Last week I had a discussion with some old friends about business development in the current COVID-19 environment. A lot of the people I have talked to in the past looked at business development as a plan to reach out to new customers, to increase sales, to grow and expand their business. I found a simple definition in an article posted on Investopedia by Shobhit Seth:
What Is Business Development?
“In the simplest terms, business development can be summarized as the ideas, initiatives, and activities aimed towards making a business better.”
The phrase that caught my eye was “aimed towards making a business better.” In our discussion, we agreed that the best way to accomplish this is to take care of the customers you have. Any customer contact should be treated as an opportunity and turned into a transaction that can be documented, followed up on and measured. When a customer calls with a question, request, order or problem, these are all opportunities that need equal attention.
It is important to train your staff that any customer contact should be given their full attention. When a call comes in, take the time to get the customer’s name, address, phone number and email and then write out the reason for the call. The time to get this information is when the call comes in—when they are looking for something from you. Remember, the customer calling has spent valuable time to look up your company and to contact you. Too often, when I call a company and ask for someone, they tell me that person is not in at this time or they are tied up. I will say thank you and hang up. Companies that understand the value of every call will train their people to ask, before they give out any information, for the caller’s name and phone number then ask, “How can I help you?” They will also train their staff to own that customer transaction. It becomes their responsibility to complete that transaction and make sure the customer was well taken care of. How does that become a permanent record and who will follow up to make sure the customer is taken care of?
To most small businesses, business development programs and strategic sales initiatives sound overwhelming. Small changes and improvements focused on taking care of your customers will help you develop a better business over time and attract more customers.