Business Development Requires a Multitude of Skills

Business development is one of the functions that every company, from inception to exit, performs at one time or another. It’s also one of the most “unbounded” roles within a company. For some companies, business development means acquiring new customers. Others, it means raising capital. And, for yet another set of people, it means to build alliances and partnerships.

Whatever the term ultimately means to anyone, it is a function that clearly requires a multitude of skills. Let’s take for example, raising money. A business development person in a small startup company would be responsible for building relationships to raise venture capital and/or general financing for startup operations. Oftentimes, the reason this function falls under business development is because the business developer is building strategic partner relationships. Some of these strategic partners deem the relationship critical to grow new business opportunities. In that respect, the strategic partner will then invest money in return for an equity stake in the startup company.

In the case of building and managing partnerships, the business development team is often called Alliances. In this example, business development or Alliance is responsible for recruiting, managing, and supporting partner companies. In addition to this, the Alliances organization would also have a responsibility for driving a certain amount of revenue through the partners, as well. This alliance function essentially builds a core ecosystem around the host company. The ecosystem effectively allows the host company to be in more markets, capture certain geographic territories, or even drive more revenue than it could on its own.

Building joint ventures is also a form of business development activity. There are times when a company needs to work together on a specific business opportunity. The opportunity could be related to driving new business in a specific country or perhaps in a particular industry. The two companies would develop an operating agreement under which they will work together. Shared revenue and expenses, team alignment and sales targets are examples of agreements created as part of this joint venture relationship.

Driving sales is another function where business development is often categorized. This is especially true when a company is first starting off in business. Many small companies categorize their sales efforts as business development rather than sales. One of the reasons for this is because the territory is new or perhaps the product line is untested with customers. The business development group is responsible then for selling new business in an uncharted environment.

Corporate development is another function often interrelated with business development. In general, though, a corporate development function handles aspects of mergers and acquisitions for a company. Their role is to identify companies that have synergistic business models and would complement the host company. In many aspects, a corporate development officer for a company has similar skill sets and experience as all of the above organizational roles.

As one can ascertain, business development is a “catch-all” term that can encompass many different roles within an organization. That said, the skill set and experience for a business development executive is fairly broad. He/she must be versed in areas, such as building partnerships, strategy, technology, geographic markets, sales, and, of course, finance. In addition, understanding the specific industry in which the company operates is icing on the proverbial cake.

The business development executive is a key contributor to the success of a company. This individual, if used properly, can help create the very foundation on which a company operates.

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How To Get More Clients: Hire A Business Development Expert

If your business has been struggling to get more clients in the last few months or year then consider hiring a business development expert that can find the right joint venture marketing partners that can deliver hot leads to your sales team. Many businesses can find themselves in a rut where it’s really difficult to acquire new customers. A joint venture marketing partnership can be the right strategy to get moving forward again. A business development pro will understand the process of putting together a solid business deal that can grow your company. If you feel that building a network of business partners can help grow your business in ways that are unachievable by yourself then find the right consultant or individual that you can bring in-house and do the deals that will get your company more clients.

Hire the Right Person

Hiring a business development person is different than finding a sales person for your team. While a business development expert can always play the role as sales person the opposite is not always true. A person that specifically focuses on business development will understand how to communicate potential business deals to perspective businesses in the right manner. They will understand that it is critical that a strong relationship is forged between the individuals doing the business deal and the company employees that will be involved in implementing the partnership.

Hiring a consultant or consulting firm to act as a business development team for you company is a great route for many small businesses. Many business that do not have the internal man power and capabilities to identify, engage, and do the business deals necessary for growth can benefit from a consultant or consulting firm that has access to the business decision makers or the experience necessary to reach out to companies and develop the relationships required to put together a great business deal.

