Team Building For Business Development

To remain competitive and secure in the new economy, it is imperative that companies communicate to their employees the critical importance of proactive branding, marketing and business development. It is essential that Managements outline corporate sales objectives and needs thus creating an innovative business development atmosphere amongst all team members. The new corporate culture builds the team for “exciting-times ahead” by communicating the key strengths, opportunities and competitive advantages of their company by first ensuring that all stakeholders are “on-message”.

An astute business leader will subsequently promote branding, marketing and business development activities as factors vital to establishing the “next growth level” of the company. A well-defined brand experience, the creation of a strategic plan, addressing areas of improvement, identifying competition, and segmenting internal and external target audiences are critical components for continued success. Ultimately, all team members are to externally “transfer this knowledge” to clients, suppliers, prospective customers, community, and, of course, to their families. The number of sales people working on business development must directly reflect the number of employees in the firm, e.g., a 100-person firm has 100 business development people. In the new economy, the act of “team selling” is no longer a “luxury” for a select few but a critical “necessity” for all.

Five Key Steps to Creating the Brand Strategy, Building the Team Spirit
and Launching the Brand Experience:

Strategic Research and Planning

o Mission Statement Development
o Vision Statement Development
o Business Planning
o S.W.O.T. Assessment
o Competition Analysis Assembly
o Risk Assessment Review

Sourcing Your Competitive Advantages

o Unique Selling Proposition Construction
o Brand Experience Program Creation
o Sales and Marketing Planning
o Product and Service Lifecycle Investigation
o Sales Team Building
o Corporate Sales Scripting

Business Development Strategies in Legal Publishing Can Work for You

Hoping people will buy your published material or products will be the death of your business! No longer is the traditional one-way publishing model or company-centric thinking acceptable or profitable. According to Mark Rousseau, General Manager for Findlaw/Lexpert at Thomson Carswell, “You need to find out what the client’s needs are and develop products and services to address those needs to succeed in today’s business world.”

Let’s take for example, Mark Rousseau’s growth mandate of 30% compounded growth over the next 5 years. How does he plan to achieve this? According to Mark, they are undertaking a number of business development initiatives to meet their division’s growth objective.

Thomson Carswell acquired Lexpert Magazine in 2004 from entrepreneur and publisher John Alexander Black and hired Mark Rousseau who has more than 20 years of publishing experience to operate and grow the business. The staff size has since doubled from 15 to 30 employees. According to Mark, “the only other thing that has changed is billing and IT which has been centralized with Thomson Carswell’s operations”. The entrepreneurial operation of the publication itself has remained intact.

Always thinking of ways to grow the business, Mark Rousseau has shifted their advertising focus to include new potential advertisers in the business-to-business and luxury goods categories. This makes perfect sense when you realize that the average corporate reader’s annual income is in excess of $150,000!

If you want to be viewed as an industry leader, be the first to do something different! Lexpert is leading the way by planning and hosting the first ever Rising Stars Awards show this November for the top 40 Canadian Corporate Counsel and Leading Lawyers in private practice under age 40, in partnership with The Globe and Mail. This out of the box thinking has also led to other innovative initiatives. According to Mark Rousseau, the pilot for their business development course was so successful last year that they are planning to do six 1 ½ days business development courses in 2006. Each course will be taught by a leading lawyer in a specific practice area with his/her own unique course material for a maximum of 30 corporate counsel and senior level executives.

Building strategic partnerships is not a new idea but if you are able to leverage your partnerships like Lexpert has done with the two national dailies in Canada, National Post and The Globe & Mail, you too can have a captive audience of senior business executives in exchange for current and relevant corporate deal news. Once a week, features from Lexpert’s Big Deals column appear in the Legal Post section of the National Post; and coming soon, a new deal with The Globe and Mail which takes effect on Oct 1, 2006 will further assist Lexpert’s clients in reaching their target market of Canadian business executives.

Lexpert, now part of the global information powerhouse Thomson Corporation, understands the importance of leverage. Through joint initiatives with their U.S. sister companies Thomson West (the largest legal information provider in the U.S.) and Findlaw (a popular U.S. legal Internet site), Lexpert has been able to successfully enter the U.S. legal marketplace and reach 15,000 U.S. Corporate Counsel and 10,000 Leading U.S. lawyers with their magazine. They now do a 25,000 mailing twice a year in the U.S. market with the help of their U.S. siblings, to provide valuable exposure for their Canadian advertising clients and to increase the magazine’s readership beyond Canadian borders.

