Business development is not complicated.

Hard work? Indeed…because it is, at its core, about succeeding at relationships…and we all know that almost anything having to do with relationships is hard work.

But the quest for formulas, fast-fixes and a magic planning template notwithstanding, biz dev success does not reside in a silver-bullet or one-size-fits-all solution.

Strategically sound plans and solid processes are critical tools, to be sure; both increase efficiencies and facilitate accountability.

But the foundation of effective business development relationships is precisely the same as it is in a more personal context — a relentless focus on your target.

Getting BacK To Basics

Business development in the professional services arena is a simple process:

1. Identify a Target.

2. Determine what your Target cares about.

3. Think about and work on the relationship (speaking to what your target cares about) every day, for as long as it takes.

Not a complicated process. Yet, we struggle mightily; and when we don’t give up, we seem to exercise creative genius when it comes to finding ways to complicate, over-think and sabotage our efforts.

Here are a few thoughts on how to keep it simple, and on track.

Step one — Targeting — means letting go of the ever popular all-things-to-all-prospects strategy. Targeting involves a proactive, strategic pursuit.

It is an acknowledgement that waiting on the market to beat a path to your door is a slippery slope to irrelevance.

It is built on the realization that reacting does not constitute a viable go-to-market strategy.

Targeting is about learning what a prospect might care about; what precipitates sleepless nights.

An effective business development plan is about connecting the dots between what your target cares about and what you can do to help. That’s it. The best plan highlights the value you bring to your strategic relationships — whether referral source or hiring authority.

Spin it, complicate it and if-and-or-but it all you want; relationships that endure — professional or personal — are about listening, learning, investing time, and meeting needs. Do this, and trust develops. And the relationship grows stronger.

Try building a practice without identifying targets and you’re going to be frustrated, at best.

Are there skill sets, tools and more sophisticated processes that will help? No doubt.

But anyone serious about business development can realize success with attention to this simple process. Those who find a way to personalize it, and incorporate it as a daily routine are the ones that make it rain.