It’s critical that the execution of your business development strategy keeps progressing, even when things don’t always go according to plan.
Why is business development strategy so critical? Let’s dive in: Your business development team helps your company identify new market opportunities and expand into new markets. They do this by conducting research, analyzing market requirements, identifying new product and service needs, and supporting sales, marketing, and product development initiatives.
When building your business development strategy, you need to take into account a variety of factors, ranging from who you hire all the way to how to hold them accountable for the goals you set.
Here are five best practices to consider when developing and executing a winning business development strategy:
Hire the right people
Building a solid business development team is arguably the most challenging and most important aspect of implementing a strong business development strategy. There are a variety of traits you’ll need to seek when hiring but ultimately, there are three types of personality types you’ll want on your all-star business development lineup:
- The Builder: This is the person who understands your systems and processes, and builds upon them to make them their own. This person takes on a leadership role without being told to do so. They naturally want to be more efficient, and are constantly searching for new technologies that will help enable the company’s sales process. They are constantly analyzing their success and their data, constantly testing what works and what doesn’t, and constantly shifting business development strategy accordingly. This person teaches those around them their secret sauce, strengthening your team’s business development strategy and helping the overall team achieve success.
- The Grinder: This person is just plain hungry; they’re hungry for success, hungry for compensation, and hungry to grow within your company. This person is typically competitive in nature and responds well to extrinsic motivators such as recognition and additional compensation. They are determined to make their quota, even if that means working nights and weekends. Their ambition inspires those around them and motivates others to work even harder.
- The Communicator: With relationships serving as the backbone of just about any business, it is crucial that your business development team consists of at least one top-notch communicator. This is a people person who goes the extra mile to know who they are prospecting and what their needs are, and in return is top notch at building personalized cadences. When conducting sales outreach, this person is great at not only selling your product, but also building relationships with potential clients—even if they aren’t ready to buy today, they’re more willing to come back to you in the future. This person would also do well in a hunter/farmer combined role where they can sell the account and also assist in retaining them, as well.
Identify your target audience(s)
A solid business development plan starts with knowing exactly who you’re targeting. Do you have a clear image of who your target(s) is or are? An easy place to start is looking at your current customer base, or even the customers of your direct competitors, and drawing conclusions.
In addition to your own internal research sales intelligence, tools like Winmo can also help you quickly scope out the total addressable market (TAM) so you understand the size and types of contacts within adjacent industries. These resources can also help you fill in gaps of information like media spend by category, decision-maker personality insights and more.
From there, compile the similarities and create customer profiles and market segments based on factors like industry, amount of annual revenue, and geographic regions. Once you know exactly who you’re targeting, make sure you clearly understand—and delineate—their wants, needs, and pain points.
The above graphic is an example of what your market segmentation may resemble. This will help you build custom messaging and content that attracts their attention when reaching out.
While it’s easy to cast a wide net to attract new opportunities, your business development strategy shouldn’t be based on targeting everyone. Rather, you should strategically identify your audience, nurture them, and convert them into new clients.
Have clearly defined goals
It’s important to implement SMART goals to help you monitor progress as you and your business development team move through your strategy. Teams who use this method are 70% more successful in reaching their goals.
SMART goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely. Simply setting a goal to increase sales by a specified amount isn’t enough— you need to interrogate each goal that passes through your sales or business development team using this checklist. An example of a SMART goal would be: “I want to grow measured new sales revenue 25% by the beginning of Q4.”
To ensure you’re on pace to hit your SMART goals, make sure you set up leading KPIs that can be tracked and monitored frequently. Using the example above, if you’re looking to increase sales revenue, a leading indicator of revenue is the number of demos your sales or business development team is completing on a monthly basis.
Other leading indicators for your business development strategy could include:
- How many calls, emails, and meetings does your team schedule?
- Of those calls, emails, meetings, and demos, how many proposals are they sending?
- How many deals are in the pipeline?
Business development goals should go beyond your top-line figures. Your team’s goals should help develop focus, build their skills, shape how they scale within the company and serve to reward their committed effort. Not only will these goals help you develop greater company outcomes, but they will transform your team into better business development professionals.
Use ABM to strengthen your business development and marketing
For ultimate business development growth, your strategy must involve the marketing team. When these teams work together, companies see 36% higher customer retention and 38% higher sales win rates. (Looking to align your marketing and sales teams? Check out DocSend’s very own guide, featuring Monetate’s Megan Tonzi.)
For most businesses, less than 1% of the leads that come from marketing will ever become closed-won deals. While marketing is busy creating top-of-funnel content with the primary goal of generating leads, business development teams are focused on generating revenue and the teams aren’t aligned. To correct this, many teams have found success in implementing account-based marketing (ABM) into their business development strategy. ABM will serve to generate campaigns, both on the sales/business development and marketing side, that target each of your target customer accounts.
Account-based marketing requires sales and marketing to look at key business issues facing the target audience, map them to individuals, and tailor campaigns to address those issues.
Here are the steps for setting up your account based marketing plan:
- Identify and agree upon target accounts between business development and marketing
- Develop buyer personas
- Create tactics for your outbound and inbound marketing strategies
- Assign and align handoff goals
- Develop a content marketing strategy
Terminus also has a useful guide for building an ABM strategy from the ground up.
Once you get your ABM strategy off the ground, evaluate the engagement among your ideal personas. Are your business development and marketing teams interacting and attracting the right decision-makers? How much revenue has been attributed to your ABM efforts?
Test and iterate on your business development strategy
Lastly, it’s best to accept the fact that your business development strategy is going to shift and you have to be prepared to pivot with it. One of the best, most actionable ways to identify key changes necessary for your business development strategy is to collect performance metrics around key aspects of your inbound and outbound sales strategy.
For instance, it can be worthwhile to explore answers to both of the following questions:
- Which product pages (or blogs, etc.) aimed at which audiences are driving inbound signups or demo requests?
- Which outbounding emails are driving opens, clicks, and other indications of prospect interest?
It’s worthy of note that equipping Google Analytics with the ability to measure and track such traffic and conversion data is fully possible, but may require the use of an expert.
Furthermore, it’s critical to track performance of the sales collateral that wins your deals. Content is an essential piece of sales outreach and movement through the sales/business development pipeline, but prioritization of leads at a given stage can be difficult to parse without objective indications of engagement. DocSend provides real-time read notifications and page-by-page (or slide-by-slide) gated or ungated engagement analytics.
In this way, you can identify which prospects have accessed a given sales asset, how much time they’ve spent on each page or slide, whether they’ve forwarded it within their organization, and more helpful insights that can indicate a vastly more accurate indication of interest in your product or service. In addition to informing your understanding of prospect interest, you can also use this data to identify which sales assets (beyond archaic click metrics) actually move deals forward, and which just appear to do so.
Click here to learn more and get started with DocSend for free. If you have any questions, DocSend’s support team is always happy to help.
At the end of the day, your industry, as well as the industries of your target audience(s), will change, bigger and better technologies will come into play, and employees will come and go. The winners in your space will be adaptable—they will listen to the prospect, rather than to their impressions of the prospect. Your business development strategy will keep structure instilled, and keep your team more focused than ever.
Jennifer Groese is the CMO at Winmo and currently oversees all marketing operations, including customer acquisition, product adoption, advocacy, retention, and experience.