clear up.

Business Development Strategy Vs. Tactics

The line between strategy and tactics is not always clear. For example, you can think of networking as an overall business development strategy or as a tactic to enhance the impact of a thought leadership strategy. Confusing to be sure.

From our perspective, the distinction is around focus and intent. If networking is your business development strategy all your focus should be on making the networking more effective and efficient. You will select tactics that are aimed at making networking more powerful or easier. You may try out another marketing technique and drop it if it does not help you implement your networking strategy.

On the other hand, if networking is simply one of many tactics, your decision to use it will depend on whether it supports your larger strategy. Tactics and techniques can be tested and easily changed. Strategy, on the other hand, is a considered choice and does not change from day to day or week to week.

10 Most Effective Business Development Tactics

Which business development tactics are most effective? To find out, we recently conducted a study that looked at over 1000 professional services firms. The research identified those firms that were growing at greater than a 20% compound annual growth rate over a three-year period.

These High Growth firms were compared to firms in the same industry that did not grow over the same time period. We then examined which business development tactics were employed by each group and which provided the most impact.

The result is a list of the ten most impactful tactics employed by the High Growth firms:

There are a couple of key observations about these growth tactics. First, these techniques can be employed in service of different business development strategies. For example number seven on the list, speaking at targeted conferences or events, can easily support a networking or a thought leadership strategy.

The other observation is that the top tactics include a mix of both digital and traditional techniques. As we will see when we develop your plan, having a healthy mix of digital and traditional techniques tends to increase the impact of your strategy.

Business Development Skills

Now that we have identified the key business development strategies and tactics, it is time to consider the business development skills your team will need. Business development skills require a broad range of technical skills but there are some that make a difference.

When the Hinge Research Institute studied marketing and business development skills in our annual High Growth Study , we found that the firms who grow faster have a skill advantage within their marketing and business development teams.

business development sales strategy

Let’s dive into the top three skills from this list. 

The number one business development skill high growth firms enjoy are strong project management skills. And for experienced business development specialists, this makes good sense. Staying organized, accurately tracking business development activity, and managing accounts are essential for building and maintaining strong business relationships. Activities like the proposal development see business development team resources manage and produce a strong proposal quickly, including the right stakeholders, and without sacrificing quality.

The next most important skill is simplifying complex concepts. In business development conversations, it is vital that team members are strong communicators of your firm’s service offerings and capabilities. Those who are able to take a comlex scope of work and communicate it in a way that a potential buyer can understand. Speaking in industry jargon or overly complicated charts is a fast way to see a business lead become unresponsive. Therefore, it is no surprise to see that the fastest growing professional services firms have an advantage in communicating complex information in a way that buyers understand.

The third most important business development skill is face-to-face networking. Despite the hiatus of many in-person events, high growth firms still reported that strong networking skills are a top skill enjoyed by their firms. Strong face-to-face networking skills are as much of an art as it is a science. While some can be more charismatic than others, everyone can prepare their teams with the resources and plan they need to succeed in a networking environment.

Review the other business development and marketing skills in the figure above and determine which skills your team should aim to develop. Strategy development for planning your business development plan, research for understanding the competitive landscape and industry trends, and social media prowess all play an important role in business development, too. Developing these skills should be a key priority of your business development team.

How to Create Your Strategic Business Development Plan

A Business Development Plan is a document that outlines how you implement your business development strategy. It can be a plan for an individual, a practice or the firm as a whole. Its scope covers both the marketing and sales functions, as they are so intertwined in most professional services firms.

Here are the key steps to develop and document your plan.

Define your target audience

Who are you trying to attract as new clients? Focus on your “best-fit” clients, not all possible prospects. It is most effective to focus on a narrow target audience. But don’t go so narrow that you can’t achieve your business goals.

Research their issues, buying behavior and your competitors

The more you know about your target audience the better equipped you will be to attract their attention and communicate how you can help them. What are their key business issues? Is your expertise relevant to those issues? Where do they look for advice and inspiration? What is the competitive environment like? How do you stack up?

Identify your competitive advantage

What makes you different? Why is that better for your target client? Are you the most cost-effective alternative, or the industry’s leading expert? This “positioning” as it is often called, needs to be true, provable and relevant to the prospect at the time they are choosing which firm to work with. Be sure to document this positioning, as you will use it over and over again as you develop your messages and marketing tools.

Choose your overall business development strategy

Pick the broad strategy or strategies to reach, engage and convert your prospects. You can start with the list of top strategies provided above. Which strategy fits with the needs and preferences of your target audiences? Which ones best convey your competitive advantage? For example, if you are competing because you have superior industry expertise, a thought leadership/content marketing strategy will likely serve you well.

Click to play video

Choose your business development tactics

A great place to start is the list of the most effective tactics we provided above. Make sure that each technique you select fits your target audience and strategy. Remember, it’s not about your personal preferences or familiarity with a tactic. It’s about what works with the audience.

Also, you will need to balance your choices in two important ways: First, you will need tactics that address each stage of the business development pipeline shown in Figure 1. Some techniques work great for gaining visibility but do not address longer-term nurturing. You need to cover the full funnel.

Second, you need a good balance between digital and traditional techniques (Figure 2). Your research should inform this choice. Be careful about assumptions. Just because you don’t use social media doesn’t mean that a portion of your prospects don’t use it to check you out.

Online and Traditional Marketing

Figure 2. Online and offline marketing techniques

When, how often, which conferences, what topics? Now is the time to settle on the details that turn a broad strategy into a specific plan. Many plans include a content or marketing calendar that lays out the specifics, week by week. If that is too much detail for you, at least document what you will be doing and how often. You will need these details to monitor the implementation of your plan.

Specify how you will monitor implementation and impact

Often overlooked, these important considerations often spell the difference between success and failure. Unimplemented strategies don’t work. Keep track of what you do, and when. This will both motivate action and provide a great starting place as you troubleshoot your strategy. Also monitor and record the impacts you see. The most obvious affect will be how much new business you closed. But you should also monitor new leads or new contacts, at the bare minimum. Finally, don’t neglect important process outcomes such as referrals, new names added to your list and downloads of content that expose prospects and referral sources to your expertise.

If you follow these steps you will end up with a documented business development strategy and a concrete plan to implement and optimize it.


How Hinge Can Help

Hinge, a global leader in professional services branding and marketing, helps firms grow faster and become more profitable. Our research-based strategies are designed to be  implemented.  In fact, our groundbreaking  Visible Firm ®  program  combines strategy, implementation, training and more.

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How to Develop a Strategic Plan for Business Development [Free Template]

Meg Prater

Updated: August 25, 2021

Published: April 01, 2021

Business development. It’s usually confused with sales , often overlooked, and only sometimes given the strategic focus it deserves. Having a business development strategy, however, is crucial to long-term success and ensuring that everyone in your company is working toward a common goal.

business development professionals looking over strategic plan

But how do you develop a business development plan? Pull up a chair and stay awhile, I’m diving into that and more below.

Download Now: Free Growth Strategy Template

Business Development

Business development is the practice of identifying, attracting, and acquiring new business to further your company’s revenue and growth goals. How you achieve these goals is sometimes referred to as a business development strategy — and it applies to and benefits everyone at your company.

It’s not unusual to mistake business development with sales, but there’s an important distinction between the two. Business development refers to many activities and functions inside and outside the traditional sales team structure. In some companies, business development is part of the larger sales operations team. In others, it’s part of the marketing team or sits on its own team altogether.

Ready to dive in? Here are the key business development strategies you’ll want to implement.

Business Development Strategies

Free Strategic Planning Template

Fill out this form to get the strategic growth template., 1. understand your competitive landscape..

Before you can develop a strategic plan to drive business growth, you must have a solid understanding of the competitive landscape in your industry. When you know who your ideal customer is and what problem they are looking to solve with your product or service, research who else is providing a viable solution in your industry.

Identify other companies operating in your space. What features do their products have? How competitive is their pricing? Do their systems integrate with other third-party solutions? Get crystal-clear on what the competition is offering so you know how to differentiate your product to your customers.

Featured Resource: 10 Competitive Analysis Templates

Competitive Analysis Templates

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2. Choose effective KPIs.

How will you know if your business development efforts are successful? Ensure you can measure your goals with relevant, meaningful key performance indicators (KPIs) that reflect the health of your business. The result of these metrics should give you a strong indication of how effective your business development efforts are.

Featured Resource: Sales Metrics Calculator Dashboard

Sales Metrics Calculator Dashboard

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3. Develop long-term customer relationships.

Do you engage with your customers even after the deal has been closed? If not, it’s time to develop a plan to keep your buyers engaged. Building long-term relationships with your customers pays off. A grand majority of a company's business comes from repeat customers, and returning customers are cheaper to convert. Indeed, it’s famously known that it costs five times more to convert new customers than it does to sell to returning customers.

Not only are repeat customers easier to sell to, they can also provide valuable feedback and insights to help you improve your business. Additionally, customer testimonials can be used for valuable content that can attract your next buyer.

