By Fran Goldstein | Sunday February 18, 2013
Business Development has a new DNA. It has changed, just as our business has changed as a result of technology, time constraints, and a new approach to doing business overall. The new DNA is for lack of a better term, a better DNA. Sales and marketing has become easier than ever and you should jump on the wave because your competition has taken a back seat when it comes to strategic business development.
It’s the new term for Sales Representative or Account Executive.
Business Development has been in in the Staffing and Recruiting profession for decades, it just has an updated name. It’s the new term for Sales Representative or Account Executive.
How much time do you spend on business development at your desk?
Do you have a business development plan or strategy?
As an industry trainer, I work with staffing and recruiting professionals in every segment of the market from fashion and creative to technical, finance and manufacturing. To be honest, I see a consistent shift in thinking about business development . The shift is that business development is now a low priority in the placement process. It has taken a back seat to … technology. Technology has in many ways, replaced business development as a tool for developing client and candidate relationships. Recruiters are “pinging” client’s holiday greetings instead of sending personalized cards. More communication is occurring on email than on the phone. New business is often met with a plethora of resumes evaluated through Boolean searches. What happened to our ability to access candidates and clients on the intangibles like culture, vision and attitude??
I understand that it is a virtual world. I get that time management continues to be an alligator you wrestle with on a daily basis. But not making the time to dedicate activity to business development is a loss for you and your clients. You are the expert in placement. You are the person you want your clients to call first with job openings. You want exclusives and you want full fees. You want to be known as a “thought leader”. And, you should be top of mind. You work relentlessly for your clients and candidates. You search social media and the internet for leads, jobs, and people. You write ads, you review hundreds of resumes and you negotiate fees every day. Some days you love recruiting and other days you think about finding a new career. I know. I witness it all the time.
Practicing business development can be simple to implement. By investing as little as half hour a day to business development, you will create more loyalty, stronger relationships and generate more business. You will penetrate more of the type of business you want to work on be it C Level, Retainer, Contract or the meatier longer term freelance orders.
Business development is easier to practice than you think. The first step is to create a simple plan that works with your schedule and doesn’t take a big bite out of your bottom line.
Start by identifying your top ten clients and prospects. Then take a look at what kind of and how much contact you have had with them the past month/quarter. Think about what you know about each of them personally and professionally.
Of course you are connected to each of them via social media. If not, start there. Connect via Linked in and Facebook. Linked In is the most powerful business tool out there because it provides business history and contacts for you. Facebook as we all know is a social or a more personal platform. Depending on where you are most comfortable, leverage social media to your advantage! Enough said about that.
Then go deeper in developing those relationships. Keep in mind you are a Consultant, which is by definition “someone who gives expert or professional advice.” You want to position yourself as the industry professional, the expert on placement. How can you communicate that? What Intel do you have that your clients are not aware of? How can you convey that to them in a value add way? Maybe it’s your own expertise in social media and the job market today. Maybe it’s talent acquisition? Interview tips? Market trends and forecasts? Whatever it is, put it out there! Write a comment, re-tweet something you find interesting, or better yet, write an article yourself about what you know.
By sharing your expertise with your top ten, you demonstrate the passion and commitment to being the best Consultant in the industry. Your competition may be doing that but odds are not as much as you think.
Acknowledge special events your clients are involved in. If you are in a global market and you know your clients attend trade shows and conferences, find out about them. Follow them. Have discussions with your clients about them. If you attend the same conferences, make it a point to meet them there and spend some quality face time together. You will bond. You will increase your own credibility. You will develop more business.
If you are a card writer, someone who sends birthday cards and congratulations cards and holiday cards on a regular basis to your personal connections, do the same for your business connections. It only takes a second and a stamp. Anything you can send a client that they might keep in their office or on their desk sets you apart. You want to create a buzz and stay top of mind on a consistent basis. Always.
Face to face meetings are the most powerful type of business development. Personally, I think they are also the most informative and fun! Get out of your office; take a break from your desk, your emails and your colleagues. Get out there and learn firsthand about your clients and their businesses. Who do they report to? What is their hiring forecast? What feedback can they provide you to increase your level of service? It’s free and it is quality control. Be aware of the tendency to attach yourself to your desk and wait for business to find you. Human beings, just like you, need human contact
You can change your DNA today by starting a business development plan and practice. Three easy steps to get you started; 1. Identify your top ten clients and prospects. 2. Map out monthly strategies to connect with each. 3. Learn as much as you can about your clients personally and professionally to truly partner with them. 3.5 Have fun with business development! Use it as a way to diversity your activities and take a break from technology for some good old fashioned face to face time. You deserve it!