As a small business owner, you're likely already juggling a lot of responsibilities. It can be tempting to put off business development until a later date; however, this can hinder your long-term growth and ultimately impact your bottom line. One way to understand the urgency is to envision your operational ability if you lost your biggest client - or a few key clients. Would you be able to make it? Do you know where your next clients are coming from?
We recognize that your current team may not have all the necessary skills or capacity, but you need your team to be able to support you in leading your growth strategy. Here are some strategies to get everyone on board with BD as you plan your next quarter or year.
Remember, you’re working with a team that already exists and has other daily tasks. How do you add to their already full plates? Ask yourself these questions:
Does the team have time for business development?
Is there a specific employee with extra capacity?
Do they have time for the outreach and the follow-up or the training to help address any gaps in knowledge?
If you think you cannot find any capacity, you have the option to outsource certain tasks to freelancers or contractors instead of hiring a full-time employee. This can help you get the needed support without committing to a long-term expense. Ultimately, the key is to be creative and strategic with your resources to continue growing your small business without overextending your team.
How to Help Your Team Find Capacity:
Evaluate your current processes and see where to streamline or eliminate specific tasks. Maybe some tasks are no longer necessary or could be combined with others to save time. Are you/your team sharing an email box for assisted follow-ups with new potential clients? Are you sending internal voice memos with details of how BD sessions went? Are you recording meetings so other team members can assist you with any necessary follow-up? Is your BD process fully developed in your project management system to ensure seamless hand-off of tasks and clear accountability?
How Can Technology Help Your Team:
Use technology to automate your business development efforts to help you get more done. This can include using customer relationship management (CRM) software, email marketing tools, and social media management platforms. Building automation into any platform can take a lot off your to do list when following up with potential clients.
Work with Your Network to Save Time:
Referral marketing has proven to be one of the most effective ways to acquire new customers and grow your business. Word-of-mouth referrals can be a powerful tool for small businesses. Set reminders to regularly reach out to satisfied customers and encourage them to spread the word about your business. If budget and time allows, you can offer referral incentives or ask for feedback that you can use in your marketing materials. Not only is leveraging existing contacts a savvy cost-effective strategy, but also you can tap into the power of word-of-mouth marketing.
Create Valuable Content to Market For You:
Produce high-quality content that educates your target audience and establishes your business as a thought leader in your industry. You can share this content or people in your referral network can share it for you. Avoiding advertising dollars with content increases your visibility with less resources, allowing others to talk about you and do some marketing for you.
Measure your results:
Finally, make sure you use analytics tools to track the effectiveness of your efforts and adjust your strategy accordingly (Helpful hint - most CRM tools can provide reports on these analytics, such as client conversion rate, so make sure that is a decision point in choosing the best system for you). Know what’s working for you, what isn’t, and focus your efforts where they are getting the best results.
Well-spent time and coordination on sales efforts now will make sure your pipeline doesn’t dry out and leave you scrambling to cut costs - or even reduce the size of your team. Invest in creating a plan and work together to share the burden. Together you will ensure the company’s growth for years to come.