4. Implement customer feedback.

If and when you have customers who are willing to provide feedback on your sales process and offerings, make sure you hear them out and implement it. Your customers offer a unique, valuable perspective because they chose your product over the competition — their insights can help shape your strategy to keep your business ahead of the curve.

5. Keep your website content and user interface fresh.

When was the last time your company had a website refresh? Can you ensure that all links are working, that your site is easy to navigate, and that it is laid out and intuitive for those who want to buy from you?

Keeping your website up-to-date and easy to use can make or break the sale for customers who know they are ready to buy. Don’t make it too difficult for potential customers to get in touch with you or purchase your product directly (if that suits your business model).

6. Speed up your response time.

How fast your sales team responds to your leads can make or break your ability to close the deal. If you notice your sales process has some lag time that prevents you from responding to prospects as soon as possible, these could be areas to prioritize improvement.

7. Leverage a sales plan to identify areas of growth.

No business development strategy is complete without a sales plan . If you’ve already established a plan, make sure to unify it with your business development efforts. Your plan should outline your target audience, identify potential obstacles, provide a “game plan” for sales reps, outline responsibilities for team members, and define market conditions.

While a sales plan primarily affects your sales team, it can inform the activities of your business development reps. A sales plan can help them understand where the business needs growth — whether it’s in a new vertical, a new audience, or a new need that’s recently come to light in the industry.

Not sure how to create a sales plan? Download the following template to get started.

Featured Resource: Sales Plan Template


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8. Implement a social listening strategy.

While social listening is mainly used in a marketing and customer service context, it’s also an essential practice for business development. There are more than 4 billion social media users worldwide. Naturally, social media is one of the best places to hear directly from consumers and businesses — without needing to reach out to them first.

In business development, you can use social listening to track what the general public is saying about your brand, industry, product offerings, product category, and more. It can help you identify key weaknesses in the industry, making it a prime opportunity to be the first to address those pitfalls.

Use a social listening tool to pick up on trends before they gain traction.

9. Sponsor industry organizations, conferences, and events.

A key facet of business development is reaching potential customers where they are. One of the easiest ways to do that is by sponsoring industry organizations, conferences, and events. This strategy will guarantee that your business development reps get valuable face-to-face time with your business’ target audience. The additional visibility can also help establish your business as a leader in the field.

Now that you understand what business development entails, it's time to create a plan to set your strategy in motion.

How to Develop a Strategic Plan

When we refer to a business development strategic plan, we’re referring to a roadmap that guides the whole company and requires everyone’s assistance to execute successfully and move your customer through the flywheel . With a plan, you’ll close more deals and quantify success.

Let’s go over the steps you should take to create a strategic plan.

1. Download our strategic plan template .

First, download our free growth strategy template to create a rock-solid strategic plan. With this template, you can map a growth plan for increasing sales, revenue, and customer acquisition rates. You can also create action plans for adding new locations, creating new product lines, and expanding into new regions.

Featured Resource: Strategic Plan Template


Download the Template Now

2. Craft your elevator pitch.

What is your company’s mission and how do you explain it to potential clients in 30 seconds or less? Keeping your elevator pitch at the forefront of all strategic planning will remind everyone what you’re working toward and why.

Some people believe the best pitch isn’t a pitch at all , but a story. Others have their favorite types of pitches , from a one-word pitch to a Twitter pitch that forces you to boil down your elevator pitch to just 280 characters.

Find the elevator pitch that works best for your reps, company, and offer, and document it in your business development strategy.

3. Include an executive summary.

You’ll share your strategic plan with executives and maybe even board members, so it’s important they have a high-level overview to skim. Pick the most salient points from your strategic plan and list or summarize them here.

You might already have an executive summary for your company if you’ve written a business proposal or value proposition . Use this as a jumping off point but create one that’s unique to your business development goals and priorities.

Once your executives have read your summary, they should have a pretty good idea of your direction for growing the business — without having to read the rest of your strategy.

3. Set SMART goals.

What are your goals for this strategy? If you don’t know, it will be difficult for your company and team to align behind your plan. So, set SMART goals . Remember, SMART stands for:

Featured Resource: SMART Goal Setting Template

SMART goal setting template

If one of your goals is for 5% of monthly revenue to come from upsells or cross-sells, make this goal specific by identifying what types of clients you’ll target.

Identify how you’ll measure success. Is success when reps conduct upsell outreach to 30 clients every month, or is it when they successfully upsell a customer and close the deal? To make your goal attainable, ensure everyone on your team understands who is responsible for this goal: in this case, sales or business development reps.

This goal is relevant because it will help your company grow, and likely contributes to larger company-wide goals. To make it time-based, set a timeline for success and action. In this case, your sales team must achieve that 5% upsell/cross-sell number by the end of the quarter.

4. Conduct SWOT analysis.

SWOT is a strategic planning technique used to identify a company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

Before conducting a SWOT, identify what your goal is. For example, “We’d like to use SWOT to learn how best to conduct outreach to prospective buyers.”

Once you’ve identified what you’re working toward, conduct market research by talking with your staff, business partners, and customers.

Next, identify your business’ strengths. Perhaps you have low employee turnover, a central location that makes it easy to visit with prospects in person, or an in-demand feature your competitors haven’t been able to mimic.

Featured Resource: Market Research Kit with SWOT Analysis Template

SWOT Analysis Template

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Your business’ weaknesses are next. Has your product recently glitched? Have you been unable to successfully build out a customer service team that can meet the demands of your customers?

Then, switch to opportunities. For example, have you made a new business partnership that will transition you into a previously untapped market segment?

What are the threats? Is your physical space getting crowded? What about your market space? Is increasing competition an issue?

Use SWOT results to identify a better way forward for your company.

5. Determine how you’ll measure success.

You’ve identified strengths and weaknesses and set SMART goals , but how will you measure it all ? It’s important for your team to know just how they will be measured, goaled, and rewarded. Common key performance indicators (KPIs) for business development include:

6. Set a budget.

What will your budget be for achieving your goals? Review financial documents, historical budgets, and operational estimates to set a budget that’s realistic.

Once you have a “draft” budget, check it against other businesses in your industry and region to make sure you’re not overlooking or misjudging any numbers. Don’t forget to factor in payroll, facilities costs, insurance, and other operational line items that tend to add up.

7. Identify your target customer.

Who will your business development team pursue? Your target market is the group of customers your product/service was built for. For example, if you sell a suite of products for facilities teams at enterprise-level companies, your target market might be facilities or janitorial coordinators at companies with 1000+ employees. To identify your target market:

Your target customer is the person most likely to buy your product. Do your homework and make sure your business development plan addresses the right people. Only then will you be able to grow your business.

8. Choose an outreach strategy.

What tactics will you use to attract new business for your sales team to close? You might focus on a single tactic or a blend of a few. Once you know who your target market is and where they “hang out,” then you can choose an appropriate outreach strategy.

Will your business development plan rely heavily on thought leadership such as speaking at or attending conferences? Will you host a local meetup for others in your industry? Or will your reps network heavily on LinkedIn and social media?

If referrals will be pivotal to your business’ growth, consider at which stage of the buying process your BDRs will ask for referrals. Will you ask for a referral even if a prospect decides they like your product/service but aren’t a good fit? Or will you wait until a customer has been using your solution for a few months? Define these parameters in your strategy.

Upselling and Cross-Selling

Upselling and cross-selling are a cost-effective way of growing your business. But it’s important that this tactic is used with guardrails. Only upsell clients on features that will benefit them as well as your bottom line. Don’t bloat client accounts with features or services they really don’t need — that’s when turnover and churn start to happen.

Sponsorship and Advertising

Will your BDR work with or be on the marketing team to develop paid advertising campaigns? If so, how will your BDRs support these campaigns? And which channels will your strategy include? If you sell a product, you might want to feature heavily on Instagram or Facebook. If you’re selling a SaaS platform, LinkedIn or Twitter might be more appropriate.

What’s your outreach strategy? Will your BDRs be held to a quota to make 25 calls a week and send 15 emails? Will your outreach strategy be inbound , outbound , or a healthy combination of both? Identify the outreach guardrails that best match your company values for doing business.

Strategic Plan Example

Let’s put all of these moving parts in action with a strategic plan example featuring good ol’ Dunder Mifflin Paper Company.

Elevator Pitch Example for Strategic Plan

Dunder Mifflin is a local paper company dedicated to providing excellent customer support and the paper your business needs to excel today and grow tomorrow.

Here are some additional resources for inspiration:

Executive Summary Example for Strategic Plan

At Dunder Mifflin, our strengths are our customer service, speed of delivery, and our local appeal. Our weakness is that our sales cycle is too long.

To shorten the sales cycle 5% by the end of Q4, we need to ask for more referrals (which already enjoy a 15% faster sales cycle), sponsor local professional events, and outreach to big box store customers who suffer from poor customer support and are more likely to exit their contract. These tactics should allow us to meet our goal in the agreed-upon timeline.