While a consultants hourly rate may be higher than you’re comfortable with a deal can be put together much faster by a professional than someone trying for the first time to structure a business partnership. Consultants often will require an hourly rate or fixed salary as well as some kind of bonus structure for placing deals together which may be a single payout for each business deal that is signed or a revenue share that is paid out over a period of time based on the amount of business that is ultimately generated from the relationships. Most consultants will not work for pure commission deals unless they believe that a deal can be put together extremely fast and will generate immediate revenue. Most will want a cash payment coupled with a bonus structure. Companies that want to execute business deals with larger fortune 500 type companies should always highly consider hiring an expert that has preexisting relationships with the company that you want to do a deal with. It’s common to hire a consultant for one specific business partnership.

Managing a Business Development Team

Managing a business development team member is similar to a sales team member in many respects. It is important that as a business owner you control and own the data that is developed by the team member by making them use the corporate customer relationship management system and uploading any data and reports on potential business partners to the corporate document server. Failing to do this a common problem with companies and their sales teams and even more so with business development professionals as the relationships they have and bringing to the table are often held tightly and not given up easily.

If you are hiring an outside consultant there may be specific clauses in the agreement about who owns what data. This is something to be aware of as it can be very frustrating to be a month or two in developing a new business partner and have a person leave and take the contact information and data with them leaving you in a tough place to continue. It’s critical to recognize that a business development team member is going to need to spend time out of the office meeting with companies, going to business events and other functions that may be fruitful in finding and meeting the right business partners, however if you are paying for someone to be at an event then make sure the business cards that are collected get scanned and retained by the company.

If you have decided that in order to get more clients your business needs to develop strategic business partners than consider outsourcing the work to a consultant or hiring a business development expert in order to speed up the process. Avoid taking team members off their existing duties or forcing yourself to forge the relationships by yourself and add more duties to your already exhausting schedule.

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How to Make Time For Legal Marketing and Business Development

One of the chief complaints I receive from the attorneys that I meet and work with is that they just don’t have time for legal marketing. While billable hours, day-to-day emergencies and time outside the office all add up, there are definite ways to go about making time for legal marketing and business development. The key is to think of it as an ongoing habit, not something to “make time for.” Rather than seeing marketing and business development as a burden, think of it as an integral part of your day-to-day life. The interesting thing about creating this kind of habit is that once you find the right system for your individual lifestyle it should simply become second nature.

The benefits to making time are numerous. Aside from building relationships with potential clients and referral sources, taking advantage of marketing and business development opportunities can help increase your visibility AND credibility in the legal arena and beyond. Writing articles and participating in social media help you create and build a personal brand-something that every lawyer should have. True dedication and time commitment can even bring you recognition as an expert in your chosen practice area or within a specific industry.

Below are a few suggestions and lessons from attorneys I’ve worked with, as well as my own observations and experience. Choose the path that make sense for you or adapt the suggestions to work within your own day, but give it a chance. Do something! The rewards you will reap are far greater than a 5-minute time commitment.

Multi-task. No one I know comes into the office and immediately gets to work. One solution to the time crunch is to fold your marketing and business development efforts into your morning routine. As you sit down to your desk with your morning coffee or tea (or breakfast…) browse through your contacts or referral lists and send a few emails; read a legal marketing blog; update your social media or even spend 10 minutes working on a potential article or speech. By 9 am you’ll have accomplished something solid and can focus the rest of your day on other endeavors. Alternately, you can do the same thing during a quick lunch at your desk or coffee break. You’d be surprised how far 10 minutes can go.
Save it up. One attorney I know has created a special folder in her email Inbox specifically for legal marketing emails. As the weekly or daily updates from the blogs and social media groups she subscribes to come in she simply directs them to the folder. Then, once a week she takes an hour out of her day to read through the week’s emails and respond to them accordingly. She’s able to keep up to date on legal marketing news and colleague updates, post articles and communicate about possible speaking engagements without disrupting the flow of her day.
End your day. A colleague of mine channels his efforts into work all day but integrates marketing into his nighttime routine. With the stresses of the day (and impending deadlines, phone calls and emails) over, he sets aside 15-20 minutes a night before bed to investigate marketing leads, send emails to potential referral sources and work on articles and social media.
Schedule it in… for the first month. If all else fails, treat legal marketing as a literal client. Put it on your schedule and make no excuses for not paying attention to it, just as you would a client. Whether it’s once a week or biweekly, set aside specific time for uninterrupted focus. After the first month I can guarantee that finding time for business development will feel effortless.

