Having a solid business development plan and lead management strategy are key to growing your business.
A couple weeks ago, I read a great article in Fabricating & Metalworking Magazine titled, “Staying One Up: New Ways of Doing Business.” The author, Mike Riley, discussed several ways in which companies could get a step up on their competition.
Although his article was aimed at marketing initiatives in the metalworking industry, many of his points were relevant to new business development (NBD) in material handling and other industrial sectors. Looking at a few of Riley’s key points, I was able to build some helpful insights for improving business development in the coming year.
1. Take a hard look at your operational activities
Riley — “Put your marketing under the microscope.”
I would suggest taking Riley’s point one step further by not only placing your marketing under the microscope but also your operational activities. Ensure you are a customer-centric company. Once this is done, efforts can be focused on better understanding each, unique business opportunity. This means focusing on connecting with potential repeat customers on a personal and emotional level. Companies that have grown to annual multi-billion dollar revenues have learned how important it is to connect with the client early on, and those companies will continue to grow as a result.
2. The Steve Jobs 10/20/30 Rule
Riley — “Seek presentation opportunities.”
When it comes to new business development, Riley’s point is an excellent way to get your foot in the door, but once you are presenting, make sure to be creative, well-spoken, and not overly geared toward selling. Following these guidelines will result in a presentation the client will enjoy and appreciate.
Before Steve Jobs passed away, he embraced the 10/20/30 rule in regards to PowerPoint presentations. This means for an introductory presentation 10 slides, no more than 20 minutes of PowerPoint, and size 30 fonts for text. Some presenters simply believe in using pictures or renderings as entire slides instead of using bulleted text. The idea is to converse and tell a story keeping in mind the goal is to create interest in doing business with your company rather than forcing people to believe that you are their best option.
3. Stay Abreast of new technologies and industry news
Riley — “Piggyback on hot news.”
Staying on top of the latest news is important, but in the material handling world, as in many industries, it’s important to stay abreast of the latest technologies and industry-specific news as well. In terms of new business development, figuring out what everyone is talking about and interested in gives you a much better idea of how to appeal to the needs, concerns, and wants of new clients. Find a way to read into the cutting edge topics, and make them relevant to what you can offer.
4. Ensure your database is accurate
Riley — “Develop a prospect database.”
Not only should companies develop a prospect database, they should make sure it is accurate and up-to-date. A database does no good if the information is outdated or incorrect.
There should also be a sales lead accountability system. According to Pew Research statistics, up to 80% of sales leads that come into any given company without a lead manager are lost. That is why it is so important to have a method of following up. It is imperative to enter information into a customer relationship management (CRM) tool and set reminders to follow up with new clients.
It doesn’t matter if you design material handling systems, manufacture products, or run a distribution center. Whatever field you are in, never be content or satisfied with your existing business. There are always ways to improve and attract new clients. Always be honest, polite, and respectful of your prospects, and ask yourself, “Why do I deserve more business?”
What changes do you have planned to attract new business in 2012?