I think lots of business development actions I hear of seem to be doing something but with no clear purpose or plan.
For me they fall into the Nightmare category.
Often in the context of business development people say things like
“I’m having lunch with…”
“I’m writing an article about…”
“I’m speaking at…”
“I’m going to this networking event”.
However they often don’t consider what’s the goal? And What’s the
return on investment? is that activity for its own sake? Is it TAMO
management (Then A Miracle Occurs) and business is generated.
We should really ask and “Then what? What happens next”? Can we define a credible sequence of events that may lead to a desirable outcome?.
Here’s an example.
“I’m going to the XXYZZ Conference this November in Birmingham.”
With the conference fee, travel expense, and four days out of the office, that’s a pretty significant investment. Let’s ask what’s your goal for the event?
“My goals are to
1. Associate myself with the problem of the industry talent shortages.
2. I also want to find six people who are willing to discuss the topic in more depth with me after the event.”
What will you do between now and November to raise the odds of achieving those goals and justifying your investment?
“I’ll email my industry contacts to see how many are attending.
I’ll try to arrange to see them at a specific time/place during the event.
For those unable or unwilling to commit to that now, I’ll exchange contact details
and get permission to contact them after the event.”
“I’ll develop a profile of the size and type of companies, and the key stakeholders within them, for whom my big enough to invest problem is likely important. ‘I’ll scan name badges looking for appropriate titles and appropriate companies; no match, no chat. I’m not networking; I’m hunting for prospects. After a minute or so of their response, I’ll graciously say I don’t want to monopolize their attention, and ask if it makes sense for us to continue the conversation after we return from the event.”
“When I get home, I’ll send ‘follow up’ emails, reminding them of our topical discussion and that they thought it made sense to pick up the thread this week, and ask when it would be convenient to do so.”
“During that discussion, after drilling down into the industry-specific topic, I’ll transition to exploring their company-specific version of it. If they acknowledge having the problem, or likely being subject to it before too long, I’ll learn the Cost of Doing Nothing. Assuming it’s significant, I’ll have confirmed that this is a legitimate sales opportunity. I’ll then begin the stakeholder alignment process to identify the core decision group and logical internal champion.”
That’s what I mean by having thought the first action all the way through to the desired outcome.
Will it play out like this?
Maybe, maybe not, but it certainly could play out exactly like this.
The point is that you’re no longer hoping for the best, but are now applying a considered strategy that requires only reasonably predictable responses to succeed.
At a large multi-day event, you should easily be able to come home with six legitimate prospects — which was your measurable goal.
The “then what” discipline isn’t just for major events and investments like conferences or trade shows.
You should do it for everything.
“I’m going to have lunch with Steve Jones.” Then what? Or, “I’m going to write an article for Computer News.
” Ok, then what? Or, “We’re meeting with CIO at XYZCo.” Then what?
If you can’t envision a sequence that results in getting what you want, the odds of it happening are miniscule.