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A New Business Development Primer for Growing Organizations

June 2008 Selling

Obtaining new business is perhaps the most critical concern for growing organizations – especially smaller entrepreneurial firms.  Realizing that both time and financial resources are at a premium, the Wiglaf Journal has developed the following
7-step primer to provide a new business development model and implementation plan.

Step 1 – Determine the goals and objectives of your new business development program.  What is your present capacity?  How much can you increase this capacity?  What further resources would be needed to accommodate new business?

Step 2 – Do a quick strategic analysis of your business and your capabilities.  What do you believe are your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.  What do you believe is your No. 1 distinctive competency based on your experience with past and present customers/clients.

Step 3 – Carefully review your past and present business relationships.  What kinds of businesses or industries seem to relate best to your capabilities and distinctive competencies?  What size business relates best?  What geographic locations seem to relate best to your capabilities?  What kind of client/customer management styles best mesh with your operation?

Step 4 – Critically examine and focus on those business relationships that have been successful for you and the most unsuccessful for you and determine WHY this has been the case.  What made the relationship so good or so bad?

Step 5 – Establish you “wish list.”  Put together a list of 25 potential clients/customers with which you would like to develop business relationships based on the conclusions you have reached through Steps 1-4.

Step 6 – Carefully research these 25 companies.  Learn everything you can about them.  Talk to business associates who do business with them or know about them.  Build a file for each one of them and determine who would the decision-maker in establishing a business relationship with your company.

Step 7 – Make an initial contact.  The best approach might be the direct approach – a telephone call to the decision-maker.   If you can provide a network member to make the initial introduction, all the better.  Even if all you can use is the network member’s name you can initiate your contact by saying, “Jack Smith suggested I contact you…” Tell that person that you have targeted his company as one that you believe you can help because of certain distinctive competencies that your firm possesses.  See if you can meet that person face-to-face.  If not follow-up the conversation with a letter or e-mail with linkages to your Web site (if you have one). Or, mail a packet of informative materials.  Make it clear from the outset that you would like to do business with the targeted firm and you would like a chance to prove what you can do to help them.

Step 8 – Continually and periodically follow-up with this prospect in an effort to maintain top-of-mind awareness.  Forward electronic and printed information that you believe the prospect might find interesting or helpful.  If you attend a conference where you learn something that might be helpful to that prospect, be sure to transmit that information to the prospect.  In every piece of correspondence indicate, in a non-obtrusive way, that you hope the prospect will consider you when help is needed.

Professional sales people agree that it generally takes somewhere between 7 to 11 “points of contact” to make a sale.  A point of contact is a face-to-face meeting, telephone call, e-mail or FAX.   The quicker you can get to that 7-11 threshold, the more likely you are to establish a relationship.

Finally, bear in mind that all of the companies on your “wish list” are probably being served by your competitors.  However, relationship become strained or frayed over time.  Your persistence and top-of-mind awareness will enable the prospect to know that you are “waiting in the wings” and might just give you that opportunity to prove yourself.



About the author

James T. Berger, Managing Editor of The Wiglaf Journal, through his Northbrook-based firm, James T. Berger/Market Strategies, offers a broad range of marketing communications, research and strategic planning consulting services. In addition, he provides expert services to intellectual property attorneys in the area of trademark infringement litigation. An adjunct professor of marketing at Roosevelt University, he previously has taught at Northwestern University, DePaul University, University of Illinois at Chicago and The Lake Forest Graduate School of Management. He holds degrees from the University of Michigan (BA), Northwestern University (MS) and the University of Chicago (MBA). Berger is an often-published free lance business writer who has developed more than 100 published articles in the last eight years. For more information, visit www.jamesberger.net or telephone him at (847) 328-9633.

James T. Berger
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