One of the quickest ways to expand a growing business is through business development. However, it can also be time consuming. Those who are successful business developers are quite adapt at planning, focus, are persistent and can maintain focus. When you’re able to stay on task, business development can be quite rewarding, however, those who are not successful can experience devastation.
To ensure you have the best opportunity to succeed, follow these tips for being effective with business development.
Stay ahead of the Competition
Buyers typically select vendors and retailers who are the first to reach out to them. With business development, following the lead of others is not a recipe for success. It’s important that everyone on your team is fully aware of this fact. By doing so, you’ll be certain that all employees can forward prospective leads to the appropriate contact. Here is a tip to consider – create a plan for efficiently forwarding contacts so you don’t miss any opportunity for business growth.
Build Trust by Adding Value
Instead of reaching for wallets, consider capturing the hearts of future customers. Relationship building is a vital component of business development and is typically accomplished by adding value for each interaction. Value can be created through knowledge and information, treating customers with respect, advising them and answering questions, during and one the sale has been completed. Many businesses call this white glove service, and it’s another important component of successful business development.
When you create this mindset with each interaction with current or potential customers, you’ll be able to establish goodwill and trust. However, developing trust is a marathon – not a sprint. The relationships you’ll create, and actions taken overtime will improve your public persona.
Keep Relationships Warm
It’s a statement of fact that repeat business spends more than the first-time consumer. In fact, most small business owners capture most of their sales each year from repeat business. As such, spending more time on increasing relationships with existing customers may pay dividends in the end. The key is to build on existing relationships – don’t let them go cold.
Here are a few ways you can engage and connect with existing customers on a continual basis. First, share content that is relevant and useful consistently. Send emails to customers during special events, like anniversaries, birthdays or other important dates. Use social media to engage and connect with customers, while keeping them updated and entertained. While there is no proven methodology for how many times you should engage with current customers, a good best practice is at least once per fiscal quarter. It is also important to review your insurance options.
Be Aware of Reviews Posted Online
The internet has made complaining or promoting business easier than ever. In fact, customers today are more likely to make decisions about shopping or working with businesses with a positive online reputation. In most cases, the information they receive is based on public reviews posted by previous customers. Today’s consumer is more protective about where they choose to spend their disposable income. When they read a negative review online, they are less likely to be attracted to that business.
It’s a good idea to set up online alerts with popular search engines like Google that will permit you to be notified when your company receives a new review. It will permit you to address their concerns directly, and possibly clarify any miscommunication or correct minor errors before it turns into an internet black eye. However, this action also shows future customers that you care about your business reputation, which helps to establish trust.
Make Wise Decisions About Using Testimonials
Several consumers also make decisions based on consumer testimonials posted on your website or other online sources. It’s important to use testimonials that are passionate yet are 100% factual and based on actual experiences. In some instances, when you ask someone for a testimonial, they comply just to make you happy. The result is a testimonial that seems ‘canned’ that smart consumers will notice.
Focus on Website Content & Design
A company website is a brands online persona. If it looks like it was developed in the late 1990’s, consumers will likewise take notice. Since most new customers research a business online first, the quality and cleanliness of your website is of utmost importance. When the website is slow and hard to navigate, it likewise makes a bad impression. Therefore a crucial business development skill is to pay attention to the look, feel, and layout of your website.
When it comes to content, it’s important to add more than just the facts. To build business opportunities, consider offering multiple resources, or practical information about the type of business services or products you sell. Arm your web traffic with knowledge and you’ll develop trust. You’ll also have a strong starting point to create solid relationships that last. Improve sharing opportunities, by adding tools and apps to the site that don’t require multiple pop-ups, or forms to fill out. This is a prime example of what’s referred to as passive business development, and it’s a powerful tool and technique that pays huge dividends with very little investment.
Earn the Business by Asking for It
One of the most difficult things for anyone to do is ask for help. For the proactive business owner, once you’ve spent the time building the relationship, sent proposals and completed the research, the next task is sealing the deal. You’d be surprised how effect a simple, “What can I do to earn your business?” It’s the basic “let’s work together” honest and direct approach that is quite effective in today’s less than transparent business world. People respect this type of openness and honest. It’s also a great way of finding out if your prospect is in or out. If they are not interested, it gives you opportunity to seek other business.