SMART Goals Example for Strategic Plan

Dunder Mifflin’s goal is to decrease our sales cycle 5% by the end of Q4. We will do this by more proactively scheduling follow-up meetings, sourcing more qualified, ready-to-buy leads, and asking for 25% more referrals (which have a 15% shorter sales cycle already). We will measure success by looking at the sales pipeline and calculating the average length of time it takes a prospect to become closed won or closed lost.

SWOT Analysis Example for Strategic Plan

Strengths: Our strengths are our reputation in the greater Scranton area, our customer service team (led by Kelly Kapoor), and our warehouse team, who ship same day reams to our customers — something the big box stores cannot offer.

Weaknesses: Our greatest weakness is that our sales team has been unable to successfully counter prospects who choose big box stores for their paper supply. This results in a longer than average sales cycle, which costs money and time.

Opportunities: Our greatest business opportunity is to conduct better targeted outreach to prospects who are ready to buy, ask for more referrals from existing customers, and follow-up with closed lost business that’s likely coming up on the end of an annual contract with a big box store.

Threats: Our biggest threat is large box stores offering lower prices to our prospects and customers and a sales cycle that is too long, resulting in low revenue and slow growth.

Measurement of Success Example for Strategic Plan

We will measure success by looking at the sales pipeline and calculating the average length of time it takes a prospect to become closed won or closed lost.

Budget Example for Strategic Plan

You've laid out the SMART goals and the way you'll measure for success. The budget section's goal is to estimate how much investment it will take to achieve those goals. This will likely end up being a big-picture overview, broken down into a budget by a program or a summary of key investments. Consider laying it out in a table format like so:

Marketing budget table

Target Customer Example for Strategic Plan

Our target customer is office managers at small- to medium-sized companies in the greater Scranton, PA area. They are buying paper for the entire office, primarily for use in office printers, custom letterhead, fax machines. They are busy managing the office and value good customer service and a fast solution for their paper needs.

Outreach Strategy Example for Strategic Plan

Networking, sponsorships, and referrals will be our primary mode of outreach. We will focus on networking at regional paper conferences, HR conferences, and local office manager meetups. We will sponsor local professional events. And we will increase the volume of referrals we request from existing customers.

Create a Strategic Plan for Business Development

Without a strategic plan, you can invest resources, time, and funds into business development initiatives that don’t grow your business. A strategic plan is crucial to align your business development and sales teams and have everyone working toward the greater good of your company.

Editor's note: This post was originally published in January 2020 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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Start » strategy, how to create a ‘biz dev’ strategy to grow your business.

A strong business development strategy allows your business to create strong relationships with promising prospects and generate revenue.

By: Sean Peek , Contributor

 co-workers having a meeting

If you ask 10 professionals what business development, or ‘biz dev,’ is, you’ll likely get 10 different answers.

To some, business development is just another term for sales. Many view it as the process of forming strategic partnerships. Others define it as a marketing tactic.

Business development expert Scott Pollack describes it best : “Business development is the creation of long-term value for an organization from customers, markets and relationships.”

This makes business development unique from other professional fields because the day-to-day tasks vary greatly by industry and by the specific needs of each organization. It is often the link between several different departments, such as marketing, branding and sales, and business development professionals collaborate with these teams to discover opportunities and develop relationships that ultimately have a positive impact on the organization.

Sales vs. business development

It’s easy to view business development as a sales process, but they’re not quite the same job.

The main objective of sales is to close deals with customers to drive revenue and maintain a high profit margin. A salesperson works at the end of the sales funnel to close deals, ensure products or services are delivered, and create repeat customers.

Business development, on the other hand, looks for prospects, nurtures relationships and guides leads toward the sales funnel. It is the process of identifying ideal customers and partnerships, building relationships and developing solutions that can then be handed off to the sales team to close.

While they are two very different roles within an organization, sales and business development work in tandem to generate revenue and grow the business.

Why you need a business development strategy

A strong business development strategy is the roadmap that instructs your team how to find and generate high-value leads to support your long-term goals.

Without a strategy, your team may struggle to find qualifying prospects or, at worst, spend months developing a relationship with prospects who don’t convert.

Business development is the creation of long-term value for an organization from customers, markets and relationships.

Scott Pollack, business development expert

How to create a business development strategy for your business

There are four main steps to take in creating a firm, reliable business development strategy.

Identify your audience

Creating a successful business development strategy starts with identifying your ideal audience. Focus on specific firms or individuals that will propel your business forward. You don’t need to have a large audience, but you do need a high-quality one.

Business development can be a long process, and the relationships you develop may take months or even years to turn into a sale. The last thing you want is to foster a relationship with an unqualified prospect.

Perform market research

Once you have defined your audience, learn everything you can about them. Before you can encourage your audience to work with you, you have to be able to answer the following questions:

With these questions answered, you can start analyzing your competition. Understand what makes you different from all of your competitors. This is the competitive advantage that you will use to communicate your value to prospects.

Determine which channels to use

The next step is to assess your total revenue goals for the year and determine which channels will help you achieve that target. The most common business development channels are a combination of networking, referrals, advertising, cold calls and content marketing.

Define S.M.A.R.T. goals

For each channel, set S.M.A.R.T—specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-related— goals to measure and track your progress. Your business development goals don’t have to be directly tied to generating revenue, but they should involve methods of introducing prospects to your sales funnel.

If you need help or inspiration defining your goals, take a look at these five S.M.A.R.T. goals for business development from Rapidan Inbound.

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What is business development? Strategy, plan, and skills

Understand business development so you know what your bd department does and how to best use their skills..

By Donny Kelwig, Contributing Writer

Last updated January 11, 2023

Business development

Anyone working in business development knows that it can be tough to explain. If someone asks you what you do for a living and you say, “Business development” or “biz dev,” you’ll probably get a quizzical look.

So if you don’t have a thorough grasp of what business development is, don’t worry—you’re not alone. The best way to understand biz dev is to break it into clear pieces.

Keep reading to explore business development in all its facets, including how to create a business development strategy.

Business development definition and variations

Business development (BD) is a strategy used to find new prospects and nurture them to help drive business growth.

According to Forbes , business development is “the creation of long-term value for an organization from customers, markets, and relationships.” That’s a simplified definition, and it still faces the hurdle of trying to encompass the massive range of responsibilities that go into BD. Every effort involved in business development is an activity that helps make a business better. But one could argue that that definition describes every action of every employee.

So, what makes business development different?

The easiest way to understand BD is to look at it as the umbrella that works to improve all other departments. Though BD isn’t sales, it helps improve sales; it’s not marketing, but it improves marketing.

Sales vs. business development

Sales vs. business development

When it comes to sales development , there’s a more significant focus on researching and identifying leads and pushing them through the sales process to close a deal.

Business development involves finding new ways to grow and forming partnerships that can help open doors to fresh markets and opportunities.

What is new business development?

New business development means an existing company is developing a plan to introduce a new product or service under a new business model in a relatively unknown market. It’s aligned with business development because it seeks to expand and generate more revenue for the company. It has its own title because it can be a radical and risky approach.

Unlike normal business development, new business development takes the company outside its comfort zone and tries a tactic the company hasn’t previously attempted.

Example: A sit-down restaurant that exclusively serves dine-in guests employs new business development when it starts offering delivery or partners with a food delivery service like Grubhub.

Business development representatives and their roles

Employees who work for your biz dev department are called business development representatives , or BDRs.

BDRs work with nearly all your departments as they search for and implement new strategies, targets, prospects, and tactics for your company. Since BDRs work with many people and have varied skill sets, they need to come to the table with specific experiences and qualities.

Given the wide scope of responsibilities, it’s impossible to list all the activities that go into business development. That said, here are the key tasks your BD team will likely focus on:

business development sales strategy

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Business development strategy overview: How to create one in 10 steps

Creating a business development stratgey

BD activities revolve around implementing a business development strategy. But how do you create that strategy?

All BD strategies begin with a plan and goals—start developing your own business development strategy by following the steps below:

1. Craft an elevator pitch

You need a concise 30-second pitch for any plan, including a BD plan. Want to go the extra mile? Craft several sales pitches and see which ones are most effective. You’ll be able to pitch while simultaneously conducting market research.

An elevator pitch summarizes what your business does, who you serve, and how your business differs from competitors. The goal of your elevator pitch is to open up the conversation about how you can serve your customers. When crafting your pitch, here are some best practices to follow:

2. List your SMART goals

The SMART system is a great tool for business development goals. SMART goals are those that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. For example, a good SMART goal for a business development strategy could be:

“I will aim to improve first-response time for customer issues by increasing the number of customer service staff from 10 to 15 people in the next three quarters.”

By following the SMART system, you’ll keep your goals aligned with those of other departments and ensure they’re achievable with your current resources.

3. Perform a SWOT analysis

SWOT analysis stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. It’s an effective tool for business development because it helps you pinpoint your growth areas. The best way to use SWOT is to pick a specific aspect of your business to analyze. When conducting a SWOT analysis, keep these questions in mind:

You can also pair this with a positioning statement to help guide your analysis.

