This week’s instalment is brought to you by our Director of Sales & Marketing, Debra Tracy.
Debra was keen to discuss the topic of business development during a pandemic, and potential solutions that could assist business development during such a challenging time for many business owners.
To BD or not to BD?
I have noticed the current economic climate has created debate around whether or not businesses should be trying to develop new business and how this should be done. Essentially, I feel this is quite simple, it is vital for the survival of businesses, and wider economy, that sales continue, and cash keeps flowing between businesses. What really needs to be considered is the way in which businesses approach business development, which to be honest is something that has been on the radar for the last few years. What I mean is, businesses should be helping and adding true value to their clients/potential clients, not attempting to approach sales aggressively, especially now.
It goes without saying that businesses should not be attempting to profiteer in this market, as empathy and a more considered approach are vital at the moment. The thought process should now be looking at what your prospects/clients are potentially going through and how you can genuinely help them adapt to the current situation. This could be through the services you provide or acting in partnership to advise on the area you specialise within. Have you thought about how you could potentially help them, help their customers?
Rather than a gung-ho approach to trying to close deals, you may find it more advantageous to remain prominent & relevant within your prospect’s minds. I appreciate this may not have an immediate result with regards to your BD targets etc., but by taking the time to approach and nurture prospects you can really build a genuine relationship with them, which further down the line they will not forget. These types of relationships are priceless in potentially creating consistent pipeline because everyone remembers when someone has helped them out during a tough time.
Adapting to the times
I am sure you will have noticed a number of businesses adapting their approach during these testing times, as it’s affecting everyone in one way or another. A prime example is Coca-Cola, who have removed all ‘hugging’ from their campaigns, as it obviously goes against the current guidelines! Areas of businesses are going through a huge amount of change at the minute and your business needs to help them adapt or adapt yourself to help them. As business owners it is our duty to really ensure that we are ethically conducting business ethically and really distinguish between carrying out things for the right reason and not simply jumping on a bandwagon to make a quick buck to the detriment of our clients. It is key to be putting your audience first.
What are the chances of winning new business during a pandemic?
This is a big question for a lot of people, but there is no simple one size fits all answer, as it is all industry dependent. In terms of short-term opportunities to build your business, I would recommend looking at “low-hanging fruit”, and by this, I mean speaking to existing & former clients, looking at previous deals you did not quite manage to land at the time or using your current wider network that may be able to refer clients your way, or vice-versa. Do not underestimate the network you already have.
Of organisations at all levels have curbed their spending in certain areas, but it is your job to find the areas that there is still potential within. I can just about guarantee there are still companies within struggling sectors doing very well, simply because they have found a way to adapt to the situation. We are all in the same boat. We only need to look back at the previous financial recession to see that some companies adjusted to thrive/survive and came out the end of it in a better position. A big part of this was the money they spent during that time, while everyone else was cutting back.
Long term, businesses that are finding themselves with a bit of time on their hands are using the time wisely to draw up future plans and give them a solid positioning post-lockdown. There are others looking at simple housekeeping tasks, such as websites, marketing, CRM systems etc. Please do not get left behind and do what you can.
Existing Clients VS New Business
When we are considering new business, we need to consider accountability and time management to succeed. You will hear of people discussing ups & down when it comes to their pipeline, which is often down to an insufficient amount of time set aside to develop new business.
My advice is to try and maintain between 10 – 20% of your time to source new business and marketing activities. If you a relatively established business, in the current climate it is important that the majority of your time is spent focusing on your current client base, as the chances are they could need you more than ever in one way or another.
I hope you have taken some value from this and I really wish everyone out there the most success for the future.
If you are in the Sales & Marketing industry, get in touch with Debra Tracy to get a better idea of how the current market is, for either recruiting or job searching.
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