Be a boss of business development

Written on Jan 29, 2018

By Thera Wright Gialluca, manager, strategic relations

One of the most important skills that isn't taught in a classroom is business development. It’s essential to career success and understanding even the basics will give you leverage in helping your company be more profitable. Luckily, when it comes to learning business development skills, the fundamentals are simple, easy to build on and flexible to adapt to your personality.

The need to connect directly with the consumer is not a novel concept. However, technology, social media and other marketing channels have only amplified this need, because of the crowded, noisy marketplace. We talked with Danetha Doe, former controller turned entrepreneur and consultant, to help us break down the most important aspects of conquering business development.

“I often hear that senior staff wish employees were more proactive in following up with potential clients and keeping an eye out for additional service opportunities,” Doe said.

It sounds simple enough—promote your products and service offerings to potential new clients or customers. Unfortunately, sometimes the old “go-to” of sales 101 might fail you, and you are left wondering what went wrong. Here are three helpful tips to aid you in building new business.

1. Listen more than you speak.
The conversation should never be about you. When speaking to prospective clients, avoid talking about the services and features of your company. Make a conscious effort to ensure you are doing more listening and less speaking.

When it does come time for you to talk, Doe said it is very important not to rattle off the canned descriptions of your services or products. Instead, speak about how the company will address the problems or pain points the prospective client is facing. Don’t be afraid to ask questions that will help you understand what those might be.

2. Focus on the relationship.
To bring home the new client sale, you must create a trusting relationship. To master this from the first conversation, do your research ahead of time to understand:

•The company’s history, products and services. Anticipate their needs and be ready with solutions or ideas.
•Check out their social media pages.
•Read reviews of the company to learn what some of their pain points could be.
•Find out the role of the particular person you are meeting with.
•Think outside the box. What are other areas where you could add value?


3. Don’t rely on referrals.

This is a passive marketing strategy and is no longer successful. Clients are now using online reviews and articles to conduct their own due diligence, as opposed to solely relying on referrals from colleagues. A recent Google study found people are typing in the phrase "Is it worth it..." followed by a certain product or service to gage what others online have experienced. What does this mean for the staff? According to Doe, this means everyone should proactively market and brand themselves.

Doe said this is what you need to remember:

•Be clear about your firm/company’s value proposition. Make it clear how your organization stands out from the competitors.
•Identify a clear customer profile.
•Determine the main strategy you will implement to acquire new business, such as networking events, social media, speaking engagements or other avenues.

Need help with your business development skills? Join us for an interactive workshop on how to bring in new business by effectively engaging with clients at the 2018 Business Development Workshop, June 7 or June 8. Visit www.store.ohiocpa.com and look for product #51380 for June 7 and product #51379 for June 8.

The workshop will be hosted by Danetha Doe, a consultant for professional athletes and Fortune 500 companies who was named a “Top 40 under 40 Accounting Professional” by CPA Practice Advisor.

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