Here’s a quick exercise. Pull out a business development plan (it’s likely stashed in that lowest drawer), and comb through it for two things:
- the names of individuals that are the subject of the action items in the plan — company names and industries don’t count;
- action items specifically related to getting you face-to-face with a hiring authority.
If you’re light on the first, and/or there’s a lot of activity that doesn’t map to a decision maker, we may have identified the problem: your plan isn’t target-driven.
A business development initiative can definitely use killer events, award-winning advertising/marketing campaigns, and those sexy high-visibility opportunities. But if the goal is to build a professional services practice, an effective plan of action focuses on specific individuals — those able to:
- make hiring / purchasing decisions;
- connect you to the individual able to make the hire, via a referral or recommendation;
- provide you with business intelligence and / or “coach” you on how to reach the key individual(s).
If it eminates from smart targeting, each activity in your plan can be helpful, provided the arithmetic works. But successfully building a practice begins and ends with the nuts-and-bolts-work of strategic pursuits — action items calculated to put you face-to-face with the individual or team empowered to hire you or your firm.
Want to quit spinning your wheels, and develop some business? Create a plan with action items that are born of smart targeting.
You know all of those questions about where to go and what to do? Should we advertise here? Should we sponsor this? Do I write, or speak, or call, or stand on the corner with a sandwich board? Smart targeting provides a frame of reference for all of those questions — all of your activities and investments.
It results in a plan that you are much more likely to follow through
It informs content development.
It results in a plan that you are much more likely to follow through on! And it provides a way to keep score — to evaluate progress and measure the return on your investment.
This isn’t to suggest that it is easy. But, assuming your work stands up in the marketplace, the formula for success is relatively simple. It begins with thoughtful and strategic targeting.
Business development plans not rooted in the discipline of targeting are likely frustrating and costly exercises. If you’re wondering about your investment, continually seeming to start from scratch, and tempted by the latest silver-bullet, you may be engaged in the costly pursuit of the broad side of a barn — one that may not be home to a single viable target for your service.
On the other hand, spend a season in serious pursuit of a strategic target. It will revolutionize your business development efforts.