"Never fear the want of business. A man who qualifies himself well for his calling, never fails of employment." Thomas Jefferson (1743 - 1826) I know you. You started your business because you are passionate about it. You're better than most, maybe even the best at what you do and yet clients and customers are not beating a path to your door.
In times of desperation you've even dramatically lowered your price and STILL you did not get your fair share of the market, the share you know you DESERVE! Sound familiar? Well let me share a little secret with you. There are four simple steps you need to follow in order to develop a thriving business. The Waterfall of Business Development Growing a thriving business is a lot like running a waterfall rapid in a kayak. Sure there are lots of ways to get over that waterfall but typically there is just one that will allow you to pass safely and smoothly, keeping you out of harm's way and having fun. When it comes to running the waterfall of business development you'll want to follow this path: Step 1: Get the Right Names Step 2: Have Conversations with the Right People Step 3: Hold Meetings with Qualified Prospects Step 4: Deliver on Expectations.
Profitably. Told you it was simple. Now let's get into the details. Step 1: Get the Right Names (Strategic Marketing) Do you know your target market? I understand that you'll take money from anyone, but on whom do you want to spend your precious marketing resources? This may see counter intuitive but the more tightly you define your target market the more effective and efficient you will be at attracting the most qualified prospects. So how do you go about defining your target market? There are many ways, but if we were to work with you we would begin by defining your specific goals and objectives and your unique value proposition (UVP).
Once your UVP has been defined we would develop your target market by matching the UVP to demographics, (size, industry) operating variables, (technology, frequency of use), purchasing approaches, (centralized, specific policies), situational factors (urgency, size of order) and personal characteristics such as attitude towards risk. Next, since no business operates in a vacuum, we'll evaluate the competitive environment and the macro-economic environment. From this we will have clearly defined those "suspects" that are worth investing your precious time, energy and resources with. Next we would develop a marketing strategy that uses the optimum mix of active and passive marketing approaches to generate sufficient interest in your offering. The optimum mix represents a balance between the target audience's potential life-time value and your available time, energy and resources.
Step 2: Have Conversations with the Right People (Prospecting) Your consistently communicated highly targeted marketing message will resonate with a portion of the "suspects" it reaches. No matter how that initial contact was made your next move is to have a conversation to determine which suspects are really "qualified" prospects. By qualified I mean they are in sufficient "pain" and are interested in meeting you face-to-face to discuss their issues and what you can do to relieve their pain. Depending upon your personality this initial contact, typically by phone, will range from being second nature to absolutely terrifying! Regardless, how effectively you conduct this initial contact will largely determine your overall success in developing your business. If you don't know what to ask, how to ask it, and how to get off the phone with a confirmed appointment then please seek professional help! Step 3: Hold Meetings with Qualified Prospects (Selling) Congratulations! Your prospecting activities have you set to meet with a highly qualified prospect. Now it's time for your first face-to-face meeting and it's time to begin the selling process.
Selling is about questioning. One of the most common mistakes I hear people who are passionate about their businesses make is thinking that selling is the same as spewing features and benefits. Are you guilty of this? If so, then please stop.
Selling is not about "telling"! Throughout this initial meeting your job is to gather information, not give information. By the time you leave this meeting you should at a minimum know: - The specific reasons (pain) why the prospect would like to do business with you - Roughly how much the prospect is willing to spend to get rid of the pain - How the prospect goes about making investment decisions. If the answers to these questions meet your requirements for doing business then chances are you are going to make the sale. Step 4: Deliver on Expectations.Profitably (Business Marketing) You've made the sale and now it's time to deliver on the expectations you created with your marketing message at the top of the waterfall.
You are an expert in your field, so this should be relatively simple, right? Not so fast! Do you have an accurate grasp of your; Cost of acquisition? Cost of product? Cost to serve? What type of pricing model are you using? Cost plus? Value? Competitive? Skim? Get this figured out and you now have a complete business development system. Well that's it! You've successfully converted a targeted suspect to a profitable customer and you did it by using the simple 4-step secret that I call the "Waterfall of Business Development." Diligently apply this process and you will indeed develop the thriving business that you deserve.
Scott Metcalfe is President of Empire Consulting,an authorized licensee of the Sandler Sales Institute. They help clients attract and close more business through their expertise in both strategic marketing and Sandler's process based selling model. Visit http://www.empire.sandler.com and while you're there sign up for his free, twice monthly enewsletter or call 630.762.1650.