Business Development Training: What’s your Focus? Individuals or Sector?

I’ve worked with different services deliverers, accountants, engineers, consultants, surveyors
All of them want to be Rainmakers and generate business for themselves and their businesses.
Often they initially decide that their best approach is to target a few people in a small number of specific companies. They invest lots of time trying to develop a relationship with one specific person in the hope that they may buy their services.

The focus on individuals is risky.
I suggest that there’s a less risky and in the longer run more effective way to go.
If the person you’ve targeted leaves that company or that company merges with another company or is taken over the playing field is changed irrevocably and you are not even on square 1.

I get that the logic that applies is

“This person buys this kind of service.
I’m really good at delivering this.
If I spend enough time with them they’ll buy some of me
Once I’ve landed we can expand”

Often the individual in the company is “known” by the Business Developer.
I have even seen where this approach has worked …

However I think there is a way to Re-Frame this problem of getting New New Business.

I’d suggest you would be better to build  a “Funnel” of Opportunities in a specific industry .
A funnel because it’s wider at the top than at the bottom in a way that you will see below.

Your aim is to attract Opportunities to you rather than you having to wait for and push for opportunities. You want to work with people who want to buy-from-you rather than identify people-to-sell-to

This lowers the risk and gives you choice of the kind of work to do and people to work with.
People identify themselves as ready to buy and by working with them you are not waiting for people to be ready. You could describe this as the difference between Marketing (one-to-many) and Selling (1 to 1).

Either way you approach this requirement you will be judged by

  • your understanding of the industry/business context
  • knowledge of it’s issues and problems
  • the applicability and usefulness of your ideas
  • the creativity of the solutions you advocate

If you join in the industry conversation, share your thinking on problems and issues
that have sufficient impact that companies must take action to deal with,
and that you can solve, you’ll create the following Opportunity Funnel

Sales Funnel

 

From the total universe of possible people in the industry who might “buy-You” a % who see your ideas will find them relevant, and pay attention to you.

They’ll subscribe to blogs, email list, Twitter, LinkedIn,
Let’s call these “Your Suspects”
Add your list of people in specific companies into here

a % of those who engage with you will decide that they like how you think. They’ll link you to that industry issue in their minds
Let’s Call these your “Prospects”

a % who link you with the solution to the problem will have to deal with it.  Let’s call these your “Opportunities”

a % who have to deal with the problem will seek your opinion.
They will have to buy something from someone
Let’s call these your “Deals”

 

a %  who consult you will discover that they like you
as much as they like your thinking and they’ll hire you
Let’s call these your “Clients” ?

Now your task is to pick an industry or a segment of a market where

1. The problem you solve is emerging.
2. It has significant enough impact that it commands action and investment
3. It occurs frequently enough that you don’t have to have a huge market share to succeed.

It will not be easy, but in my experience, it will be easier and more successful
than targetting companies and people in them and trying to SELL to them.
It will also give you a regular flow of business opportunities that you can work on alone or with others in your firm

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