Example: If you’re looking to launch a new product, you can look at what your company does well, what it does poorly, where it might be missing opportunities, and what other companies might be doing better.

4. Define your audience

Next, define your target audience—this can help you determine who you want to attract as potential new clients. While you want to get specific about who to target, avoid getting so specific that you run out of prospects. You can do this by:

5. Conduct market research

Perform research to determine who your competitors are and what your customers want and need. You should know your customers’ problems and how you can solve them.

You can gain valuable insights into your audience’s needs through customer surveys . Eighty percent of companies that see year-over-year growth use surveys to collect customer experience data. Here are tips for creating a survey:

6. State your KPIs

To evaluate your plan’s success, you need to identify measurable data points through which you can document positive (or negative) outcomes. You can do this through key performance indicators ( KPIs ).

Depending on what you’re assessing, these KPIs can range from revenue changes to leads and conversion rates. The important thing is that you choose specific KPIs to complement your plan. Some biz dev KPIs include:

7. Plan a budget

Possibly the most important aspect of your plan is your budget . Your company must be able to afford your plan before approving it and starting implementation.

Keep your proposed budget realistic, but don’t be afraid to push. After all, if your plan works, you should be able to make that money back. Be sure to include these elements in your business budget:

8. Focus on strong customer service

High-quality customer service should be top of mind—it could be the difference between a customer choosing you over a competitor.

Maintain good customer support with existing customers, too, to ensure you build a lasting relationship with them. Plus, if they continually have positive experiences with your team, they may refer other contacts to your business.

9. Incorporate a sales plan

A business development strategy isn’t whole without a sales plan . A sales plan helps outline your sales strategy and includes:

Although this is centered around the sales team, it can provide your biz dev team with helpful insights.

10. Implement a process

Once you have a solid plan, implementation ideally becomes a mere matter of assigning and supervising. The steps for implementation are going to vary based on your plan’s parameters, but here are a few things to keep in mind when you launch:

Use a CRM to align your business development plans

Putting puzzle pieces together

Business development is all about facilitating communication between departments to achieve new business goals. The best way to align your company with a unified vision is through a CRM.

With a simple CRM like Zendesk Sell , communication between your business development team and all other departments becomes effortless. Plans can move and adjust in real time in response to everything from marketing clicks to sales tracking . (If you’re new to the CRM world, we’re happy to walk you through it with our CRM software explainer .)

Your BD team already has a thousand things to juggle every day, so why make their lives harder? Request a demo of Zendesk Sell today to keep your biz dev team—and your business—ahead of the competition.

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4 Key Business Development Strategies for Optimal Growth

Emily Barr July 16, 2020 Alignment & Direction , Coaching & Leadership , Leaders

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Your company’s business development strateg ies  can be the key to the success or failure of your organization.   It is the secret ingredient  to  transforming your business into one comprised of strong relationships, promising prospects, and increased revenues. Creating a strategy and an associated plan, and leveraging it in the right way, can propel an employee, a team, or an entire company to new levels of growth and profitability.   

What is a Business Development Strategy?  

Business development is the process used to identify, nurture, and acquire new clients and business opportunities to drive organizational growth and increase profits.  Essentially, it is the creation of long-term value for a business from customers, markets, and relationships. The  business development strategy  is the document that outlines the strategy you will use to accomplish that goal.   

The Importance of a Good Business Development Strategy  

A strong business development strategy is the framework that instructs your team on how to find and generate high-value leads that will ultimately support the company’s long-term goals. If you do not have a strategy in place, your employees may struggle to identify those qualifying prospects, or even spend valuable time developing relationships with prospects who will never convert.   

The scope of what business development looks like is wide, varying from organization to organization. Generally, professional service organizations generate new business by following a three-tier funnel approach. The first two stages are Attracting Prospects and Building Engagement, which are traditionally marketing functions. The third and final stage, Turning Opportunities into Clients, is traditionally a sales function. In this structure, the business development plan would be to seek out new channels of sales and distribution, as well as new marketing partners. This is an example of strategic business development.  

Strategic Business Development  

Strategic business development aims to align business development processes and procedures with the company’s strategic business goals. The object is to acquire the ideal clients for the organization’s highest priority services, accomplished by using brand promises that you are able to deliver on.   

Actually,  determining which targets to pursue, and which business development strategies to employ, to generate new business can be a risky decision. When a strategy is strong, suitable for the company’s goals, and is well implemented, it has the potential to drive high levels of growth and profitability for the business. A faulty strategy and implementation, however, can hinder growth and frustrate your top  performers and most valuable talent.  This is why it is critical to have a thorough understanding of the business development strategies that yield the best results for your company, and how to go about embedding those into your business development plan as a whole.  

Succession Management 2

Creating a Business Development Strategy for Optimal Growth  

The four-step process  .

There are four main stages to go through when creating a firm, reliable business development strategy for your organization.  

1. Identify Your Audience  

In order to create a business development strategy that yields optimal growth and profit opportunities, you first need to identify your ideal audience. Focus on specific firms, industry fields, or individuals that are sure to propel your business forward. Aim for quality over quantity – a large audience is not always necessary, but a high-performing one always is.   

Keep in mind that successful business development does not happen overnight. Strong relationships may take months, or even years, to turn into a sale. Similarly, unsuitable prospects will not reveal themselves to be so after your first encounter. This is why it’s important to nail down the exact target audience, so you don’t waste valuable time fostering a relationship with an unqualified prospect who will never close the deal.  

2. Perform Market Research  

Once your audience has been identified, you now need to learn as much as you can about them. Before you can begin encouraging them to work with you, you should be able to answer the following questions about them:   

Once you have a response to these questions, then you can begin to analyze your competition. Identify what sets you out from your competitors,  leveraging that difference as your competitive advantage that you can then when communicating your value to prospects.   

3. Determine the Appropriate Channels  

Once you have identified your target audience, learned everything there is to know about them, and established a plan of action to set you apart from your competitors, you can begin to outline the channels you will use to achieve your target. This involves assessing your total revenue goals for the  year and  outlining the specific methods you will use to reach those goals. These channels are covered in the top business development strategies and tactics you can use to generate new business, which we will discuss later.   

4. Define S.M.A.R.T. Goals  

For each channel you have, set S.M.A.R.T (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-related) goals that will help you to measure and track your progress. Your overall business development goal does not necessarily have to be directly tied to generating profit and revenue, but there should be a component that aims at introducing new prospects to your company’s sales funnel.  

Sprigg makes it easy to set effective SMART Goals that set you up for success!

The Top Business Development Strategies to Use Today  

As discussed, the business development strategies used by your company can also be described as channels through which you work to achieve your total revenue and business targets. The most common business development strategies are a combination of networking, referrals, advertising, and content marketing. It is through the strategic use and leveraging of these outreach tactics that companies nurture successful business relationships and partnerships.  

1. Networking

As the most universally used business strategy, networking is built on the theory that professional services buying decisions are rooted in trusted relationships, and the key to best developing new relationships is through face-to-face networking.   

While many business relationships continue to develop that way, and the benefits of direct networking with your target audience remain valuable, networking can be an outdated practice in today’s market if utilized incorrectly. Modern buyers and prospects are time pressured, more so than they used to be, and face-to-face networking is a time-consuming process. It can also be expensive, if travel and time away from the office become habitual.   

Companies can use new digital networking techniques to help cover the cost and time, reducing networking to a digital outreach strategy rather than a regular in-person meeting, but even social media requires an investment of valuable time and attention that can be lost if misused.  

2. Referrals

Closely related to networking are referrals, which are often regarded as the mechanism that turns networking and client satisfaction into new business. A positive relationship with a satisfied customer can open the door to a whole new network of prospects, but reliance upon client referrals to drum up new business is risky if it is your only approach to growing as a company.   

Referrals are useful, but they are also passive. They rely on your clients to identify the good prospects of your services, rather than you  outlining  a strategic advertisement plan, and also requires that they make referrals at the right time.  While successful referrals happen all the time, referral sources often do not know the full range of how your products and services can help a potential client, meaning their success rate is much lower than if you were to do the outreach yourself.   

Luckily, there are several new digital strategies that can accelerate the rate of positive and well-matched referrals. A critical point of this is boosting the visibility of your specific expertise. Your existing clients will have a better understanding of what it is you offer, leading to better referrals and an increase in a referral base larger than a few clients and business contacts.   

3. Sponsorships and Advertising

Paid advertising and sponsored partnerships are a solid business development tactic. In today’s age when traditional advertising methods are losing their long-standing success rate, turning to well-targeted digital advertising is critical. The key to digital advertising is to find your target audience on their preferred  platform and  start your growth there. If your audience are avid YouTube users, create strong, targeted video ads and run them on there. If they have high engagement rates with your brand on Twitter, invest in advertisement there. Appropriately directed advertisements allow companies to get their messages and offers in front of the right people, without the excessive costs of general, sweeping ads on various platforms.   

