If business development efforts are consistently slow-going, there’s a good chance the issue is related to smart targeting. Specifically…the lack thereof.

Here’s a quick exercise. Pull out your business development plan and check for two things:

  • that name of an individual is connected to each action item in the plan — company names and industries don’t count;
  • each action item is relevant to getting you face-to-face with either individuals who will advance your pursuit OR with a hiring authorization.

If you’re light on the first, and/or there’s a lot of activity that doesn’t eventually map to a decision maker, we may have identified the problem: your plan isn’t target-driven…which means you’re stuck hoping your efforts connect.

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, a visibility opportunity or an outright recommendation;
  • provide you with business intelligence and / or “coach” you on how to reach key individual(s).

Successfully building a practice begins and depends on the nuts-and-bolts-work of strategic actions — 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 informs content development.

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 a can be 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.