Simple in theory but never easy in practice, without a true commitment you can never reap the rewards of a solid marketing habit. Filling your pipeline with work, receiving recognition as an expert and gaining credibility and visibility won’t happen all at once, but you can be sure they will happen. Just as with any other endeavor, it takes focus and time to see results.

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Effective Business Development Strategies for a Successful Business

Who doesn’t want to be the proud owner of a successful business? But it isn’t an easy thing to be the owner of a successful business. It needs some years of hard work and patience. Business developers play a major role in the success of a business. Let us now look at the three business development activities that the business development managers adapt for success in their business.

The business development activities are divided into three main strategies.

• Business development activities
• Enhancing public image
• Increasing market exposure

Business Development activities:

1. Market Research:

You should be having a detailed understanding about the position of your company and where it is heading towards, you need to do a research in the particular industry where you are in. There is a lot of information that you can find on the internet.

2. Competitive analysis:

Every company or business has its own competitors in the particular industry that it is in. Get to know the top competitors to your company. Always make sure to maintain a healthy competition.

3. Relations with clients:

Maintain contact with your regular clients and always try to know their feedback and stay in touch with them to understand their needs, requirements and keep them in mind.

4. Get new clients:

Know the main targeted audience or clients for your current business and try reaching them out and make them interested in it. Getting new clients will also be done when you satisfy your current clients sufficiently, the mouth to mouth word is a big thing that helps you in bringing new clients.

5. Networking events:

Always try to maintain a network. Always staying inside the office and trying to make huge plans and all is not going to help you alone. Try attending various events related to your industry which helps you in building a network.

Enhancing public image:

Building your company’s or business’ image among the public is the major thing that you need to concentrate on. You can try to influence the audience using various different ways and having a website of your own for your business or your company can be one of them. Creating a brand for your business by following various things that increase the brand value among the public. The office of your business should be very much appealing to the audience and the customers as it will also play a major role in influencing them.

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Business Development Ideas For Office Supplies Business

Any business development concept, irrespective of the nature of the business, demands an extensive thinking process towards defining the prospects, i.e., establishing a realistic vision along with a clear recital of what it takes to realize the chartered vision. The same theory applies to the office supplies business, wherein while planning a business development phase you must be very clear about your expectations and the time frame and resources you think you can spare. For instance, keeping in mind the long-term vision, while looking out for development venues and trying luck with ideas, it is important to market the need catered to by your product rather than the product itself.

Think about innovative marketing concepts that sell the need like, “Office supplies are your assistants who help you achieve what you desire. So buy your dreams and not mere products.” This is how your marketing strategy should work. Therefore, to start with, pick one strong proposition to market and differentiate and based on this unique idea take up the marketing initiative. The choices are many, like you could either cash on easier deliveries and convenience at your doorstep or alternatively your products could be more economic. However, do not try to cast about in all directions at one time. Be more specific in your approach.

While trying to develop, many businesses often encounter situations when few products are easy to sell while another selected category always seems to occupy your warehouses. A way to pass off your lesser-sold products is by combining them with other more-sought products. Introduce better combo prices and get rid of such lagging products.

Your target segment can be easily defined based upon the usage criterions. Age and other factors play no role. All that matters is usage and price. So in order to be affordable for all, you can categorize your offerings in a few racks, while one refers to the high-priced exquisite products and another could come under the value heading. This strategy works well because it creates an internal comparison among your products and customers choose the cheaper ones, thinking that they are getting a good deal. At the same time, a section predominantly opts for the expensive items and therefore is interested in your collection.

Other ways to market and grow your business could include advertising in the local newspapers (small black-and-white advertisement would do), getting some brochures printed, mailing to prospective clients, and sending out greetings and thank-you cards to regular clients.

Growing in an office supplies business is not a very tedious task, especially if you have the right vision in place along with a concrete strategy to take it forward from there. The above ideas will help you in this endeavor and, if deployed with perfect timing, can work wonders.

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