One of the parenting techniques my mom and dad used after my “everyone else is doing it” line of reasoning was, “if all your friends were jumping off a bridge, would you?” I, of course, having been reduced to a cliché, would have to say, “no.” Great. Another one bites the dust. However, that cliché probably saved my butt more times than hot. (Note: I have only used that line a couple of times with my own children. On each of them.)
When we look at business development – sales and marketing techniques, are you just doing what everyone else is doing for the sake of doing it, or are you evaluating your own company, your target audiences, the products or services you are offering and designing a unique sales and marketing program to attract and connect with those audiences? Companies that say that we HAVE to do something a certain way do so for the same reasons newspapers report bad news: to get more sales. Think about the classic, “Think and Grow Rich.” What if the title had been, “Strategy and Growth.” Would it have stood out as a best seller? Would it be something that people would pass on as a “must have?” Are the ideas in the book really that unique that everyone who has read the book is now rich beyond their wildest dreams? Of course not.
Expert advice and techniques are not necessarily the same thing. Just because someone says everyone is doing it doesn’t mean that it is right for your company. Furthermore, there are different ways to reach the same goal.
Experts in business development – those who have literally written the book – will tell you that the foundation of business development is knowing your customer, intimately, understanding their needs, letting them know that you have done so and why they should purchase it from at a price that makes sense to them, then making sure that they can get it. Everything that we do in business development is a tool to get that message across. Not every business will take off from their Twitter posts. Not every business personality (think like your own personality) is appropriate for facebook and other social media. Not every company can reach the million dollar mark through billboard advertisements, a fancy website or constant networking.
As a matter of fact, I would bet that if you looked at the cost of certain activities – consider opportunity cost (you cannot, for example, write an article if you are having a get-to-know-you coffee meeting) as well as the actual cost – versus the return on the investment, you might think differently about the investments. Furthermore, with further evaluation, you might find that there are certain things that you do that get more response in the way you are looking to get that response! That is opposed to striking up a conversation about migrating ducks on facebook with several of your connections.
So what are the value propositions for your business development activities? Which activities are the most effective? Which are the least effective? What do you need to do differently?
I challenge you for 2012, to evaluate the investments you are making in business development, determine which ones are effective, which ones could be effective with a tweak and and which ones simply need to go, then create goals for each one, being able to suggest why each goal makes sense for you or your company. Finally, write down, specifically, how you will accomplish each goal, taking into consideration what kinds of barriers you will encounter, and at what point you will have to consider tweaking or abandoning that particular goal.
If you jump off the bridge, make sure you are are ready to fly. Pursue extraordinary!
Aepiphanni Business Consulting: The Business Strategy People is an Atlanta, Georgia based Operations Management and Business Strategy Consulting Firm dedicated to serving the needs of small to medium sized business leaders. We help business leaders DESIGN| CREATE | BUILD extraordinary businesses. We support our clients with financial management, product and service production and delivery, outsourced services management, sales & marketing and business growth. We provide them with a number of flexible solutions to help them reach their goals.
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