4. Thought Leadership and Content Marketing

The business development strategy of thought leadership and content marketing has one primary goal: make your expertise visible to potential clients and referral sources. We have already discussed the importance of refining your referral process to ensure the right expertise is being advertised among your referral pool, but that can only be achieved when your specific expertise is completely apparent.   

This strategy can be accomplished through writing, speaking, or publishing content that demonstrates your expertise, and also how it can be applied to solve client problems. Long staples of professional business development strategies include books, articles, and speaking engagements, meaning many high visibility experts have built up their practices and businesses upon this strategy specifically.   

Like all other approaches, changing times and technologies have reshaped the way this strategy can be leveraged to its highest potential. With digital communication the new norm, establishing your expertise to your target market is much easier and quicker than it used to be. Search engines have levelled the playing field, so that even relatively unknown individuals and businesses can become known to potential prospects outside their physical region. Webinars are commonplace, a democratized version that dominates the space public speaking used to take up, and blogs and websites give every business a firm 24/7 presence on the market.   

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In Summary  

It is far more common than not for companies to combine different business development strategies to best suit their business and to reach their identified targets. However, it is essential that any approach to business development be carefully curated to eliminate the losses that come from misguided attempts to acquire new clients and business opportunities. Good intentions,  no matter  how ambitious, are of little real business development value. It is far more effective to implement a simple strategic plan than to dabble in several complex ones in hopes of positive results. Fewer elements, when competently implemented, always produce better results.   

Ultimately, your business development strategy is the key to the success or failure of your company. It should be a primary goal to develop a strategy, and an associated plan of action, that will propel you and your company to new levels of growth and profitability.   

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10 Business Development Tactics You Need to Adopt to Fill Your Pipeline

Erika Giles

Erika Giles | July 15, 2020 | Sales Strategy | 7 min read

Business Development Tactics

An increase in marketing efforts often yields more leads. But an increase in traffic can sometimes bring in low-quality leads.

This is where your business development reps come in to try to weed out low-quality leads by asking qualifying questions and applying other business development tactics.

In order for your team to send quality leads who are thoroughly vetted to your account executives to close the deal, they need great tactics they can use every time they address a prospect.

What Is Business Development?

Business development , also referred to as sales development, is the process that takes advantage of the early stages of the sales cycle to identify potential leads and qualify prospects for further sales outreach.

This allows sales and marketing to bridge the gap between them to help save time and resources expended on low-quality leads. 

Marketing teams use campaigns to attract new prospects by increasing awareness, and these campaigns typically result in more contacts added to your database.

However, more doesn’t always mean better. The campaigns may attract leads that are not committed to traveling the whole way through the sales funnel up until purchase. This can cause sales teams to waste a large portion of their time trying to sell leads who simply aren’t interested. 

Business development representatives take care of this problem by vetting prospects and sending qualified leads to account executives so they can close the deal. 

The goal of business development is to fill your pipeline with leads that will buy either now or in the future. 

Many businesses handle the lead qualification process by implementing a lead scoring system . Each company and industry may have their own way of lead scoring, but basically it involves giving points to prospects based on varying behaviors and attributes the prospect exhibits. 

What Do Business Development Representatives Do?

Business development representatives are specialized sales professionals who focus on reaching out to prospects, lead qualifying, and prospecting . They connect with as many prospects as possible to determine if they fit the ideal customer profile . 

Here are some of the job duties and responsibilities of a business development rep:

Business development reps also build rapport with prospects to establish a good working relationship between their company and the individual. They use several business development tactics to help close more leads for businesses. 

10 Business Development Tactics You Need in Your Strategy

To have an effective strategy, you need to apply key business development tactics to meet your goals and objectives. Here are 10 great business development tactics you and your team can use in your strategy.

Be Persistent With Leads.

In a perfect world, leads would purchase an item during your first interaction with them. Unfortunately, according to recent sales research, it takes an average of eight interactions with a prospect before they decide to purchase and become a valued customer. 

This means that BDRs must be persistent and follow up with prospects on a regular basis. However, that does not mean that you should stalk your prospect. No one wants that. 

Essentially BDRs should nurture leads by emailing, calling, or sending direct mail periodically to provide helpful information. When they take this action, they can ensure that a prospect will think of them first when the time comes for them to make their first purchase. 

Help Solve Your Prospects’ Problems.

Your prospects probably have a host of problems, and if you can help with one or two of them in some way, it’ll be a huge win for them. For your BDRs to provide solutions for your new prospects and leads, they need to understand the ins and outs of your offerings and their role in the sales cycle. 

Most prospects who search for your business want you to help them. Make sure your BDRs know the exact ways your products and services address their specific pain points. 

Develop Active Listening.

With all the access to great resources and information available on the web, your prospects may be just as knowledgeable as your sales reps. Some of your other prospects may know very little about what you do or how you can help them. 

Your BDRs need to listen to gain an understanding of how they can nurture each lead as an individual. 

More knowledgeable prospects don’t need to be told the details about why they need what you have. Instead, sales reps should listen and ask questions to get an idea of their thought process to determine if what you offer is a good fit for them. 

Ask Lead Qualifying Questions.

Asking a series of targeted lead qualifying questions helps your BDRs to gauge whether or not a prospect is truly interested or actively willing to go through with the entire sales process.

If they are truly interested, the answers they give can provide sales team members with valuable information so they know how to help them in the best way possible. 

Ask for Referrals.

Most often, customers will provide referral contacts to sales professionals who they like. Focus on providing prospects and customers with a great customer service experience and then ask them for referrals . 

If you truly provided them with a solution to their problems, then they will want to help their friends and family accomplish the same things. This allows you to fill up your pipeline without needing to exert much effort. 

You’ll never know how many referrals you can get unless your BDRs ask for them each and every time. 

Adhere to Deadlines.

Let your prospects know that your products and/or services are in demand. Create a sense of urgency so your deals don’t take much longer than necessary. 

This doesn’t mean you have to create different deadlines for each prospect and lose credibility. Create a standard deadline for a particular offer, and hold your customers to that deadline.

If they want and need what you are offering, then they will meet the deadline and continue on through the sales funnel . 

Develop Relationships With Your Customers.

Sales reps have the unique opportunity to create relationships with new customers. And that relationship doesn’t have to end after the deal closes either. 

Sales reps can continuously provide their customers with value by checking in with them periodically to offer them tips, help, advice, and resources. 

Past customers can also be a great source of new business for years to come. Take advantage of opportunities to upsell more products or services that provide value to them.

Over the years, your business may develop new services or products that can enhance what they’ve already purchased. Make sure they are aware of this by staying in regular contact with them. 

Identify Your Prospects’ Needs and Meet Them.

You can’t know how to help your prospects unless you know what they need. Some prospects don’t know how to put what they need into words, so you must interpret what they are saying and what they are not saying to get an accurate idea of their needs. 

If you don’t understand what they need, ask them clarifying questions or ask them to show you what their specific pain points are. When you understand their problems, you can show them solutions. 

Once you understand the problem, then you may only focus on the solution so you can meet or exceed their expectations. 

Master the Art of Storytelling.

Facts and data are important for educating prospects, but you need one other key element – storytelling .

Stories stick better in people’s minds, and when sales professionals help make the prospects the center of the story, they're equipped to provide them with a happy ending. 

The best way for sales professionals to do this is by keeping a stock of great success stories to relay to prospects. Once they hear that other people like them have had success with your products or services, they will begin to believe that they can have the same success.

This will entice them and allow sales reps to move them further along in the sales process. 

Show Proof That Your Product or Service Works.

Stories are a great way to let your prospect know that your services or products work. Show them that they work by delivering infographics, providing them with demonstrations, or giving them access to real customer testimonials from your best success stories. 

When customers are able to view proof, they are more likely to invest in your solution. 

Business development is critical to the modern day sales organization. Your sales strategy can be greatly enhanced by the connection your business development reps make with your customers.

The best way to do this, of course, is by applying key tactics to your strategy to continuously serve great leads to your team.

How To Serve Up Better Leads To Your Sales Team

Erika Giles

Erika is a Marketing Copywriter at Bluleadz. She is a huge fan of houseplants and podcasts about conspiracy theories. She spends most of her free time reading, writing, and enjoying the outdoors.

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Why is new business development important, what are the key skills for business development executives, how can i be successful in business development, what should a business development plan include, the bottom line.

business development sales strategy

What Are the Basics of Business Development?

In the simplest terms, business development can be summarized as the ideas, initiatives, and activities that help make a business better. This includes increasing revenues, growth in terms of business expansion, increasing profitability by building strategic partnerships, and making strategic business decisions.

“Business Development Executive,” “Manager of Business Development,” and “VP, Business Development” are all impressive job titles often heard in business organizations. Sales, strategic initiatives, business partnerships , market development, business expansion, and marketing —all of these fields are involved in business development but are often mixed up and mistakenly viewed as the sole function of business development. 

