A recent survey stated that the single biggest challenge business owners face today is getting new business. Put another way, the issue is growing top-line revenue through the acquisition of new clients.
The question that needs to be asked in order to properly address the challenge is "what is your plan for getting new business?"
Some owners opt to take the reactive position of sitting and waiting for clients to come to them. That may work for a company with a very strong reputation and long term market presence.
But most organizations have to be tightly focused when it comes to expanding their base of business because business climates change quickly.
Last week I overheard someone say "My entire industry is disappearing." Who is responsible for that? Deflecting the blame is always easier than looking in the mirror.
By doing more of the same, the business will get more of the same. This is the time to revise strategies that are not working and do things differently.
What does it take for this to happen?
Two things: first, a change in mindset from being a victim, and second, being proactive, taking and accepting personal responsibility for what needs to happen internally to make things better.
Every business should use between three and five different activities to gain new clients. Each activity must be tracked for effectiveness.
Begin the process with the list of current clients, and analyze how they became clients. That should be the starting point for determining new business development activities.
In order to be successful at new business development, six things need to take place. While it would be nice to delegate this area of responsibility, the truth is that the owner is probably best suited to lead the effort, if not do it personally. The benefit to this is that it forces the owner to work on the business; not just "in" the business.
The first priority is that time needs to be set aside for new business development. It cannot be an afterthought; it cannot be the last thing on the daily list of things to do. It needs to be done when the energy is high. If the business wants more revenue from new clients, time has to be scheduled, honored and kept. The more time is scheduled, the better.
The second is that distractions must be eliminated. To be successful, the person working on the new business development effort has to be focused on that single activity during the committed time.
The third is to develop a calendar. Each activity should be listed. Each day should have specific activities listed and resources assigned. Not every activity needs to have a dollar cost, but the time should be allocated.
The fourth priority is to stick with it. New business development takes time. According to research conducted on the subject, 89.8 percent of all sales efforts are ended at the fourth contact with a prospect. It takes a minimum of seven contacts to gain the attention of the prospect.
The fifth is the development of a short, to-the-point presentation that is 100-percent client-focused. Eliminate anything not related to what the prospects challenges, problems and opportunities are.
The sixth is an accountability tool. Whoever is doing new business development has to be held to account for executing the activities that will bring in new clients. Without this critical component in place, efforts are likely to be unsuccessful.
New business development is a marathon, not a sprint. Successful organizations make the commitment to having a new business development plan, and they consistently execute. The role of the owner in all of this is to make it a priority and to make it happen.