Speaking to one of our agency clients the other day about how to improve their business development, we were struck by the fact that for many account managers the idea of business development – how you engage with new and existing clients so that they give you more of their budget – has entirely a numbers focus: how much revenue, by when, from whom. For them, business development is a budgetary function, rather than a tangible way of engaging with new and existing clients.

Now, far be it from us to disagree with our clients (!?), but that is not our experience of how best to grow your revenues and be successful at business development.

We know this to be true for our own business and the way we have grown over the past few years.

We also have the experience of helping clients, where when they have introduced a clearly defined and embedded business development process, they are so much more successful, than when they just have sales targets and budget goals.

Yes, the numbers matter; they set context and can be used to incentivise and measure progress. However, it is not the numbers that deliver the success. Rather, it is the business development process, talking to clients in a relevant and engaging manner, that creates revenue growth.

Our road-map for business development

The following, in our experience, is a high-level road-map for a business development process:

  • define your company’s USP
  • discern what will captivate the client
  • invest in your client-facing staff so they are confident and opinionated
  • create the content that establishes your credibility and creates client interest
  • secure the meeting and start to gain the trust of the client
  • build the relationship and rapport with the client
  • respond to the resultant RFP and ensure all the good business development process to this point is backed up with quality and commercially focused proposals, that reinforce your USP

Making sure that your client-facing teams understand, support and execute this process, every single time they want to win business from a new, or indeed, existing client, will deliver you really effective business development.

So, next time you are sitting in a meeting about business development, and it’s all about the numbers, think again. By all means, have the financial targets and the metrics, but don’t expect that their existence, in isolation, will somehow generate the revenue growth you desire or require. Build and trust a business development process.

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