Key Takeaways

Understanding the Basics of Business Development

Business development activities extend across different departments, including sales , marketing, project management, product management, and vendor management . Networking, negotiations, partnerships, and cost-savings efforts are also involved. All of these different departments and activities are driven by and aligned with the business development goals. 

For instance, a business has a product or service which is successful in one region, such as the United States. The business development team assesses further expansion potential. After all due diligence , research, and studies, it finds that the product or service can be expanded to a new region, such as Brazil.

Sales personnel focus on a particular market or a particular (set of) client(s), often for a targeted revenue number. In this case, business development assesses the Brazilian markets and concludes that sales worth $1.5 billion can be achieved in three years. With such set goals, the sales department targets the customer base in the new market with their sales strategies.

Marketing involves promotion and advertising aimed towards the successful sale of products to end customers. Marketing plays a complementary role in achieving sales targets. Business development initiatives may allocate an estimated marketing budget. Higher budgets allow aggressive marketing strategies like cold calling , personal visits, roadshows, and free sample distribution. Lower budgets tend to result in passive marketing strategies, such as limited online ads, print ads, social media ads, and billboards.

Strategic Initiatives or Partnerships

To enter a new market, will it be worth going solo by clearing all required formalities, or will it be more sensible to form a strategic alliance or partnership with local firms already operating in the region? Assisted by legal and finance teams, the business development team weighs all of the pros and cons of the available options and selects the one that best serves the business.

Project Management/Business Planning

Does the business expansion require a new facility in the new market, or will all the products be manufactured in the base country and then imported into the targeted market? Will the latter option require an additional facility in the base country? Such decisions are finalized by the business development team based on their cost- and time-related assessments. Then, the project management /implementation team swings into action to work towards the desired goal.

Regulatory standards and market requirements vary across countries. A medicine of a certain composition may be allowed in India but not in the United Kingdom, for example. Does the new market require a customized—or altogether new—version of the product?

These requirements drive the work of product management and manufacturing departments, as decided by the business strategy. Cost consideration, legal approvals, and regulatory adherence are all assessed as a part of a business development plan.

Will the new business need external vendors ? For example, will the shipping of a product need a dedicated courier service? Will the firm partner with any established retail chain for retail sales? What are the costs associated with these engagements? The business development team works through these questions.

Negotiations, Networking, and Lobbying

A few business initiatives may need expertise in soft skills . For example, lobbying is legal in some locales and may become necessary for penetrating the market. Other soft skills like networking and negotiating may be needed with different third parties, such as vendors, agencies, government authorities, and regulators. All such initiatives are part of business development.

Business development is not just about increasing sales, products, and market reach. Strategic decisions are also needed to improve the bottom line , which includes cost-cutting measures. An internal assessment revealing high spending on travel, for instance, may lead to travel policy changes, such as hosting video conference calls instead of on-site meetings, or opting for less expensive transportation modes. 

Management can implement similar cost-saving initiatives by outsourcing non-core work, such as billing, accounting, financials, technology operations, and customer service. Strategic partnerships needed for these initiatives are a part of business development.

What Should a Business Developer Know?

Since business development involves high-level decision making, the business developer should remain informed about the following:

The business development scenario discussed above is specific to a business expansion plan , whose impact can be felt by almost every unit of the business. There can be similar business development objectives, such as the development of a new business line, new sales channel development, new product development, new partnerships in existing or new markets, and even merger and acquisition  (M&A) decisions.

For example, in the case of a merger, significant cost savings can be accomplished by integrating the common functions of the manufacturing, finance, and legal departments of the two firms. Similarly, a business operating from five different offices in a city can be moved to a large central facility, resulting in significant  operating cost  savings. However, would this lead to employee attrition, if the new location isn't convenient for everyone? It's up to the business development team to assess such concerns.

In essence, business development involves high-level decision-making based on a realistic assessment of all potential changes and their impact. Through new ideas and initiatives, it aims to improve the overall business prospects, which drive the functioning of the different business units. It is not sales; it is not marketing; it is not partnering. Instead, it is the eco-system encompassing the entire business and its various divisions, driving overall growth . 

While it's common for startup companies to seek outside assistance in developing the business, as the business matures, it should aim to build its business development expertise internally.

The Right Fit for Business Development

A business developer can be the business owner(s) or the designated employee(s) working in business development. Anyone who can make or suggest a strategic business change for a  value-add  to the business can contribute towards business development. Businesses often encourage employees to brainstorm innovative ideas, which can help in improving the potential of the overall business.

Businesses also seek help from external  incubator firms ,  business development companies (BDC) , and small business development centers (SBDC). However, these entities assist in business establishment and the necessary fine-tuning only during the early stages of business setup.

What Drives Business Development Activity?

Due to the wide-open scope of business development and activities, there are no standard practices and principles. From exploring new opportunities in external markets to introducing efficiencies in internal business operations, everything can fit under the business development umbrella.

Those involved in business development need to come up with creative ideas, but their proposals may prove to be unfeasible or unrealistic. It's important to be flexible. Employees charged with business development should try to seek out and take constructive criticism, and remember that it's a process.

Business ethics involves implementing appropriate and fair practices regarding issues such as corporate governance, insider trading, bribery, discrimination, corporate social responsibility, and fiduciary responsibilities. Laws and regulations often set the standard for business ethics, which companies can then choose to follow and build on in order to earn trust and loyalty from consumers and market participants.

New business development is important for generating jobs, developing key industries, and keeping the economy moving forward.

Development executives need to have leadership skills, vision, drive, and a willingness to work with a variety of people to get to a common goal.

Having a vision and putting together a good team are among the factors that help predict success in business development. But a successful developer also writes a good business plan, which becomes the blueprint from which they build their success.

A business development plan, or business plan , describes what a business's objectives are and how it intends to achieve them, including goals, start-up costs, and targeted milestones.

Business development may be difficult to define concisely, but it can be easily understood using a working concept. An open mindset, willingness for an honest and realistic self-assessment, and the ability to accept failures are a few of the skills needed for successful business development. Beyond the ideation , implementation, and execution of a business development idea, the end results matter the most.

The brightest minds in business development should be ready to accommodate a change in order to achieve the best results. Every approval or disapproval is a learning experience, better preparing these professionals for the next challenge.

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Business Development Strategies

Jesal Shethna

Introduction to Business Development Strategies

Business Development Strategies…. Errr… What is that? Is it related to sales? Is it related to partnerships? Is it a tiring job? Can I do it? Is it related to target achievement ? Lots of unanswered questions….. Let’s try to find an answer to these queries.

Business Development Strategies is a combination of numerous individual tasks that aim to implement and develop growth opportunities either within the organization or between two or more organizations. It is related to the all-round development of a particular business which makes it enriching and fruitful. It is a mixture of commerce, business and organizational behaviour theories. Business development deals with establishing long-term value factors for an organization from the point of view of markets, customers, and their interrelationships .

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In recent times, there is a new job profile of a Business Development Executive whose function has evolved as the business world has transformed into the global economy. This job profile represents a pivotal role in increasing the amount of business for a particular company.

What is Business Development?

It is defined as “processes and activities concerned with analytical preparation for probable growth opportunities, which does not entitle decisions regarding strategy for implementation of growth opportunities but supports the strategy for implementing growth opportunities. ”

The basis of Business Development is about creating the long term value or a long term positive image of an organization in the minds of customers, stakeholders , markets and so on. The process of business development is all about identifying these interconnected networks, which will create new growth opportunities.

Long Term Value

Business Development Strategies are not about creating values that will vanish in a matter of seconds. It is all about creating suitable opportunities for that specific goodwill to retain for a long period of time. The concept is that the gates should be open so that there is a free flow of values. Stabilizing the business development platform by strengthening the long term value is the only way for organizational growth.

History of Business Development Strategies

In practical life, the term Business Development Strategies has evolved into several applications and usage. In this age, the tasks of business developers are very varied and interesting. It has a wide application group starting from IT professionals to engineers , from marketing management to prospective clients. Recent research has pointed out the correlation between emerging business development solutions to an innovation management process. The business development function has evolved into a more matured, highly technical function, especially true in the Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical industries. History specifies that business development can be traced back to the Industrial Revolution period.

Sales vs Business Development Strategies

It should not be confused with sales. The process of sales is based on driving revenue or the generation of profits. The sole intention of sales is the handover of items, thereby maintaining a profit margin. On the other hand, business development identifies and creates new partnership avenues that help indirectly to drive revenue. The sales function deals only with the output, whereas the business development process deals with the entire journey.

Course Curriculum

Business Development Strategies is essentially a marketing function, though it involves some minor sales skills like negotiation. Typical goals of business development strategies include market expansion, brand projection, new client acquisition, general awareness about a brand, etc.

The function of sales is to sell products or services directly to the end-user or client. Simultaneously, the function of business development strategies is working through the channels or partners to make sales happen to clients.

