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.

Back to Basics: Understand the Full Cycle of Business Development to Get More Contracts

My 7-year-old daughter, when working on a puzzle, knows to glance at the whole picture first, before starting to assemble the pieces. So, her process is to study the picture, and then find a corner piece to which she then starts adding pieces.

We, as adults, sometimes forget to take a step back and look at the whole picture first when we solve our own puzzles: how to grow our company, how to get a contract, or how to bring in revenue. This is why an important tip for winning government contracts is to step back and take a few minutes to ponder the full life-cycle of business development. This way we can be better at putting the pieces together.

The several steps below shows a typical business development life-cycle for a government contracting company.

Step 1: Strategic business development planning is the corner piece of the puzzle. It is necessary because it becomes your beacon when you start looking at a universe of opportunities. Businesses often fall into a trap of working without a plan, or writing the plan once, and then leaving it to collect virtual (and physical) dust while they are engaged in the routine day-to-day operations. The trick here is to stick to the plan that you keep up to date, and avoid jumping at every opportunity that may have nothing to do with the plan but seems attractive at the moment.

Step 2: Market research is the next step. It goes hand-in-hand with your strategic business development plan and makes the whole planning process somewhat iterative. In order for you to plan, you need to know which vertical markets you are going to go into, and who are your ideal customers. This leads you to more detailed research, which then feeds your planning process.

Step 3: Pipeline development is the natural outcome of your market research. Now that you know which agencies and which areas you are going to explore, you will need to zoom in further and develop a list of opportunities that you are then going to narrow down further and further as you learn more about them. These opportunities will be in the near term with a request for proposal coming out in 1-6 months, the mid-term – with an opportunity expected to open up in the next 6 months to 1 year, and long term – 1-5 years out. Some of the large and important opportunities may then make it into your strategic plan – and you may start calling them strategic bids or must-win opportunities. Marketing to the federal government is related to the overall effort of attracting customers to your company, and creating awareness of your brand and offers.

Step 4: Opportunity identification narrows down the list to the select few pursuits that you decide to dedicate a significant effort to pursue. Each of these individual opportunities then enters the capture phase.

Step 5: Capture management. Capture (yes, it’s what it’s called in the professional business development circles) often is the longest step in the business development life-cycle. It has to do with positioning yourself pre-proposal for a specific opportunity. A proposal usually has a short deadline, whereas capture may take years. It doesn’t necessarily mean years of someone doing it full time. It means years of deliberate activities all leading you up to the victory. For example, I once ran a capture effort for 2.5 years for a billion dollar plus pursuit, but only spent $50,000 on my time and the time of an entire team of specialists during the first two years. It was not until the last 6 months of the capture effort that we had to focus a lot and start spending more money.

Step 6: Proposal management. Proposal management (or proposal preparation) is essentially just that: managing the development of a winning proposal document to deliver it by the deadline. It is an iterative process that usually involves multiple contributors and a set of reviews to check quality and progress. Here are some of the most important characteristics of a winning proposal, majority of which stem from a well-run capture effort:

– Matching the solution with the customer’s wishes and vision through a solid capture effort.
– Great process that gets you to the deadline without undue stress and allows you sufficient time to polish your document.
– Targeted features and benefits, with a clear value proposition.

Step 7: BD during implementation. The reason contract delivery is part of the business development life cycle is simple: once you have a government contract, the ground is ripe for adding scope (what is called “an up-sell” in sales).

Your people who work on the project with the customer are your eyes and ears if you train them correctly in the capture process. They can find out about the need for additional work, and inform your business developer. Your business developer will pay a visit to the government representative, learning more about the requirements. They can then use this information to submit a white paper or an unsolicited proposal. This may result in adding scope to your existing contract.

Your staff on the ground can also tell your business developers about other requirements they may be hearing about that may not yield themselves to adding scope. These are new additions to your pipeline – but these additions are infinitely more valuable than others because you get to hear about them early, they are from an existing customer that bought from you before and therefore trusts you more, and you already have a relationship.

During implementation, you also generate past performance track record that you can leverage in your next proposal. On the other hand, if you don’t do well, then you get to tarnish your record with the government very quickly – and this record proliferates from this customer to other government agencies through various past performance databases. It is important that once you have won a contract, you do a great job. Do whatever it takes to deliver and please your customer.

So, now you have the big picture, and know how all the pieces of the business development puzzle are supposed to fit together.

How to Take the Pressure Out of Business Development

One of the main reasons why salespeople fail in sales is their lack of attention to business development. Business development is integral to sales success yet many salespeople I have spoken to avoid or put minimal effort into prospecting activities. This in my opinion borders on sales call reluctance.

What is business development?

• Business development is about developing new business with both potential and existing clients
• A sale rarely happens on the first meeting. It requires multiple and varying touch points such as the phone, social media and email over a period of time
• Business development needs to be consistently implemented to maximize new sales opportunities and to create sales growth.

Creating new sales opportunities

The less you know about a potential client the more difficult it is to succeed in getting a meeting. Your targeted clients can be divided into:

• No Information – you know nothing about the organization and have no contacts
• Limited Information – you have some information about the organization but haven’t developed any contacts.

Strategies to connect with potential clients you have never contacted

• Use social media to gain information that you could use
• Phone direct once you have developed your value statement
• Use 6 degrees of separation – who knows who within your circle of influence who knows the potential client?

The ‘cold’ call

The term ‘cold’ has been used in sales for decades and conjures false thoughts and feelings. There is nothing cold about contacting a prospective client for the first time. It’s new but not cold so could I suggest you replace ‘cold’ with ‘new?’ Words impact on how we feel.

Words impact on how we feel

Salespeople often struggle and can become mentally immobilized when calling a potential client because:

• They put too much pressure on themselves to make the appointment
• They become self-centered instead of focusing on the client
• They become fearful of saying the wrong thing
• They have a push instead of a pull mindset
• They start selling when the client isn’t in the process of buying
• They use words and phrases commonly used by most salespeople
• They try to take short cuts.

Salespeople often start by talking about themselves and their company. For example, “The reason for calling is I’d like to set up an appointment to introduce myself and tell you about our new product/service”.

The attention needs to be on what is in it for the potential client. This is done by stating value from their perspective and can be measured. A value statement can be tangible and/or intangible that lets the potential client know what they can expect when using your product/service. Intangible value is not easy to measure, for example lower risk, sense of well-being and trust. Measures can be expressed as a percentage, timeframe, or in financial terms.

Measures can be expressed as a percentage, timeframe, or in financial terms.

For example, “We completed a project recently with a company of your size and reduced their overheads by 20% without losing one employee. Would you be interested in how we did this?”

Words that communicate value are and not limited to:

Improve, increase, reduce, downtime, productivity, operating cost, turnaround, maximize, minimize, downtime, save, eliminate, enhance, cut, gain and profit.

Success in business development requires persistence and consistency using a variety of touch points whilst focusing on stating value from the client’s perspective. This will provide you with the greatest opportunity to secure an initial meaningful conversation and a meeting.

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.