The term "business development" means different things to different people. For purposes of this article, I will use Scott Pollack's definition of business development from his article in Forbes: Business development is the creation of long-term value for an organization from customers, markets, and relationships.
This definition encompasses marketing, sales, branding and thought leadership in relationship to creating "long-term value" for an organization. It can be thought of the overarching efforts of your company to generate revenue and improve your reputation as an industry leader.
Secondly, we need to define SMART goals. SMART Goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely. Here's an example of a SMART goal: to increase sales from product line A by 35% in the third quarter of 2016.
Here's an example of a goal that isn't a SMART Goal: I want to increase sales. It's not specific and you can't measure it because you haven't attached any numerical values to it. It may be attainable, but we won't know until you define by how much you want to increase sales. It's not timely because there's no timeline assigned to achieving the goal.
With those two definitions in mind, here are 5 SMART Goals For Business Development.
SMART Goal 1: Social media interactions
Social media interactions are a measure of how relevant your content is and of your perception as a thought leader in your industry. Likes, shares, retweets and favorites are a consequence of publishing good marketing content. They also spread your message beyond your immediate network to the followers and connections of the people interacting with your content.
Sample Goal: To get 400 social media interactions in the third quarter of 2016.
SMART Goal 2: LinkedIn website referrals and leads
This is another measure of your company's social selling efforts. For B2B companies, a robust LinkedIn social selling effort is becoming a requirement for sales success. But many consider it a "squishy" endeavor - they feel it's difficult to measure how social selling is supporting their company's revenue growth and reputation.
When done correctly, LinkedIn social selling is not direct selling. It's a matter of participating in LinkedIn Groups, helping people solve problems and occasionally sharing your company's marketing content. When done properly, social selling elicits interest in your and your company.
Hopefully, people in your sphere of influence will view your profile, visit your website and convert as leads on your premium content offers as a result of your social selling efforts. You can also publish content directly on LinkedIn through the publishing feature.
Sample Goal: To get 200 website referrals and 25 leads from LinkedIn by June 30, 2016.
SMART Goal 3: Referral sales
Referral sales are the consequence of providing excellent service to your customers and should be included in any business development plan. Many businesses don't have a systematic process in place to ask for referrals; they should, because asking for referrals is often a pre-requisite to getting them.
If you've provided excellent service to a customer and have quantifiable results, asking for referrals and testimonials should come naturally. But you need to have a process in place to make sure you ask for them.
We recommend asking for referrals as part of your stewardship review process. After you've completed a project or a sale, a stewardship review is a process where you sit down with the customer and review what went right, what went wrong and how you could improve your service. Assuming that all went well, it's natural to conclude the process by asking, "Do you know of anyone else who may benefit from working with us?"
Sample goal: To make 5 referral sales totalling $500,000 in revenue in 2016.
SMART Goal 4: Website visits and leads
To successfully compete in today's business world, the vast majority of B2B firms should have an inbound marketing channel. It's just the way people buy nowadays - searching for information on your company and its products and services with search engine queries and learning about your company on social media. The Corporate Executive Board found that the average B2B buyer completes 57% of her sales process before ever contacting a sales person.
With inbound marketing, buyers find you by reading your blog and your social media posts. They become leads by sharing contact information with you in exchange for premium content offers like eBooks, webinars and whitepapers.
The primary measures of how well your inbound marketing efforts are contributing to your sales pipeline are monthly website visitors and leads generated.
Sample goal: 3,000 monthly website visits and 60 inbound leads in the third quarter of 2016.
SMART Goal 5: Customer churn
Customer churn is defined as the amount of customers you lost in a given time period divided by the number of customers you had at the beginning of the time period. New customers aren't included in customer churn. For example, if you had 50 customers at the beginning of the month and you lost 5, your churn rate would be 10%.
Customer churn is an existential goal for any business development strategy. Bain & Company found that the cost of acquiring a new customer is 6 to 7 times that of keeping an existing one. Clearly, managing customer churn is a crucial business development strategy.
Sample goal: Reduce customer churn to 3% in the third quarter of 2016.
As many readers have probably already observed, we left out the most obvious business development goal: increasing total revenue by a measurable amount in a specific time frame. This clearly should be in every company's SMART goals.
The purpose of this article was to show you that you can create SMART goals for just about every business development initiative you undertake. Once you've developed your SMART goals, it's time to move to the tactical level to figure out your plan to achieve your goals. Another key element of managing business development based on SMART goals is that you can check in periodically to see if you're on track. If you're not, it may be time to change tactics.
By implementing SMART goals for your business development process, you drastically increase your chances for business success.