With an increasing base of web savvy clients, Mark Rousseau also plans to have everything in print, available online and has a team of web developers revamping their corporate web site at http://www.lexpert.ca to improve their users’ navigational experience. For example, if you are a corporate lawyer, you will be directed to view information on the site that is relevant to you.

Lexpert is certainly no stranger to launching successful products into the legal marketplace. Their print publications like “Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory”; “Lexpert/American Lawyer Media Guide to the Leading Top 500 Lawyers in Canada”; “Lexpert/CCCA Directory and Yearbook”; and “Lexpert Law Student & Associate Recruitment Guide” have all been well received by their intended markets. Even their much anticipated online product Deal Monitor, currently under development and slated to be released before the end of this year, is bound to be another huge success as this product promises to address the needs and demands of their key clients.

With assistance from Thomson Financial and Thomson West, this database will consist of Canadian and U.S. based corporate deals dating back 5 years. This online subscription tool will have analytical capabilities such as trending with historical data, customized search capabilities, and the ability to produce custom graphs and much more. According to Mark, they are not a magazine but “a vehicle to help their clients develop their business”. He contributes much of their success to the close relationships they have developed with their clients.

For those starting a publishing business, he recommends focusing on the web, as the print publishing industry is saturated and a tough model to build and sustain. He also suggests that you get audience generated content to guarantee the readership of your publication.

The moral of this story, no matter what industry you are from, finding out what your clients’ needs are and developing products and services to address those needs is the key to your company’s success and profitability.

Article Summary of Best Practices for Business Development:

– Find out what your clients’ needs are and develop products and services to address those needs

– Create a solid business plan to help achieve your company’s growth objective

– Research the demographics of your target audience to expand in the right direction

– Be the first out of the box with something new in your industry

– Create opportunities to allow your clients to demonstrate their expertise

– Form and leverage strategic partnerships

– Invest in the development of products and services that your target market needs & would pay for

– Create a company web site that is easy to navigate and provides a good user experience

– Have your products and services available online

– Focus on building partnership relationships with your clients

– Research the industry you are thinking of entering

– Survey your clients or potential clients for new ideas

Top 10 Trends in Sales and Business Development for 2014

Will companies be hiring more salespeople in 2014? What will companies do to stand out from the competition? Will CRM systems expand or contract? How will the economy impact business growth? These are some common questions I hear as I address audiences around the world. Here are my predictions for the ideas and trends that will shape sales and business development in 2014.

1. Evolution of Subject Matter Experts

Buyers can now get just about all of the information about your company, products, and services from your website. However, what they do not have is the trends, best practices, or creative applications that determine whether or not there is a fit for the customer’s situation. Buyers will continue to value the subject matter experts.

If you want to know whether or not you rise to this standard already, ask yourself if your ideal clients would value the meeting from your team enough that they would pay for the session. If so, then you might already be there. If not, then you have a goal for 2014.

2. Content Becomes Emperor

Last year, people said, “content is king.” In 2014, content will continue to be the core to building value and getting heard above the noise. Buyers (and Google) value the best educators, as Marcus Sheridan of TheSalesLion.com says. It used to be that companies feared sharing their best stuff on their websites. As more initial investigations for solutions move to search engines, your ability to stand out from the crowd comes down to whether or not you are addressing the most important questions for your ideal customer. If you are stuck with your head in the sand, you might just get run over.

3. Continued Shift Toward Vertical vs. Geographic Focus

The shift from vertical to geographic focus tends to work in cycles. With the advancement in video-based communication and collaborative technologies, geography becomes slightly less of a big deal. However, the increased value placed on subject matter expertise will shift the table in a big way in 2014 toward vertical markets.

4. Collaborative Sourcing and Selling

Over the past five years, there was a trend of buyers beating up on weaker suppliers. While the short-term goal of the buyer was a reduction in costs, the unintended consequence was the destruction of many suppliers and companies who either lacked a competitive advantage, or failed to identify their lack of negotiation and sales prowess before it was too late. Ultimately, buyers lost a portion of their supply chain. The more sophisticated buyers will seek sellers with whom they can work collaboratively to obtain the greatest value. Buyers realize that the cheapest price has little meaning if the vendor cannot deliver as needed.

Collaborative selling will reward results and outcomes, but will continue to punish those selling commodities.

5. The Shift Toward Project-Based Services Engagements

Buyers have discovered that paying by the hour creates a disincentive for innovation and efficiency. The longer it takes the vendor, the more they earn. However, for the client, the faster they get a solution, the better. The hourly-vendor who delivers the most efficiently makes the least money. In 2014, the top performing professional services organizations will start shifting as much as 30% of their billing to project-based, or outcome-based pricing (with assumptions to protect themselves). Buyers want results, and they’ll pay for it. However, the savvy customer rarely wants to sign a blank check for hours of time without a defined outcome.

