10 Of the World’s Best Business Development Ideas

Brilliant business development ideas have helped small businesses grow into big businesses that employ hundreds to thousands of people.

Here are 10 of the world’s best professional development ideas:

1. Partnerships
Going into partnership came about when one party has what the other party does not have. For example, many people with great products (that consumers will jump at) often go into partnership with people who have the money to launch the product off the ground.

2. Franchising
This is one of the business development ideas that close to the top of the list! Franchising offers companies a chance to market and sell their brand and their business processes to other businesses in exchange for franchise charges and at times a share of the franchise proceeds. This professional development idea is pretty common with well known eateries, restaurants, residential maid services etc.

3. Using The Internet
Without a doubt, going online is truly a business development idea that every business in this modern day and age needs to implement or remain in obscurity. Every type of business can promote their business through a website.

4. Exportation
Products that are in hot demand outside the shores of the country are exported abroad. This is another smart professional development plan that many businesses employ, because the high demand of the product will sustain the company’s financial, management and production needs.

5. Opening Another Location
This is a step that a lot of companies take in order to serve their growing customers especially if their present location cannot serve customers who do not reside within the locality. Companies also open another location in areas where growth opportunity has been clearly spotted.

6. Trade Shows
Attending trade shows is one business development idea that makes perfect sense because it offers business owners the opportunity to network and to even size up the competition as well. Many businesses have achieved their breakthrough in business by simply attending trade shows.

7. Corporate Social Responsibility
Contributing to the growth of the community is one way to attain business growth. People always feel a sense of loyalty to those that care about them. When they purchase products and services from a company that gives back to the community, they also feel that they are giving back to the community when they purchase goods and or services from that company as well.

8. Excellent Customer Service
This is perhaps one of the most effective business development strategies in the world. People will always do business with a company that offers them quality products and top notch customer service.

9. Giving Away Sample Products
Giving consumers a taste of your product is one way of getting them hooked and reeling them in. Manufacturers of beauty products have used this professional development strategy for years and have enjoyed immense growth.

10. Customer Loyalty Program
This particular business development idea is one that many consumers appreciate and has helped many businesses retain their existing customers and capture new clients/customers.

Business Development Steps and Strategies

Business development requires a multi-disciplinary approach and there is no ‘one size fits all’ strategy.

Below are some of the ways available to help ensure business development:

o Identify – Before you can seriously plan for business development it is necessary to identify new business opportunities.

o Plan – Once new business opportunities have been identified you will need to decide how you can best reach those new customers and markets. If your in-house resources are already stretched, you may need to look for help elsewhere. The same applies if you find the capacity or skills for business development do not already exist within your business. Outsourcing is not always as expensive as you think and could work out more cost effective over the time needed.

o Develop – What innovative marketing plans can you develop to raise your business profile among your existing customers and new markets? You may wish to consider things that you haven’t tried before. It is important that everything you plan to do can be tested on a small scale first and that you build in the opportunity to fine tune your efforts.

o Implement – If your business is not at the stage to appoint a full time marketing director, at least hire an experienced business development professional to work with your company for a few days a month.

Commitment is the key to business development. If you want to see results you must persevere. If your attempts are sporadic or you give up, you will waste the time, money and effort that have already been invested into your business development programme. Be consistent.

Business Development Strategies – 4 Stages You Need to Understand

Business Development Strategies are presented here as a measure of how businesses can grow and develop over time. In his book, “Fire, Aim, Ready”, Michael Masterson does a splendid job of explaining the problems, challenges and opportunities connected with each stage of business development.

Stage 1, Starting Out: You have just taken your business from an idea to actively running and developing a positive cash flow. ($0 – $1 million).

Main Problem: You really don’t know what you are doing.

Main Challenge: Making your first profitable sale.

Main Opportunity: Achieving a critical mass of customers.

Stage 2, The fast growth stage: Taking your business from the $1 million level to $2 million a year in profits. ($1 million to $10 million in revenue).

Main Problem: You are breaking even or may even be losing money.

Main Challenge: Creating many additional, profitable products quickly.

Main Opportunity: Increasing cash flow and becoming profitable. Being cost effective is key to profitability.

Stage 3, The adolescent stage: Take your business over the $10 million threshold with profits in the range of $2 million to $5 million. Revenue parameters are from $10 million to $50 million.

Main Problem: Your systems are strained and your customers are noticing.

Main Challenge: Turning chaos into order.

Main Opportunity: Learning how to establish useful protocols and manage processes and procedures.

Stage 4, The Stage of Maturity: Your business has now grown with revenues of $50 million to $100 million or higher.

Main Problem: Sales slow down or even stall.

Main Challenge: Becoming Entrepreneurial again.

Main Opportunity: Getting the business to run itself.

You may find that Business Development Strategies outlined herein may be relevant to you today. You may also find them to be more relevant at another time in your life. It is hoped that you will identify where your business is today and will make plans to deal with the challenges that lie ahead.

