While business development battles are often waged on many fronts, ultimate success almost always starts with a battle plan. No matter how large or how small the battle, a well-thought-out strategy can fortify your defenses and prevent unacceptable losses.
Think of business development strategy and planning as a chess game. The moves you make will depend on a variety of factors. You have to understand where you are now, where you want to be and the best way to get there.
How do you want to grow your practice or your firm? Do you want to try to cross sell to expand business with existing Clients, or should you attempt to bring in new business from prospects. Is your best opportunity to leverage your referral sources or to emphasize your experience and knowledge in a niche area or industry? Should you focus on reputation building activities or would it be more productive to get face-to-face with Clients and prospects? Only when you have considered all of these moves will you be prepared to battle it out.
You must also take into consideration the moves of your opponents. The better you can anticipate their moves, the better prepared you will be to outflank them. You need to pay close attention to what your competitors are doing – and what they are failing to do. Which markets are they in now, and which ones do they plan to enter? Which Clients do they have now - and who do they plan to go after? Which practices areas do they currently focus on, and which ones may they be thinking about adding or eliminating? How are they perceived in the market – and what are they doing to affect or change this perception.
Before you can answer all of these questions and really plan your strategy, you will likely need some intel…