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Business Development strategies diagram

10 Awesome Business Development Strategies

Business development strategies are everywhere, and lots and lots of ideas are there which can be exploited on a commercial basis. These fresh ideas can be harvested, launched and thereby marketed properly. Anyone can get awesome ideas at any point in time. Ideas can be large, small, big. Ideas are usually driven by a passion for one’s area of interest. A new idea may be borne from an existing situation or from the innovative mind of a thinker. The business owner can also observe two different disciplines and blend them smoothly, giving birth to a new business innovation field.

Business Development strategies

1. Recruit the right personnel at the right time

A person can have a great degree of knowledge and a strong network that is eager to close deals with clients. But it can be harmful to a company’s well being. Sometimes the marketing team emphasizes only on lowest prices. They forget to pay attention to engineering and quality aspects. This casts an ill effect on the company’s reputation. The effect will depend on the company’s life cycle. There are three life stages in a company’s life, and not every employee is suited for every stage. The three life stages are-

2. Look for the right opportunity

The contacts with whom you are dealing must be cross-checked as well. Dealing with the right person is very important . This practice leads to unwanted wastage of time. It is essential to identify potential clients with whom you can do business. Scanning of the market for fruitful associations is vital before starting dealing with prospects. If this step is omitted, you will find that you are already drained out, yet no positive associations have been made. Focus on those clients who actually matter to your business rather than digging your head in unwanted ones.

3. Stop talking too much

When you are speaking for more than 50 percent of the time, you are actually talking 10 times excess. Your job is not to blurt out everything, but understand and probe the client’s perspective, his problems, issues, type of work done, time is taken, etc. Be an active listener if you really want to develop your business. You will always be a favourite vendor in a competitive economy if you hone your listening skills.

4. Focus on your client’s requirement

Don’t present what you are offering. Present what the client needs. Do not talk about your offerings; instead, listen carefully to the client’s requirements, preferences. If you listen carefully to your clients, you can modify your own pitch to match the client requirements, which in turn increases client satisfaction rates. Always pay keen attention to the clients’ issues to customize your offerings as per their needs. If a client fails to get what he desires, then the chances of doing business with him are minimized. He will not select you as his business partner and instead look for other prospective partners.

5. Be Important

It is a well-known idea that important people love to deal with other important people. Be active within your business associations. To be part of those organizations that fulfil your business needs and where you can interact with prospective clients. You can offer volunteer services to industry experts to gain visibility as well as to capture high-value targets. You can climb the corporate ladder to gather the desired prestige in your concerned industry. If you succeed in doing so, the successive orders are bound to flow in your company. Remember, people like to deal with the creamy layer or the winners in their respective areas of expertise.

6. Main motto: Client Satisfaction

There is nothing in the world that is worse than a furious client. Not only it spoils the relationship of yours with the client, but it is also harmful to your company’s reputation. Forget about everything else and fix your client’s problems first. Suppose you take quick action once your client’s complaints about an issue; you will make an enthralling impression on your client. You will get applause from your client, and your name will be circulated to your industry members. Remember to practice empathy when dealing with clients. Place yourself in your client’s position and feel his problem. By doing so, you will be effectively nurtured in your business.

7. Provide excellent service

After you successfully influenced your clients and got business from them, it is time to make them happy with your amazing services . Stick to the deadlines fixed with your clients. Be a perfect guide throughout the whole process. If you succeed in making your clients satisfied, they will be offering you repeat business and new business opportunities. Who knows, you may be rewarded with something exceptionally good.

8. Qualitative vs Quantitative approach

Many businesses focus purely on qualitative business value proposition and give less importance to the other factors. But this is not a wise idea. This plan has a high probability of failure and is quite difficult to achieve. There is also a minimal probability of the market to pay higher for a premium service. The market is not ready to spend extra bucks even if they get improved user experiences and better services. As a result, the quantitative aspect of the business increases the chances of success. Creating competitive lowest prices will surely attract more clients. This, in turn, will maximize your revenue generation.

9. Stop saying: I don’t have any time

Time management is a crucial skill that every business owner needs to know. It is all about prioritizing work. Important work needs to be done first, and less important jobs can be done later. You can also have a great business idea in the silliest of time. Managing your time wisely is one of the most crucial tasks, especially when you are a business start-up. Balancing time between operational activities and business development activities is an art that you need to master. This can be done only when you spent less time on useless stuff and allocate more time to vital tasks.

10. Innovation at its best

Innovation is the best way to be at the top of the competition. When you offer your clients something unique, then there is a high probability that your client will do business with you. Everyone prefers products or service that are new to the market. So why don’t you go out of the box and have some awesome ideas? Offer your clients something which no one is offering. Innovation may involve new methods, ideas, workflows, process flows which will be beneficial for companies.

The role of business development Strategies is extremely crucial in the first stages of a new business. This phase decides the fate of your business. If you do it well, you will taste success sooner or take your business in a downward direction. You need to identify the winning concepts for your business. You have to brainstorm ideas to be successful in developing your business. Start looking for new niches for promoting your products or services. You can also apply your skills to a new field which can be beneficial. You can also search for existing product lines and offer a cheaper version of the same product. When you are doing a mix and match of ideas, it won’t disappoint you in achieving your goals. Just be confident and be ready to RULE the world!

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This has been a guide to Business Development Strategies. Here we discussed the basic concept, history, and long-term value, with 10 awesome strategies in detail. You can also go through our other suggested articles to learn more –


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5 Essential Components for Business Development Strategy Plans

Business Strategy

Leaders in the business development world are not likely to share the exact same opinions when it comes to the definition of business development. While all leaders in the field are familiar with the task, specific roles and experiences can easily set a precedent for what exactly business development is to them. One of the more commonly recognized definitions of business development can be described as the process of using existing relationships, markets, and consumers for the purposes of long-term organizational value formation, or in more basic terms, the creation of long-term value for a business. 

Why Business Development Strategy Planning Is Valuable

The building blocks of a strong business development strategy can be utilized as a set of guidelines that can lead your team forward when looking to generate valuable prospects that will support the long-term goals of the business. If your business lacks a business development strategy, a significant amount of time and resources can be unnecessarily spent on prospects that lack the value your business is looking for. 

The number one goal of a new business development strategy planning is to grow your company. Promoting growth within your business is not always an easy task, but what you can gain from doing so can be very valuable. Below are a few of the many reasons why business development strategy planning is so valuable. 

Creating A Unique Business Development Strategy Plan

Below are the most important steps a business can take when looking to create a well-founded new business development strategy.

1. Defining Your Business’s Goals

When there is not a strategic business development plan in place, there is a much higher chance for key business objectives to slip through the cracks and not be achieved. 

Though well-defined goals are vital, these goals can cover a wide array of objectives. For example, business development goals can be related to the sales process or marketing process, internal, external, or many other things.

A great method to utilize when defining goals for your business is the SMART method. The SMART method is a great method for defining development goals that are actually achievable rather than being idealistic. SMART goals consist of goals that are:

When you have a fully realized understanding of the goals that you are aiming to achieve accompanied by realistic plans on how to achieve these goals, the probability of success can dramatically increase. Rather than focusing on the number of goals a business is trying to achieve, spend time focusing on the quality of these goals. It is more valuable for a company to work towards 5 important goals rather than 500 inessential goals.

2. Identifying The Target Audience Of Your Business

The first stage in creating the optimal business development strategy is a clear understanding of the business’s target market/target audience. Remember that if you as a business are trying to market to everyone, you’re not reaching anyone closely. An important thing to remember is that while a company does not need a large audience, they do need a high-quality audience. It is considerably easier for businesses to develop a successful marketing plan and new business strategy after these categories have been clearly defined.

Business development is not typically a process that happens quickly. This is why understanding how the developed relationships your business makes can lead to future sales. This is why fostering relationships with prospects that are a part of your target audience can be so valuable.

Those in the world of business understand that customers react better to personalized and informed business development strategies rather than ones that feel disconnected and impersonal. This is why in so many cases buyers tend to make their purchases from the company that they feel better aligns with them. Whether it be B2B or B2C, buyers want to know that what they are being sold aligns with their interests. 

3. Performing Quality Market Research

After your target audience is well defined, understanding their needs as much as possible can be very helpful. Before establishing a relationship with your target audience, these essential questions should be answerable:

Once there is an answer to these vital questions, understanding both your competitors and potential clients becomes more manageable. It is crucial to easily identify what sets your business apart from the competition. This is a competitive advantage, and clearly communicating your business’s competitive advantage to potential customers is key. 

4. Determining The Best Marketing Channels To Utilize

The following stage in the business development strategy is to set your overall revenue targets for the year and then understand which channels will best assist you in meeting those goals. 

Common marketing channels such as networking, advertising, and referrals are often the most frequently used in terms of business development strategy.

Anyone in the business world understands how important networking is. Networking can be described as exchanging knowledge, ideas, and information with other individuals, typically in an informal or social setting. While face-to-face networking is still prevalent among some, the transition to networking through social media sites has made connection-making more accessible than ever. Thanks to platforms like LinkedIn, you can connect with people start a dialogue without an in-person meeting. This solid business development tactic comes with pros and cons; while it is less time-consuming and less expensive, relationships can sometimes be harder to establish and maintain. 


