Business as Unusual

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By Laura Merritt, AOE Special Projects Manager

2020 has been challenging to say the least. The impact of the Coronavirus has been felt in all sectors, and businesses have been tasked with finding new ways to ensure the safety of their employees, clients and suppliers, while meeting expectations for the products, services and solutions they provide. We are navigating uncharted territory that necessitate our focus on the here and now—the challenges with working from home, drastic reduction in networking opportunities and more. At the same time, leaders are also tasked with addressing what’s to come.

Business development, key to economic recovery, has been significantly impacted over the past several months and will continue to be for some time to come. But there are things businesses can do to better navigate the current climate and the foreseeable future of business as unusual to ensure continued growth and success.

The Society of Marketing Professional Services (SMPS) recently hosted a webinar on how to adapt your business development during the COVID crisis. Presenters Dianne Lee, Transformational Leader, Business Development and Client Engagement at Kitchell, and David Ackert, CEO, Ackert Inc., shared insights into how business development has evolved during the pandemic, how to stay visible in the current climate and how to find the silver lining. These insights include:

Just ask

One of the first things Kitchell did early in the pandemic was to survey its clients to better understand how their communication preferences may have changed amid COVID-19. They learned that clients still prefer email and text messages, similar to pre-COVID, yet are open to teleconferencing using platforms like Zoom, FaceTime, etc. The increased interest in video chats presents a great opportunity for the business developer to connect with his or her existing and potential customers when face-to-face is not an option.

Those surveyed also indicated that, even though they often feel inundated with information, they want to hear from business developers whenever there is a need to connect and when the developer has something of value to share. In addition, respondents strongly value business developers who have depth of knowledge, provide value and are consistent in following through.

Understanding the challenges your client or customer is facing and working to provide insights and solutions to their issues will demonstrate your commitment to helping them through these challenging times and solidify your relationship.

Don’t retreat!

According to Harvard Business Review, 80 percent of successful transactions require at least five follow-up interactions. Yet, particularly during these times, many business developers are hesitant to regularly reach out for fear of being a pest. Do not assume your customers are tired of hearing from you. Rather, they welcome your expertise and insights, particularly when you recognize their most pressing needs and can offer solutions.

When interacting with your clients, be purposeful and intentional. Provide information that will help reduce their risk, inefficiency, expense and/or stress. By providing your client or customer with valuable information and demonstrating that you want to be useful in the relationship, you will become an important asset, not a pest!

Yes, we are in a period of business as unusual with a return our pre-COVID normal nowhere in sight. Now is the time to touch base with customers, ask them how they are doing and how you can help, and be there for them when and how they need you. By adapting your business development practices today you will not only stay visible and relevant in 2020, you will help guide your business through these trying times to a future of continued growth and success.

Need help analyzing your business development strategy? Contact AOE today for a free discussion.

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