The art of business development is identifying and creating relationships that lead to increased revenue for your business.
Relationships may include business organization memberships, partnerships between one or more entities or simply one-on-one referral relationships.
For most successful businesses, business development is a combination of all the above. Here are 10 business development activities you should be doing today.
- Ask for referrals, from your clients (current and former), non-competing peers, friends, neighbors and other influencers in your network. Acknowledge your appreciation by thanking all of those who refer business to you.
- Join an organization (i.e., Rotary Club, industry/trade association, local chamber of commerce, etc.) where your target clients are likely to be members.
Get involved with the organization, beyond just attending meetings. Join a committee, become a leader in the organization and network often with members.
Once members get to know you and build a relationship with you, they are likely to contact you when they’re ready to do business.
- Become a good networker. Networking is about getting to know others and their needs so you can connect them to potential clients and influencers that will help their business grow. They will return the favor!
- Become a good social networker. Create business accounts and participate in the big social media sites (LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter). Publish great content that is helpful, informative, insightful and relevant to readers. Engage with your followers.
- Always carry current, clean and organized business cards in ample supply.
- Use easy-to-review infographics as part of your sales arsenal. Infographics are memorable and easy for prospective clients to refer to when calling you for more details.
- Remember important dates, including client business anniversaries, vacation trips, births and other important happenings in your network’s business and life. Keep a calendar to help you remember to send them a short note or bring it up in conversation when you see them.
- Host an open house at your business. Invite an eclectic group of people who will benefit by meeting and conversing with each other.
Think of helping others to connect with prospective clients and influencers, as well. Develop a brief welcome to “break the ice” and get the conversations started.
- Have a clear understanding of your business offerings and be able to confidently and concisely share at a moment’s notice.
- Be curious. Get to know your prospective and current clients, their goals, their fears and their reason for existing in business. When you know them, you are in a great position to help them.
One additional note: Remember Alliant National is a great resource to advise and educate independent agents on business development best practices.
It’s a challenge, and very time-consuming practice, to continually create original content to promote your business. The good news is, you don’t have to recreate the wheel every day!
There are numerous ways to re-purpose your existing content that makes it interesting and attractive to readers. Read on to learn how.
- The worst example of a bad digital content strategy is not having one at all. If you have good content, then you owe it to yourself and your organization to build a strategy that will activate it to help achieve your goals. Otherwise, what good is it?
- New research from loyalty and marketing agency Customer Communications Group (CCG) shows marketers three ways to recycle content marketing and conserve resources while keeping the content funnel full.
Guide your business toward meeting your objectives and goals.
You have a marketing plan, right? All businesses need to have a strategic, logical plan that includes action items and timelines. The marketing plan will guide your business toward meeting your objectives and goals. What’s that? You don’t have a working marketing plan? No worries. Read the tips below to create a winning marketing plan for your business.
A well-executed marketing plan is like a GPS. It guides your customers into your sales process. Done right, your marketing should result in more leads, higher sales and a stronger brand.
The marketing department can be referred to as one of the lifelines of any business. In this respect, spending your time, resources and efforts on your marketing plan and strategy is essential. There are various aspects of a marketing strategy that require focus and planning that collectively can ensure you are presenting your services to your target market in the best possible light.
Why you? What makes you special? What makes you different? What makes you better?
When you speak or write about your title company do you bring up what is different and better and trigger immediate interest? Do you elaborate on what is new, unusual and of great value to your customers? Or do you speak and write about what is ordinary and common and trigger immediate indifference to your value?
There are fundamental principles of economics at work here. The simplified explanation is that people assess value at the margins or edges of common offers. It’s called the Principle of Marginal Utility and Marginal Value.
For example, when you see an ad for a new smartphone does the ad inform you that you can store telephone numbers and text and email people from it? Or does it focus on things that make the smartphone an extraordinary camera, with face ID, and with uncommon face recognition that allows you to mirror your expressions in 12 Animojis so you can reveal your inner panda, pig or robot?
Whenever we as human beings are introduced to something NEW we are hardwired to make an assessment of its value. That’s what you want to do with your sales conversations and the content on your website and social media – provide compelling explanations about the extraordinary value of what you offer that your competitors do not offer.
So are you speaking and writing about your differentiatiors and separating yourself from your competition or are you speaking and writing about what is common and ordinary and triggering people into an assessment that your company is ordinary and should be “priced” (low) to differentiate itself?
When you are common you are priced. Margins are low. So you have to focus on VOLUME. When you are different and your customers value that difference, margins are higher. You can focus on VALUE instead of volume and think of ways to increase your customers’ willingness to pay a premium by inventing new ways to enhance the customer’s experience.
It’s more than just a buzzword or a banner on your office wall. How do you make your customers the center of your business operations, culture and reason for coming to work each day?
How do you make it your sole focus to anticipate and take care of their needs? How do you create a base of loyal fans who refer you to everyone they know?
Of course, you do need to display your customer-centric core values prominently on your walls and make those values part of your daily vernacular at work.
You also need to immerse those values into your company culture every day. Make those values come to life in the eyes of all employees.
One way to bring the values to life is by tying them to employee performance within your company. Options for marrying performance to a customer-centric value system include:
- Creating a customer survey process and inviting customers to review employees based on a number of metrics (all tied to your customer-centric core values);
- Create a “living the values” award and ask employees to vote for their peers;
- Develop a “secret shopper” system to periodically test employee responses to typical customer requests;
- Build the customer-centric core values into each employee’s annual review rating guide.
Another key means to bring those customer-centric values to life is to lead by example, such as:
- Make the values at least a small portion of every single internal meeting in your company;
- Follow the customer-centric approach you’ve created—for your external customers and internal customers (aka employees);
- Make yourself available and approachable any time an employee has a question related to the core values;
- Create a “daily devotional” core value email to hit employee inboxes at the start of each work day;
- Communicate best-practice examples when you see other employees “living the values” during their daily jobs;
- Offer constructive feedback when you see opportunities for employees to improve on their customer-centric approach.
Additionally, research shows time and time again that employees stay in jobs where they feel connected, valued and engaged in meaningful work.
Breathing life into customer-centric values, along with the tips offered above, offer employees that chance to feel like they belong. Research also shows that happy employees provide the very best customer service.
So, remember that your customer-centric core values statements are just that—words—until you bring them to life with action.