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11 Steps to Developing New Business

By Eric Gilboord |

There is an old saying “If you don't know where you are going, any road will take you there.” It is vital to identify, track and land new business. Seeing the big picture of new business development, recognizing areas of missed opportunities and assisting in the elimination of that overwhelming feeling can move an entrepreneur to utilize the many marketing tools available to increase their business.

Warning: Do not expect to do this all yourself. Consider a family member or friend to help. A part-time administrative assistant is a worthwhile investment, if you can afford it. Make sure they want to do the job and they understand your business.

11 Step Process For Developing New Business

  1. Goal Setting – Pick a dollar figure you wish to attain for the year. Make it realistic. A desired salary is a good starting point. A financial goal is needed to help work out how much business must be conducted. If you want to do $250,000 in business you need to determine where that business will come from. Will it be 5 x $50,000 orders or 250 x $1,000 orders. Do you have staff to handle 250 orders or will your operations expenses go up to hire temporary staff to handle the orders. How does this affect your profitability and is your projection of $250,000 in business realistic. In order to accomplish this goal you will need prospects and customers.

  2. Prospect List- There are many places to acquire prospect lists. You usually have to purchase them but not always. You can get lists from list brokers, associations, magazines, networking groups, Chambers of Commerce, and other companies with similar target groups to yours. You tend to pay more money for newer more accurate and more specific information. Remember, you get what you pay for. Regardless of where the list comes from it will be necessary to qualify it before spending marketing dollars sending out your communications pieces.

  3. Qualifying Prospect Call- No matter where you get a list or prospect name you must do 2 things. Check the accuracy of the information and make sure this contact is in fact the real prospect, the decision maker. Do not spend your valuable time and money chasing the wrong person. If they are not the decision maker then they should at least be an influencer. There are many people in varying positions at companies that will gladly take the time to see your presentation. This is not a guarantee that they are the correct person. Do your homework up front and increase your chances for success. Do Not Try To Sell Over The Phone at this stage.

  4. Database-Take your prospect information out of the shoebox and input the information in a database. The database will allow you to retain vital information about prospects and customers such as name, title, address, telephone, fax, e-mail, value of last sale, size of opportunity, timing for decisions, next steps etc. Modern databases allow you to input any and all kinds of information and to draw information together in any combination you desire. There is virtually no limit to the information you can store in a database. Use it to organize opportunities from largest down to the smallest, coordinate your efforts geographically and stay in touch with prospects and customers.

    Modern technology has made it very easy for a small business to manage their new business development efforts with relative ease. You can contact and market to many more prospects than ever before. There are several inexpensive contact management software packages available. They will make your prospecting 10 times more efficient and effective. See contact management section in this book for more details.

  5. Lead Generation Package-Do not make cold calls if you can help it. Before you make a contact with a prospect send out a lead generation package. This could be a post card or letter or simple flyer. Addressed to the most qualified prospect in the decision making process. Printed and mailed is better than faxing.

    Do not try to tell them too much. If you send a lot of information a prospect will either become overwhelmed and not read any of it or read it and think they now have all the information they need and not have to see you in person. All you want to do is whet their appetite. Tell them a little about your product or service. Who you are, what you do, why you are different. When they do here from you they are warmed up to your company.

  6. Lead Generation Follow-up Call-Make sure they have seen your lead generation piece. Determine if they can use your product or service up front. Do not try to sell over the phone at this stage. In most cases you will not be able to do justice to your product or service offering and could possibly lose the opportunity. Set up a meeting, put a face to a name for your benefit and for theirs. ( If your product or service lends itself to telephone sales and it is not cost effective to meet in person, go ahead with the sell.)

  7. (A) Interested or Immediate Need-There is an interest in your offering by the prospect. This means you will need to have a first meeting/presentation. (B) No Need – They may not have a need at this time and therefore it is wise to track them with follow-up calls, newsletters etc. If they have no need now, they may need you in the future or this contact may move on and be replaced by someone who decides to try you on as a new supplier. Anything can happen in an organization and not having a need can be quickly replaced by a need due to many reasons well beyond your control. Be hopeful, enthusiastic and do not lose touch with the prospects.

  8. Meeting Presentation Package-First meetings can be tricky if you do not have a plan. Make sure you discuss the agenda or expectations of the meeting with your prospect. Is this a briefing meeting or a chance for you to present your qualifications? Is there a real need for you to fulfill or is this an opportunity for the prospect to interview new potential suppliers? You should not be going in to do a huge elaborate presentation; because you don't know what they need yet. You could spend much of your presentation time on a subject that is of little interest to the prospect and completely miss their need. Be prepared and remember your job is to identify what they need and come back with a well thought out focussed proposal outlining how you can help them solve a problem. Rule for first meetings is 80% listening and 20% talking. You may also, at this time, introduce some additional information on your company.

  9. Proposal-They are interested in your services and want to see a concrete proposal in writing. In some cases you could send in the proposal particularly if it is a price based request or preferably present it in person. In other cases the situation calls for a formal presentation by you and your group to a prospect and his group of influencers and decision makers. Either way you have a limited amount of attention from your audience. They will only spend so much time reviewing the proposal. In person you have a specific amount of physical time. Before you get there ask how long you have for your presentation and who will be participating. At the presentation avoid unnecessary background information, review the opportunity and get to the point quickly. Backup data and more information on your company can be included in the written proposal as an addendum to the leave behind. If the audience wants to know more they will ask or review it later on their own. Each proposal and presentation is unique. Regardless if it is a live presentation or a submission, do your homework, research the opportunity and be as prepared as possible. Ask and answer all the questions in an organized concise manner. Part of the decision to go with you may be based on the quality of your presentation both written and verbal, not just on the products and services offered or the price.

  10. (A) First Job-Congratulations, remember it is an opportunity to prove yourself, don't blow it. Follow-up make sure everything went well. Many unhappy customers won't tell you of their displeasure. They just stop calling.

    (B) No Immediate Need-Track prospect, send newsletters etc. Circumstances change. Your job is to get on their shopping list, preferably at the top.

  11. Ongoing Relationship-At this point you have the opportunity to introduce new products or services. Keep in touch. It's your responsibility to stay top of mind with them. Out Of Sight Out Of Mind.

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