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Checklist: 12 Ways To Be the Best Business Development Pro

Business development pros have a lot riding on their shoulders. The pressure is on to grow a company’s business through new deals and growth of existing accounts.

As you navigate through strategic analysis, financial statements, marketing and sales tactics, every account can be a critical play to improve your performance and the company bottom line – whether that’s your own company or someone else’s.

We’ve explored these 12 expert tips from across the business development world to get more out of your strategy and win more deals.

1. Know your “why”

“According to renowned speaker and author Simon Sinek, you should start with “why” before moving on to “how” and “what.” Sinek goes on to say, “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” … By addressing the “why” up front, you show prospects you are passionate about your job and organization, validating their questions about if a partnership would be worthwhile; after all, if you aren’t excited about your company, why should your prospects be?” – Vivial

2. Play the odds

“Focus on efforts that offer the best chance of success. When you are creating those schedules and goals, know where to spend your precious time. So often, it can take just as much time and effort to seal a $1,000 deal as it does to sell a $50,000 deal. Focus on deals and proposals that have the greatest potential for long-term success for you and your organization.” – IgniteHQ

3. Stay informed of industry trends

“Successful professionals monitor press for developments and opportunities. Clients and prospects respond very positively to proactive outreach and clearly demonstrated knowledge of the current industry environment.” – WM Ledger

4. Forge habits

“The ability to keep going is greatly helped when business development disciplines become habits. Strong BD disciplines of, for example, keeping in touch with at least five contacts each week create a habit – the intrinsic feeling of ‘this is how I do my business development’, and, more importantly, habits help you to get the results you want.” – The Results Consultancy

5. Script your elevator pitch

“It’s a 60-second summary of your company and what it does. Practice the pitch in front of a mirror or friends until you feel it comes naturally to you. Prepare a “part 2” to the pitch that’s about two minutes long. You want to be ready to respond when someone says “that sounds interesting, I’d like to learn more.” ” – Chron

6. Ask great questions

To get the most out of your client meetings, it’s your role to direct conversations that extract the right information. According to Hubspot, “Ask great questions. “The most successful new business people are those that can ask great questions,” said Dave Currie, president of The List. “Through their professional curiosity they ask great questions and listen with intent toward identifying and truly understanding the issues, the impact of those issues to the prospect’s organization in measurable terms, and the importance of solving that issue for the prospect now versus later.” Prospects are already educated about your agency, your services, and the competition, so the new business person needs to be able [to add] value to the conversation, not just restate what the potential client already knows.” – Hubspot

7. Make the client’s objective your number one priority

“Don’t sell what you offer. Sell what the client needs. By listening carefully to their requirements, you will refine your pitch and your product offering to make sure you are addressing their needs. One of our former salesmen would push stock material handling baskets because it was easy. No creativity needed. He did not make it. Our best salespeople engage the client and understand their challenges and provide solutions that are tailored to each one’s requirements.” – Inc

8. Make deals carefully

“There is a difference between doing deals and doing the right deals. A good dealmaker can help identify a false — signal  when there is just enough market momentum and revenue to mask the greater opportunity. Conversely, a less experienced dealmaker or one with the wrong incentives can generate enough momentum and distract the company from the bigger opportunity. Many companies have been weighed down by a bad deal they later regretted— this is where you want to develop a level of understanding and trust with your business development person.” – Mashable

9. Get legal counsel

“A legal agreement codifies a business arrangement and includes commercial terms as well as what happens if things don’t work out. This requires business development and legal counsel to assess the business opportunity vs. the business risk and explain the tradeoffs to management.” – American Express OPEN Forum

10. Keep your senses open

“Be it sight or hearing. You should use it all to get all the information about what’s happening in your industry. Sometimes only a small sale gets you blindsided and you lose your grip on the industry. You should always know what’s happening in your industry. When you know about the ups and downs of market, you will find the right opportunities to tap and also know when your business needs your extreme attention.” – Yodiz

11. Join the social media cocktail party

“Social media continues to account for a large and growing portion of online traffic. It’s a 24/7 virtual cocktail party where everyone is invited and anyone can say whatever they like about your firm and even you. … I’ve had terrific results with Twitter, attracting 23,600 followers to @LarryBodine. In my work, I have developed a large following of potential clients for law firms, legal publications and lawyer associations by posting several times a day and using popular hashtags. … I’ve actually met people on Twitter, they’ve sent me work and become friends, and we’ve met at conferences and gone out to dinner. Social media really works.” – Larry Bodine

12. Invest in your client retention

“Once you nail the big clients, give them amazing service. Meet your deadlines. Usher them through the process so they are enchanted with your performance and they will send you repeat business and new opportunities.” – Inc

“Cultivating client loyalty is one of the standby business development tips that sales people are likely to hear time and again because it works. Although a sales person will never reach top seller status solely by relying on repeat business, repeat business is one of the keys to selling success. Strong client retention can help you earn referrals to new business leads from satisfied customers, increase orders based on a past history of deliverables, and access cross-selling opportunities as new products and services become available.” – SalesForce Search


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