While traditional paid advertising has its advantages, digital advertising is slowly but surely becoming the clear front-runner in terms of successful business development tactics. Digital advertising can be tricky, but what is so nice about these steps for creating a unique business development strategy is that by the time your business is ready for updates in advertising, your target audience will have already been clearly defined. Knowing your target audience is vital in the world of advertising. If your targeted demographic is more active on social media services, that’s where the advertising budget should point towards. 

Referrals are always welcome, and they can be a great channel to use when implementing a business development strategy. An existing relationship with a customer that is positive has the possibility to create a multitude of potential clients. But it is vital to remember positive relationships with existing customers do not guarantee referrals. Referrals are great but not always the most consistent channel to utilize. 

There is a wide variety of marketing channels that businesses can utilize when implementing a reliable business development strategy plan, and sometimes choosing which ones to focus on can become overwhelming. Essential factors to consider when choosing which marketing channels to focus on include (but are not limited to) budget, time commitment, and available resources. While not all of these factors can make or break a business development strategy plan, the more informed you are, the better equipped you become when it comes to tough decision-making. 

In order to be best prepared for all circumstances, there is value in reevaluating the plans your business has for marketing on a consistent basis. 

5. Establishing Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Key performance indicators (often referred to as KPIs) are a successful business development strategy tool as you can easily use them to quantify performance. The number one thing to remember with key performance indicators is that they need to be practical and attainable for them to work accurately. Once these KPIs are established, you can find many different software programs that will aid you in the tracking and measuring process.  

Summarizing The Components of A Business Development Strategy Plan

When understanding the differences between a business plan and a business development plan, remember that a business plan is more broad and foundational. In contrast, a business development plan should act as a more detailed blueprint for the success of business growth. 

The 5 steps for creating unique business development processes are:

A Great Business Development Strategy Plan Takes Time

The creation of a unique business development strategy can easily take your business to the next level. While the process can be seen as time-consuming for some, the benefits that can come from it are often unparalleled. Remember that you get what you give and that the more effort you put into developing a truly unique business development strategy plan, the higher the likelihood for success becomes.

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April 21, 2022

Want to create a strong pipeline of customers and contracts? Consider these pro tips for building a better business development strategy.

Business development can be one of the fastest ways to grow your business. It can also be one of the most time intensive. It typically requires focus, planning, stamina, and doggedness. Doing it right may pay big dividends; doing it wrong can be demoralizing.

Here are a few tips for effective business development that can help you hit the ground running.

9 Ways to Improve Your Business Development Strategy

1. know your competition..

It may not be enough to know the names of your competitors. Evaluate what they offer so you can help differentiate yourself from the pack. As the adage goes, don't define yourself by your competition. Analyze what makes you stand out in a crowd. You should obsessively work on this differentiation. This may be your most powerful business development tool. 

2. Add value and build trust.

Rather than going after people's wallets, consider going after their hearts. Business growth can come from adding value to every relationship , with prospective customers and existing customers. We can add value by providing information and knowledge, by being an advisor, by obsessing over treating customers right, both before and after the sale, and by having a reputation for great execution and white glove service.

This mindset and approach builds trust and goodwill, which are your calling card for business development. But building trust takes time. As Seth Godin  writes in his 2008 business leadership classic Tribes: We Need You To Lead Us , "People don't believe what you tell them. They rarely believe what you show them. [...] They always believe what they tell themselves." It's your public persona and your actions over time that will likely influence what people tell themselves about you.

3. Use testimonials wisely.

Testimonials can be a crucial part of establishing credibility in the initial stages when you court a new prospect. It can help to know a few tips in this area. For example, it may not be effective to use "one-size-fits-all" testimonials. Rather, you should tailor your testimonials to your prospective target. If you're dealing with a mid-sized company, for example, you should use testimonials from other mid-sized companies you've done business with, rather than from your largest customer. This taps into a fundamental principle of human behavior referred to as the Consensus Principle or Social Proof: We feel more comfortable in making a decision when the source of the information comes from people similar to us.

Also, beware of inundating your prospects with a large number of testimonials. It could look as though you're protesting too much. Only use testimonials that are authentic and have the ring of truth. Sometimes, when asking for a testimonial, the person writing it does so reluctantly to please you, but their heart is not in it. You can end up with a perfunctory, factory-style testimonial that savvy clients will quickly see through.

4. Keep an eye on online reviews.

Consumers often turn to online reviews to decide whether or not to do business with a local company. A 2021  survey by BrightLocal (based on the views of a representative sample of 1,124 U.S.-based consumers) shows that when browsing for local businesses, 77% of people 'always' or 'regularly' read online reviews.

Use Google Alerts or content monitoring services to track and respond to these reviews when necessary. It can help show that you care about your business and about the people who use your services or products. A caring attitude may engender goodwill and attract new business .

5. Ask for the business.

After you've met with your prospect, submitted the proposal, done all the due diligence, and followed up, consider closing that phase by unabashedly asking for the business. Try a simple: "I would very much like to provide this service for your company. What will it take to get started?" This "let's do business together" approach is direct and honest, and can signal your confidence in the value of your service or product. It's refreshing. What's more, it can give your prospective client the opportunity to decline. It may be better to know this so you can refocus your energy and attention on the next potential customer.

6. Pay attention to your website.

Have you let your website slip? Does it look like it was designed a decade ago? In this visual world, design matters. It's fair to say that most of your customers may start with your website. A tired looking site will almost certainly result in missed opportunities. At a minimum, you can add a video to showcase what you do.

As for your content, your website may not thrive if it just provides information about who you are and lists your products and services. Consider rewarding visitors who land on your site with ample free resources, information, knowledge, and tools to help them succeed. Make it easy for them to share the resources with others without having to fill out forms or deal with constant pop up windows and other annoying interruptions. This is passive business development that will possibly pay dividends and doesn't cost you anything.

7. Don't let relationships go cold.

Many business sales gurus emphasize the importance of repeat customers . It may pay to focus the bulk of your business development efforts on strengthening relationships with existing customers. Value the relationships and keep your loyal customers engaged.

There are many ways to engage with customers periodically. Consider using alerts to monitor the web for news about your clients, so you can know what's happening in their world and react as you see fit. Share useful content on a regular basis. Send a note on special occasions such as birthdays or anniversaries. Connect with your clients on social media and keep in touch with them with “likes” or thoughtful comments on the items they post. There's no exact science on how often you should connect with a client, but one rule of thumb for maintaining top of mind awareness with your clients is to show up on their radar once a quarter. You can also engage with clients peripherally by establishing your own social media presence.

8. Beat your competitors to the punch.

Another piece of prevailing sales wisdom is that buyers often choose the vendor that's the first to respond to them. Inertia is not your ally. Make your staff aware that business development is everyone's business so that a prospective client receives a swift response. Speed can make the difference between winning and losing.

9. Sharpen your business development skills.

Hone your skills in business development. Today, there are many convenient options for busy leaders to develop their skills in this crucial area of business success. For example, you might join an online class, download a business development app, or register with a business development association in your area.

How To Create a Business Development Strategy for Your Business

The objective of a biz dev team should be to find prospects, nurture that relationship, and escort leads towards sales teams to close the deal. For each of those three steps, there are many ways to achieve business development goals.

Finding Prospects

There are plenty of services that promise qualified leads. But don’t overlook the power of your own network. Mapping your business's established network through social platforms or using tools to scrape emails and connect names to company org charts can be an initial data-led approach. You can also use manual search to identify needs across your industry's landscape to discover new leads. Comment marketing—the practice of responding with helpful answers in active online communities—can be a great way to demonstrate your expertise to potential customers.

Nurturing Leads

Nurturing leads means keeping in regular communication, whether in person, over the phone, or through emails. Whatever your strategy, keep it personalized to the leads' preference, including how often you reach out. Be sure to track the amount of contact you make, so you don't risk forgetting a lead or exhausting them with your sales pitch . Consider setting up regular calls simply to discuss their current challenges and needs at work, and be prepared to provide guidance beyond your company's core competencies. After all, an effective business development leader isn't just selling, but is working to build trust and authority that the lead can rely upon. When that level of trust is reached, you'll have a higher chance to bring your lead into the sales funnel, where your relationship will serve as the foundational element.

Connecting Leads to Your Sales Team

The final step in the business development cycle should poise your sales team for an easy win. Your understanding of the client's need will shape the pitch, where even your personal understanding of your target can help set the tone and pace of the proposal. While your goal is to advance a lead to sales, your work with the client should mean only qualified leads—those matching client need with your business's products and services. Staying abreast of the industry in parallel with your lead's conversations about their needs supports the idea of a full business development cycle. And once the lead earns a sale, your relationship with the lead continues—especially when they move roles to different parts of their business or find a new job. Your personal connection to the lead will push them back into your business development strategy.

A version of this article was originally published on September 22, 2015.

Photo: American Express

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