The world of B2B buyers is changing too fast to put your business development plan on a "set it and forget it" mode. What worked last year probably won't work this year and at a minimum, your plan is due for a major update this year.
As buying processes become longer with more people involved, you have to innovate just to be considered. The average B2B buyer completes 60% or more of her process before ever reaching out to a salesperson.
Your first task is to have the buyer find you in her research stage and provide the content that she needs to put you on the shortlist. She's busy and doesn't have time to wade through tons of text to find the information she needs. It's your job to make it easy for her to find the information she needs to start a conversation.
When you begin the conversation, it's important to understand as much of the context as possible BEFORE conversation. If she's on third base and you're starting at first, you may have already lost her. Lead intelligence and preparation are crucial to having a conversation that results in business opportunities and customers.
So what are the things that you need to look at to put yourself in a favorable position to grow? The checklist below will help you update your plan to be successful in the modern B2B buying paradigm.
Refocus your plan
Are you focusing on market segments in which you have experience and can provide unique value? Focus is the foundation of a successful business development plan. Here are the things you should be thinking about to refine your focus.
- What new developments are customers in your target market facing? How can your solution help address these new challenges?
- Are there new markets you can enter by exploiting relationships or your unique value proposition?
- Are there target markets you should consider leaving? Can you better use resources you're devoting to those markets in your core markets?
- Review the profitability of your customers by market segment to more efficiently focus.
- Does your content marketing help answer questions and educate buyers in your target markets?
- Do you have a clear idea of how your target market buys your solution? Who is involved in the decision? What information do they need to buy from you?
When reviewing your target markets, it's a good idea to bring in your customer service team to get their input on what clients are telling them.
Are you using technology effectively
Growth platform technology (CRM, marketing and sales) is affordable and widely available. Now is the time to review how you're using technology and consider how new technology can better support your processes. Here are some questions to ask.
- Do managers have a clear insight into sales pipeline and performance? Can they quickly ascertain the status of opportunities being worked?
- Are you effectively using your website to capture new leads? Does your user experience design provide an easy way for your target prospects to find information and interact with your marketing?
- Does your blog offer a clear path for prospects to learn more about problems they face and become leads?
- Are you using templated emails and email sequences to generate outbound prospects?
- Are you using technology to qualify leads and focus your resources on high-probability opportunities?
- Are you able to measure performance of your sales and marketing campaigns so that you can optimize them?
- Does your technology offer team members a common view of how a customer and prospect interact with your company?
- Are you using chatbots to allow customers and prospects to interact with you?
Customer service optimization
As buyers trust in business erodes, your satisfied customers are your most valuable marketing resource. Here are some things to think about as you update your business development plan.
- Do you have a formal stewardship process in which your review your performance with customers?
- Do you have a defined process to encourage referrals from existing customers?
- Do you have a strategy to upsell and cross-sell existing customers?
- Have you interviewed customers to help anticipate their needs as your business relationship evolves?
- Are you measuring customer satisfaction?
The more you communicate with your customers, the better your able to meet their needs as well as those of similarly-situated prospects.
These are some of the things you should be thinking about as you revisit your business development plan. It's not just about updating your revenue goals, you need to think about how you can most effectively attain them.