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Andrew Lawson - Business Coach

Andrew Lawson - Business Coach

 By Andrew Lawson www.bestpracticeconsulting.com.au

Businesses are often complacent about securing new and better quality clients, so that their development activities are minimal, or are not targeted to specific clients. Business development strategies are a key area to get right if you are striving to grow your client base or wish to discover ways to attract better quality clients.

Business development involves taking action so that it is better able to meet the needs of clients. This implies that your business:

 

  • has assessed the general and specific needs of clients
  • uses targeted business development strategies linked to specific needs
  • has ways of working that make clients feel comfortable and that address their specific needs
  • is open to regular feedback
  • is committed to continuous improvement.

Why use business development strategies?

Most businesses would agree that they primarily undertake business development strategies to grow their client lists and their revenue (= quantitative growth) and/or to get better at what they do (= qualitative growth). The most effective way to achieve both forms of growth is by focusing on meeting the needs of your clients. In a business development sense, meeting client needs is good for business because happy clients will return to your business time and time again. This builds repeat revenue. They will also usually refer people they know to the business, which in turn fuels word-of-mouth marketing and builds revenue further. In addition, feedback from clients continues to raise the bar in terms of quality.

So how do you undertake business development?

To ensure that you get the right clients for your practice the following four-step process is useful to consider.

Step 1: understand client needs 

Generally speaking all clients have four basic needs: to (a) be understood; (b) feel welcome; (c) feel important and (d) feel comfortable. However, there are a multitude of specific needs for people of different ages, sex, ethnicity, etc. Each of these needs must be catered for. The best way to determine your client needs is to ask them via client detail forms, one-on-one discussion and client surveys.  

Step 2: Align services with client needs

Once you fully understand client needs you need to link them to your business products or services using communication strategies, so that in the client’s mind their needs have been addressed. For example, if you run a medical practice a portion of your clients may regularly travel overseas so you could offer a travel vaccine service or a medical assessment service to address this need. The key business development function here is to let clients know about this service that aligns with their need.

Step 3: Provide services and an experience that meet or exceed client expectations

Team members need to be involved, empowered and trained to understand client needs and respond accordingly. Business owners and managers play a vital role in ensuring the team has clear guidance of what to do and why. Standardise the way you work so that you perform at a consistently high level. Make use of an office manual and use this as a resource for facilitating shared understanding. Always work on trying to exceed client expectations as part of your continuous improvement strategy.

Step 4: Determine whether client needs have been met

Ways to determine if client needs have been met include face-to-face meetings, follow-up phone calls or client satisfaction surveys.

Client satisfaction surveys allow for the collection and analysis of a large number of responses. Your survey should have specific questions about their needs, whether these needs are met, areas for improvement, etc. If you run a business which receives referrals, it is essential to survey clients and referrers as it is important understand the needs of both parties and to foster both relationships.

Once you have analysed your results share these with the team for their thoughts and feedback. Clients and staff may come up with a number of areas for action which affect business development, such as introducing new or improved services, changing staff attitudes to be more client focused, or using more effective written and verbal language to communicate with clients.

In conclusion
It is essential that business development focuses on meeting the needs of clients. Business development binds together all aspects of your workplace and is part of everyone’s role within the team. It is something we should all aspire to do on a day-to-day basis.

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Andrew Lawson - Business Coach

Andrew Lawson - Business Coach

Do you want to boost your business performance?
Do you desire greater returns from your business?
Are you open to ways of effectively improving your business?

Business success seems simple enough: you begin with a plan, you have some goals and strategies and you carry them out. However, the reality of operating a business can be very different.

The joy and freedom of running your own business can be clouded when business owners struggle for direction, get swamped by administration, suffer inconsistent cash flow and get stressed about staff or clients. Sound familiar? These problems can distract business owners from growing and taking their business to the next level.

Here are eight tried and tested techniques which focus on boosting your business.

1. “Start with the end in mind” (Dr Stephen Covey). Write down your goals and develop strategies for achieving these goals. Stay focused on things that meet you goals first.

2. Measure your performance. This feedback will let you know whether your strategies are working or not. This allows an opportunity to assess or change strategies.

3. Focus on your ideal clients. Know who are your most profitable clients, understand how to attract them and to convert these leads into sales. This is a big part of growing revenue.

4. Deliver outstanding client service. Ensure that every step of the client experience delivers a client-focused approach. Happy and satisfied clients will do business with you time and time again which builds ongoing revenue. In addition, they are great advocates for your business and they fuel your word-of-mouth promotion (which is FREE).

5. Get feedback from your clients. Find out what they like about you, what they don’t like and why they do business with you. You may also like to conduct client satisfaction surveys in order to make sure your clients’ needs are being met.

6. Invest in staff. Ongoing training programs show staff that the organisation is interested in and responsive to their needs for improvement. You also equip staff with the skills and tools to perform at their best, which is good for business.

7. Streamline and systemise. Create processes and systems that keep your operations running efficiently – and save time, energy and money in the long run. Think of the differences between a business with procedures and systems and one without and then consider what would happen to each business if you were hit by a bus tomorrow. Which would survive?

8. Be committed to continuous improvement. Review your practises, operations and performance regularly. Take time out to reflect on lessons learnt to improve the way you do things.

If you are worried about an aspect of your business or you would like an objective view of how you are performing or you would like to take your business to the next level, contact Andrew Lawson at Best Practice Consulting.

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