The key to effective business development lies in building trusting relationships with prospects and referrers. But you knew that already didn’t you? Let’s see how a sporting metaphor can help us find the inside track when it comes to best practice business development.
The pursuit of rapid results is a natural human reflex and yet if we think about it, quick results are rare in terms of winning the best clients and achieving sustainable, profitable business. Let’s think of it in terms of a marathon rather than a sprint.
In Business Development, Running a Marathon is Easier than Sprinting
Now, when it comes to running marathons, I’m in the majority of people who think it will be too arduous and time consuming so realistically it isn’t going to happen! Yet in reality, running marathons in a business sense is potentially much easier, at least physically. If we can master the art of mental persistence and marry that with a structured approach based on real life success stories, we can reach the finishing line a great deal stronger both mentally and physically.
Effective Business Development Starts with Networking
So let’s start with the subject of building business through Networking. Unless you’re selling cut price but genuine iPads at the moment, forget sprinting for the moment. Yet our instincts tell us if we get out there and network energetically, we can quickly build our business. Sadly there are parallels here with the myth of the free lunch. Be honest, have you ever said to yourself: “Well it was free, I met lots of new people and I think there are some promising leads”? Then you found nothing tangible did actually materialise? If you have, don’t worry you’re part of the 90% of people who do this and who keep repeating it or simply give up. It’s ok, like most of us, your parents or teachers probably told you “if you’re not getting the right results, you’ll just have to work harder”.
Sadly, although this is well intentioned advice, it’s hard to accept and is rarely the sole provider of better results. Perhaps you want to reflect on the way you engage with the people you meet when networking:
Experience shows that, effective business development from Networking actually comes from running a series of metaphorical one hundred metres several times over and in a much smarter way. Certainly not the same way every time on auto-pilot and certainly in a way that actually takes you forward towards your goal each time you do it. Even what you might consider as failure is in fact useful feedback and this is where persistence comes in. But persistence with a difference, if it’s not working, do something different!
Targeting the Right Networking Events
A great starting point is to ask yourself: “where do my ideal clients network?” Already that’s a hundred times better than, “maybe I’ll meet someone at this event and at least it provides a free lunch!” Sorry if you knew this already, I assumed you were like me and have given in to the natural impulse on more than one occasion! Or let’s assume you have also targeted the right events to attend or people to meet and had great conversations but it still didn’t actually lead you towards an exchange money for goods or services. Or maybe you did but unfortunately when you got back to the fifty emails, you didn’t manage to follow up effectively.
You can Significantly Influence the Results you Get
So it’s up to you. If you don’t want to be part of the majority of very busy networkers and proactive business developers who achieve disappointing results, find out what the smart minority do. They don’t consider themselves as marathon runners either but by breaking down their efforts into a series of short sprints which are part of a sustained programme through time, they achieve what they had wanted from the start. To learn more about effective business engagement: