Five Ways A Business Development Consulting Firm Can Help Your Business

For a small business owner, it may be challenging to get his or her company off the ground. Therefore, it may be necessary to enlist the services of a business development consulting firm. A consulting firm can help a new company figure out ways to expand and thrive in the marketplace. Here are five specific ways that a consulting firm can help your business thrive.

1) Target Your Customers Effectively

Do you know who your customers are? If you do know who your customers are, do you know how to reach them? A good consulting firm will show you what your customers need to hear before making a purchasing decision. From there, your business can devise a marketing plan that will convince customers that they need what your company has to offer.

2) Build An Online Presence

The Internet is an amazing marketing tool when used correctly. With proper guidance, your company can build a solid online presence that can be leveraged to increase sales and increase visibility for your products or services.

3) Develop Your Brand

A good brand can sell products all by itself. Therefore, it is important that your company has a strong brand that customers can identify with. If your company wants to be known for great customer service, offering 24 hour service to handle returns could be something that your business could offer. Another good idea would be to have a call center that is open around the clock to address customer complaints and concerns.

4) Learn How To Interact With Other Businesses

Other businesses in your area may want to promote their products in your store. In exchange, these businesses may be willing to promote your products in their store. For example, your lawn mower supply company may want to partner with a hardware store or a landscaping business to create a dynamic marketing initiative. Your lawn mowers could be promoted in the hardware store while your company helps to promote your local landscaping company.

5) Understand Where Opportunities For Growth Are

There are always opportunities for your company to grow. Whether it is expanding into other markets, targeting new customers or creating new products, sales should never stay stagnant. A consulting firm will be able to point out these opportunities to you well before you have thought of them. This will enable you to be the first company in your industry to enter a new market or to create a new product that customers desperately need. Typically, the company that is first to offer a product or service is the company that is associated with that product or service even after competitors offer something similar. This makes it easier to maintain a larger portion of the market share.

When used correctly, a consulting firm can be your best friend. You will have someone who you can turn to when you need advice or at a loss for ideas. The best part is that most consulting firms are staffed by people who have experience in the business world. This experience can be used to give your company a leg up on the competition.

11 Step New Business Development Process – Stick to it and Grow Your Business

There is an old saying “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there.” The following 11 step process is a road map for identifying, tracking and landing new business. Unfortunately I can’t do justice to the process in one article but I hopefully will provide you with a good overview. In my seminars and workshops I have found this process helpful to many small business owners. Seeing the big picture of new business development, recognizing areas of missed opportunities and assisting in the elimination of that overwhelming feeling can move an entrepreneur to utilize the many marketing tools available to increase their business.

Warning: Do not expect to do this all yourself. Consider a family member or friend to help. An administrative assistant is a worthwhile investment, if you can afford it. Make sure they want to do the job and they understand your business.

1. Goal Setting – Pick a dollar figure you wish to attain for the year. Make it realistic. A desired salary is a good starting point. A financial goal is needed to help work out how much business must be conducted.

2. Prospect List – There are many places to acquire prospect lists. You usually have to purchase them but not always. Remember, you get what you pay for. Get lists from list brokers, associations, magazines, networking groups, Chamber of Commerce, and other companies with similar target groups to yours. You tend to pay more money for newer more accurate and more specific information.

3. Qualifying Prospect Call – No matter where you get a list or prospect name you must do 2 things. Check the accuracy of the information and make sure this contact is in fact the real prospect. Do Not Try To Sell Over The Phone at this stage.

4. Database – Take the prospect information out of the shoebox and put the information onto a database. There are many inexpensive contact management software packages available. They will make your prospecting 10 times more efficient and effective.

5. Lead Generation Package – No cold calls. Before you make a contact with a prospect send out a lead generation package. This could be a post card or letter or simple flyer. Printed and mailed is better than faxing. All you want to do is whet their appetite. Tell them a little about your product or service. Who you are, what you do, why you are different.

6. Lead Generation Follow-up Call – Make sure they have seen your lead generation piece. Determine if they can use your product or service. Do Not Try To Sell Over The Phone at this stage. Set a meeting; put a face to a name for your benefit and for theirs. (If your product or service lends itself to telephone sales and it is not cost effective to meet in person, go ahead with the sell.)

7. (A) Interested or Immediate Need – This means you will need to have a first meeting/presentation.

(B) No Need – Track them with follow-up calls, newsletters etc. If they have no need now, they may need you in the future or this contact may move on and be replaced.

8. Meeting Presentation Package – You are not going in to do a huge elaborate presentation; because you don’t know what they need yet. Remember, your job is to find out what they need. Rule for first meetings is 80% listening and 20% talking. You may also, at this time, introduce some additional information on your company.

9. Proposal – Could be in written form and sent in or preferably presented in person. Either way you have a limited amount of attention from your audience. When in person you have a limited amount of physical time. Ask how long you have before you get there. Avoid unnecessary background, review the opportunity and get to the point quickly. Backup data and more information on your company can be included in the written proposal. If the audience wants to know more they will ask or review it later.

10. (A) First Job – Congratulations, remember it is an opportunity to prove yourself, don’t blow it. Follow-up make sure everything went well. Many unhappy customers won’t tell you. They just stop calling.

(B) No Immediate Need – Track prospect send newsletters etc. Circumstances change. Your job is to get on their shopping list, preferably at the top.

11. Ongoing Relationship – Introduce new products/or services keep in touch. It’s your responsibility to stay top of mind with them. Out of Sight Out of Mind.

Business Development Advice from the Chair of the ABA Commission on Women

Pamela Roberts, Esq., a partner at Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough, has cracked the code to becoming a rainmaker: get active in a big national organization, focus on public service and let the referrals come in. Her story illustrates how any lawyer can do the same; and her questions at the end of the article can stimulate your own success story.

She is no ordinary lawyer. Roberts is the Chair of the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession, a prominent national position that gives her frequent exposure on the wide range of issues facing women lawyers. And she does it while being a mother of four, wife of another partner in her firm and full-time business litigator at a 400-lawyer firm.

Only 17% of women lawyers are equity partners, and most firms have just a lone woman rainmaker – statistics that Roberts finds distressing. “Becoming a rainmaker always been somewhat challenging. It’s so much more challenging for a woman,” she said.

But she herself is active in four local charities, which brought her referrals. She is a regular public speaker before audiences of clients, and she attends trade association meetings in the industries of her clients.

How does she do it all? “I gave up on sleep,” she joked. “Seriously, my husband and I made the decision that by having two people working full time, we have to pay for nannies and support help.” Help is essential, especially when one of your kids is on two traveling soccer teams.

Getting Business from the Bar (or other Organizations)

And so is focus. Roberts pursues activities and passions where she can build relationships. For her it’s been the American Bar Association, where she began more than a decade ago by working her way up the Litigation Section. Her husband gave her an early demonstration of networking.

“I was attending an ABA Litigation section meeting. My husband, who is also a lawyer and avid golfer, was with me and he went out for a round of golf. He came back to lunch with another couple: one, a potential client whom he had been golfing with, and his spouse, who was a litigator attending the ABA meeting. She and I had never spoken though it’s only a group of 200 people! Meanwhile, these two guys played one round of golf and had already exchanged business cards and followed up with notes to each other,” she said.

Roberts devoted herself to the ABA and today is a member of the ABA House of Delegates, the ruling legislative body. She served on the Board of Governors – the ABA’s board of directors – from 2002-2005, and is a former member of the commission on what is today named the Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession. She was Chair of the Young Lawyers Division and served on the ABA’s Nominating Committee and Special Committee on Governance.

She was following a key rule of business development: to join an organization and become visible in it. “My continuing motive always has been the underlying work,” she said. “I’ve always been a believer in the public service aspect of the ABA.” At the same time she started seeing immediate business benefits, because South Carolina is a small state and lawyers around the country would refer local legal matters to her. “I’m not aggressive about business development in the ABA,” she said. “But certainly, yes, the ABA is a good arena to get referrals. Just like golf or trade association activity, once you’ve worked together with other lawyers you can build relationships.”

To achieve her success, she advises other lawyers: “You must treat bar association membership as you would treat a client: honor deadlines and respect other people’s time and input. It is not only rewarding, but you’ll succeed and will be around a long time and get the opportunities.”

Roberts uses several specific techniques to generate new business:

  • Speaking engagements. “A speech is absolutely a business development opportunity,” she said. “Sometimes it doesn’t even matter what you’re speaking on.” She said it impresses clients if they merely see their lawyer on a panel discussion at an industry event. “The ideal setting is when a client is in the audience and you’re speaking on something important that directly affects the client.”
  • Niche building. The bane of litigators is one-time engagements. Lawyers typically will work with a client on litigation for years, but when the case concludes, so does the relationship. To overcome this problem, Roberts built a niche practice to offer the same service to multiple clients. “I did a lot of securities fraud class action defense work. A lot of them were one-time cases. What I did was parlay my expertise so it worked for other clients. I can say to one client that I did this particular work for two others. That’s how you build a type of expertise into a niche practice,” she said.
  • Referrals from civic boards of directors. Roberts is on the board of the Trinity Housing Corporation, Claflin College, the local YMCA and the local children’s museum. “All four of them are outside the legal profession. They clearly introduced me to civic leaders and opportunities to talk about what our firm did. Those opportunities also led me to meet decision-makers of current clients. Board membership is a great way to solidify both the firm’s relationship and build my own expertise,” she said.

Rainmaking is the key to breaking the glass ceiling that stops women from moving up in law firms. See the other feature articles this month on the same theme. Lawyers who want to smash through the barrier should emulate Roberts’ example, starting with her

Business Development Strategies for Getting Through Your First Year in Network Marketing

Starting a business is one of the most exciting things you can do. However, as a new network marketer, independent business owner, or product representative, you may not realize that the first year or two in business will be the most challenging. This is especially true if you have never built a business before or worked outside the home. To help you with your business development, here is some advice you can use to maximize your chances of business success.

One thing that you need to understand as a new business owner is that you are responsible for your own success. The company will usually provide training to help you with your business development and your sponsor may offer some advice. At the end of the day, though, you are the one who has to take action to move your business in the direction that you want it to go. No matter what your sponsor tells you, all businesses require some type of active participation on your part.

Business Development Tips for Your First Year

Get Used to Rejection

No one likes to be rejected. As a small business owner, though, you might as well get used to it. Not everyone is going to be a match for the products you are selling or your business opportunity and you will run into a lot more people saying “No” than those who say “Yes”.

Don’t get discouraged. Take each rejection as an opportunity to learn what didn’t work so you can refine your approach. Eventually, you will get to a point where you will be able to ferret out the best business associates and increase your conversions.

Automate as Much of Your Business Development as You Can

A big part of your small business success will depend on how well you handle your time. There are only so many workable hours in the day and you want to spend as much of that time on tasks that will make you money or help you grow your business. Look for ways to automate or outsource those chores you don’t have time to do. For example, you could hire a virtual assistant to help you with email or some of your marketing.

Get Training

Part of your business development strategy must include taking time to get training that will provide you with the knowledge you need to build a successful small business. A lot of business opportunities tout the fact that you don’t need to have prior business experience. While this is true, you must be willing to get the training required to bring you up to speed. Take advantage of what your company has to offer as well as books and seminars offered by business development experts.

Track Your Progress

Tracking is the key to determining what works in your business and what needs to be abandoned in favor of something more promising to your business development. This is particularly important if you are paying with time or money because you don’t want to waste either on stuff that isn’t getting results. While there are programs out there which will assist you in monitoring different aspects of your business, a simple Microsoft Excel Spreadsheet will generally work fine as well.

Learn to Separate Fact from Fiction

When you announce to the world that are in business, you will get a lot of advice from everyone. Some of it will be good and some of it will be plain wrong. In addition to that, other people may try to sell you products and services aimed at helping your manage your business. It is important that you learn discernment and be able to separate fact from fiction. Otherwise, you will end up wasting time implementing bad advice or throwing good money at worthless products.

Build a Brand

There are thousands of people in the commercial sphere selling all sorts of business opportunities. The only thing that will make you stand out from your competition is your branding. Not your company branding but your own personal branding. When you build a recognizable name for yourself, you will attract prospects to you rather than having to chase after them. Additionally, having a personal brand will make it easier to change business opportunities without being forced to start all over again.

Train for Independence

It’s nice to have people helping you with your business development and providing advice or tools to assist you in achieving small business success. However, you are the epicenter of your business and you need to be able to stand on your own two feet. Network marketing is an industry that sees a lot of turnover. It is not uncommon for people to drop in and out of a business opportunity. Keep yourself and your business strong by cultivating as much independence as you possibly can.

Focus on Long Term Success

A lot of people in the network marketing industry try to sell you on the idea that you can achieve instant success with your business opportunity. Overnight success does happen but it is very rare. Usually, what looks like an overnight success is actually the result of years of hard work behind the scenes.

It is best to focus on building a business for the long term. When you focus on attaining quick success, you will become easily frustrated because it won’t be happening fast enough for your tastes. Think of building your business as a marathon rather than a sprint. It may take awhile to reach the finish line but you will get there if you persist and persevere.

Your first year in network marketing will be an exciting roller coaster ride full of ups and downs. However, if you stick with it, you will lay a solid foundation that will contribute greatly to your small business success.