A Golden Nugget of New Business Development

This past year (2009) was tough for most businesses, and 2010 will be tough too. Current account lists have been trimmed (in both numbers and profitability) because of the global economic contraction, and the focus of most business has turned to new business development to drive revenue growth. In fact, the majority of sales job listings on careerbuilder.com and monster.com are for salespeople that can develop new business, rather than organically grow existing business. Because new business development is so important to so many, I thought I would post an article on what I consider to be one of the “golden nuggets” that sales executives should think of to help boost his/her sales organization’s new business productivity.

The golden nugget is your sales force’s ability to QUALIFY NEW PROSPECTS. To better understand the implications of good/bad qualification on new business development, I find it’s insightful to take a look at the sales funnel. There are two characteristics of the sales funnel that I find to be telling about new business development. The first is that as opportunities move down the sales funnel, they require an increasing investment of your company’s resources (time and money). The implication is that if you let an unqualified opportunity move down the funnel it will become very expensive (in time and money) very fast, and you will lose out on the opportunity to invest those resources in other opportunities. The second characteristic is that the greatest number of prospects sit within the first stage of your sales funnel (often called prospecting or initial contact). The average amount of time that your salespeople spend qualifying a prospect in the first stage has a HUGE impact on your sales force’s time. If your sales force reaches out to 100 prospects a week, an average qualification time of 30 minutes versus an hour can free your sales force of 3,000 hours per week; that’s equivalent to adding 75 full time employees per week.

So where does qualification fit into the sales funnel? Qualification is the process by which your salespeople identify the quality of the prospect, and determine if the prospect is worth pursuing. In the sales funnel this is reflected by the movement of a prospect either from the first stage (often called “initial contact”) to the second stage (often called “needs analysis”), or the elimination of the prospect from the sales funnel altogether. Qualification has a profound impact on both the number of expensive bad opportunities that leak into the advanced stages of your sales funnel, as well as the time your salespeople will spend trying to qualify prospects. If you could use 75 new salespeople, or would love to have invested more resources in a big opportunity that got away, here are a couple tips to help your sales force qualify opportunities efficiently and effectively:

–Define Qualification: Generally speaking, a qualified opportunity is one in which the salesperson has spoken with someone involved in the decision making process, has found that the target company has a need, and is certain that the target company has an interest/commitment to take action to meet that need. As I am sure you know, there are different degrees of quality and you will want to invest your resources accordingly. I generally find that there are roughly three characterizations that businesses gravitate to once a prospect is deemed to be over the quality threshold: 1) Good enough to let a salesperson invest their time. 2) Good enough to assign local resources (engineers, regional marketers, local sales managers) to the opportunity. 3) Good enough to assign corporate resources (regional sales VPs, directors of product management, C-level suite) to the opportunity.

–Create Qualification Questions: After you have defined what a qualified opportunity looks like, you will need to determine the key questions that your sales force must answer to determine the quality of the prospect. I’m a big believer in looking at my best employees for insight, and almost always find that the best new business development salespeople will have a good understanding of the questions they ask to determine if the prospect is worth putting more effort into. For example, a good qualification question I see elite salespeople answer is “Does your prospect have an assigned budget for the project/product/service?” That might give you insight as to whether the prospect has made a commitment to meet their need.

–Answer Qualification Questions: Once you’ve determined the right questions to ask, it’s time to ingrain these questions in your sales management, sales process, coaching priorities, and CRM software. The key here is to emphasize the importance of answering these questions in as many places as possible; this will help to create an environment (as opposed to a “flavor of the week” initiative) that exudes the importance of answering qualification questions. You can always just require that they answer them, but unless they see those questions as important they are likely to game the system.

–Training!: As a manager and a leader, whenever you set a strong direction for your people it is important to surround them with the resources they need to do accomplish their goals. Seek out an internal or external sales training group that specializes in helping salespeople qualify, and follow up with support: here are a few tips that will help you with sales training.

–Set Goals and Measure Results: As with anything, measuring progress towards your goals is crucial. If you aren’t sure about what goals you need, set-up your qualification infrastructure (steps above) and then start to gather data to help you set a baseline. Set up your goals so that they are consistent with the other goals for your sales force.

One important note: The reason why I see most companies struggle with qualification is that they over rely on one of the two different types of questions they make their sales force answer: objective and subjective. An objective question requires a black and white answer, such as “Is there an assigned budget for the project/product/service, and what is the amount?” Customers have never fit neatly into objective boxes because they are all unique, and a salesperson’s value often lies in their intuition. Holding back your investment in all prospects unless the answer to this question is “Yes” might be a mistake. A subjective question relies solely on the perspective of the salesperson, which often varies from salesperson to salesperson. Of a ten prospect account list, one salesperson might see five qualified prospects while another might see two. This makes it very hard to truly see the ripe opportunities that you should invest resources in winning. In order to be as accurate as possible, it is vital that you use a mix of both subjective and objective questions.