6. Sick of Waiting for the Economy – Build your own

Most economists say that the economy will continue to bump along in 2014. Innovative companies with a great story will start putting their capital reserves to work to build their own economy. The economy grows when businesses grow. And, those with creativity and value will get tired of waiting for the so-called “economy” and will build their own environment to thrive. This will drive accelerated growth in the latter half of 2014 to carry into a strong 2015.

7. Hiring Trend for 2014

Recognize that there is a need for subject matter experts. Be on the lookout for businesses cross-training their subject matter experts on how to manage a sales process. Those who do hire sales professionals or sales managers will rely more on specialized recruiters to ensure their next hire is the right one. Hiring people who were just looking for work has burned many companies. Often, the hiring companies discovered that those people were out of work for a reason. There are great ways to find a gem without using a recruiter, but recruiters are still the best way to attract superstars from other companies.

8. Simplified CRM Solutions

Years ago, companies realized they needed something beyond a spreadsheet (or napkin) to keep track of their business pursuits. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solutions emerged to maintain knowledge, automate forecasting, and improve communication. However, over time, the CRM solutions have taken on a life of their own. The data entry requirements had become so overbearing that few organizations enforced compliance (mostly because the only people who filled out all of the fields were the worst performing reps). Look for a shift in 2014 for companies to identify the top eight (or three) pieces of information they need to understand if a deal is legitimate or not. They will ask reps to maintain fewer pieces of information, but will require compliance.

9. Better Qualification for Efficient Pipelines

It used to be that if a company was trying to reach $5 million in revenue, it would often look for a pipeline of $8 to $10 million. Today, companies often set a three to five-time multiplier. So, for $5 million, they pursue $15 million to $25 million in opportunities. Sharp organizations have started tracking the cost associated with pursuing unlikely deals. Instead of chasing everything, companies will define specific criteria for what makes a good pursuit, and which ones should be dead on arrival. The definition maintains focus, and preserves resources for the proper pursuit of the opportunities that deserve the company’s attention. Look for companies to qualify based on the relative impact and importance to the customer of solving the issue, rather than the desire of the company to sell something.

10. Honesty Prevails

With so much hype and old-school tactics, buyers will reward sellers who identify their own limitations. Claiming you are an expert at everything will be hard to believe when the buyer can search to discover the truth. Humility and candor will be sought after skills in 2014.

Building Blocks of Business Development

Everyone has dreamt of becoming his/ her own boss. And the way to do this is by putting up a business. However, only a few people have realized their plans and much fewer succeed at it. People say that businessmen, aside from having the money to start their own business, have a certain skill which few people are blessed with. They are risk-takers. Business development in some way is like gambling. An entrepreneur invests money, time and effort into a venture that has a fifty-fifty success to failure ratio. This is the very reason why a lot of dreamers do not pursue their business ambitions. Successful businessmen have mastered and formulated their own recipe for success but it all boils down to careful planning. Because they may be risk-takers but they are also careful planners.

There is no definite formula in business development. There are different strategies that can be formulated depending on the nature and size of the business itself. But there are factors that should not be left out and it applies to all.

  1. Recognize the opportunity. Assess the market. Identify what is out there and what is not offered yet. In determining the business venture to tap into, the status and the demand of the market need to be considered and its potential evaluated. A reason for putting up a business is not only because there is something to offer but there should also be a market to offer it to.
  2. Customers come first. The business should revolve around the customer. After all, they are the ones who will keep the business alive. It is important to get to know the target market, to identify not only their needs and wants but what they potentially need or want which they do not know yet. But the population is enormous so it is also necessary to identify the most profitable customers. Hence, the primary target has to be separated from the secondary market. However, demographics should not be the only focus. There should also be a behavioural and lifestyle analysis of the customers.
  3. How to reach them. By knowing the customer, target points will then be determined. Where are these customers likely to be found or how to get to them? This involves the different media that the target utilizes in a day-to-day basis such as TV, Radio, Print, billboard, point of sale, Internet, etc.
  4. How to sell. Once the target’s whereabouts is identified, the next step is to use sweet spots to get them to buy. What can attract their attention and what can convince them. Do they respond to sales promotion or do they rely on word of mouth, etc.
  5. Generate repeat business. Satisfy the customers and exceed their expectations not only to keep them under the radar but also to generate good publicity.

Nothing is a hundred percent sure but business development should also not be a hit and miss. It’s risky but careful planning and perseverance will increase the likeliness to succeed.