Business Development is to an SME as blood running through veins is to the human body. Business Development is vital for the sustainability and growth of a business. It is fair to say that most SME do not have strategies for Business Development in place.
So why is this? The term Business Development is largely misunderstood. It’s either described as sales, marketing or even networking/relationship building. In reality, it is a combination of all three initiatives in addition to customer retention. Business Development is about creating sustained long term value (liquidity and reputation/goodwill) from every interaction an SME undertakes and identify growth opportunities. So clearly business development is not just sales, or marketing or even relationship building as standalone activities.
Those SMEs who successfully identify the need of Business Development end up being impatient with regards to Business Development. It is not about hard sells and immediate gratification of signed service agreements. It is not about accepting NO as an answer and then moving on, but about keeping the doors open. Business development is about quiet persistence and about keeping all customers fully informed of initiatives.
Another key consideration about Business Development is that it is not just about securing new clients and markets. It is as much about sustaining and cultivating existing customer opportunities as much as it is about the new customer acquisition. Too many times, larger organisations and SMEs are guilty of ignoring their existing customer base and focusing all their attention on acquiring new customers. That is a classic example of a bad Business Development strategy. Yes existing customers are most likely bound by contracts which keep them tied in from leaving immediately, but it is the existing customer that will leave as soon as they can if initial promises have not been kept. If SMEs and large corporates focused on delivering on promises for existing customers, it is these very customers who will become vehicles of business development by way of singing its praises and referring additional business to the relevant organisation.
It is vital SME businesses create clear business development strategies which cover sales, marketing, networking, and retention.
Business Development is about being transparent at every stage of customer interaction.