Growing Your Business From the Inside

The definition of business success is growth. Increasing revenue drives most sales organizations. However, there are two aspects the growth formula that are often underlooked; or, at least, underemphasized – client retention and business development in existing accounts.

The most efficient channel for increases or improvements to profitable revenues is maintaining the business relationships you have and leveraging those relationships to offer and deliver more.

Your best customers are your most efficient channel for new business opportunities. Yet, many organizations struggle to create and discover these opportunities. For the most part it is because they have become so proficient at being satisfied with the existing relationship that they fail to understand or recognize how to expand and build on it.

The first place I would look for revenue expansion is with my best, favorite and most trusted clients. Note, I would not be walking in simply trying to “sell them more”, I would be working at discovering how I can become a better resource to them and what else I may be able to provide to improve or enhance their business. Accomplishing this requires a focused strategic commitment to enhancing the relationship.

There are four steps to applying a business development strategy in your existing and key accounts:
1. Build a team and expand your contact base: Sales professionals are very proficient at knowing who their key contact is in an account. Their traditional approach is to strengthen that single point of contact relationship to the fullest. In a revenue expansion strategy that is not enough. Instead of having a lot of connections over several companies, an effective business development strategy requires multiple connections throughout the organization at multiple contact points. A single point of contact or a single contact point from your organization puts all relationships at risk.

A strong business development strategy requires that your organization is connected into your key clients at multiple levels with multiple relationships sources, i.e. your CEO/Owner, VP of Sales, VP of Marketing, or Director of Customer Service, etc. having developed and leveraged relationships in your key accounts at similar valued levels. Multiple relationships, at various organizational and functional levels, through varied contact points provides offers your organizational broader information, influence and insight. This is a very powerful strategic tool.

2. Assign a knowledge holder for your key accounts: You can utilize a CRM to manage data and information; however, like a reporter, every key account requires a knowledge holder. That knowledge holder is responsible for sharing the news of every single conversation with all others leveraging and developing relationships in that key account. Sharing the information in a timely manner enables the team to make prompt strategic moves in that account and enables the team to be more engaged and proactive to news, information, and opportunity.

3. Create a metric and meeting rhythm for the team: Being on a key account team means nothing if people do not know their roles or accountabilities. Every team member has accountabilities to the rest of the team for their role in building and expanding their relationship base in a key account. They are also accountable for gathering and sharing information to the team in a timely manner through the “knowledge holder.” As a result, I would encourage everyone to establish a metric for “new relationships” and “impactful conversations” that is a measurable accountability tool. Also, even if it is only a fifteen minute weekly huddle, all key account teams must connect, communicate, collaborate and strategize on a regular basis.

4. Pay attention to discover and create opportunity: You cannot create opportunity in an existing account just because it is a good idea – nobody cares what you want to accomplish or “sell”. However, as you expand your relationship base within an account and become a more influential valued resource, the potential for the team to discover and create new business opportunities is enhanced significantly. This is the value of a multi-faceted “deep and wide” business development strategy. More conversations, with more people, with diverse perspectives, opinions and needs provides a fantastic opportunity to add value. The fundamental component of this strategy is found in creating a focused, disciplined, and intelligent process with a long-term commitment to its execution and development.

Businesses that grow best, grow intentionally. Intention is the focused, disciplined, and strategic application of a business development process that works. The above business development process works best in your key accounts because you already have a valued relationship with them, you already have access to their team, and they already value what you are providing them. To take this relationship to another level requires the commitment of a team, the productive gathering and sharing of information, and the ability to nimbly and deftly execute a timely growth strategy. Nothing is more productive that growing within an existing account – the trick is coordinating the resources in order to accomplish it.

Getting Involved in Global Development

Australia is blessed with an incredible pool of talent and experience, across a broad
range of industries, and it is this expertise that could provide significant and
sustainable benefits into the communities where a development initiative is
targeted.

The challenge for many firms and individuals wishing to participate in development
activities is in understanding the intricacies of the process to secure involvement.
Activities through agencies such as the Australian Agency for International
Development (AusAID), the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, are usually
let through a public, competitive tendering process. Adding to this challenge is the
fact that in almost all cases, the process is different for each agency.

Myth – that the development industry is different.

Well of course it is, as are all industries – different clients, different products,
different channels to market, different cultures, different environments, different
risks etc.

What makes it the same is the need to ensure client needs are met, if not exceeded,
and that products and services are as desired/needed, not imposed.

So how do you get involved? Is it luck? It is skill? Is it people, products or services?

All and more I am sure.

A key step often required is the need to demonstrate experience, understanding,
value, sustainability of strategies etc to those assessing a tender.

Reality Check – Successful tenders must be compliant to the requirements of the
request, must be price competitive, and need to find the balance between the
technical requirements of the response and the selling nature of the process.

One of the most important aspects of development initiatives is their ability to
produce sustainable outcomes into the communities within which the activities take
place. Consequently, learning from past activities assists to shape the style of
future initiatives. For firms or individuals seeking participation, understanding how
such learning could modify development approaches is a critical step in determining
the type and level of involvement to target.

Fact – learning from past activities continues to shape future interventions.

The Development Market Today

The following points are some key observations about the directions [approaches]
being taken in the provision of development assistance. These directions have the
potential to impact on any strategy organisations and individuals might adopt to
enter, maintain, or increase their involvement:

• Funds are being diverted from government aid agencies to other government
departments for sector-specific programs

• There is a continuing trend to devolve more decision making to the offshore
post of the donor country, away from the ‘central’ headquarters

• An increase in donor co-ordination and collaboration where, for example, the
USA [through USAID] and Australia [through AusAID] might align program
approaches to avoid duplication and other associated impediments, into a sector-
wide approach

• A trend seeing more assistance being aligned to foreign policy where, for
example, security and regional stability could influence aid disbursement

• Bilateral donors are opening their markets, allowing for individuals and
organisations to compete for once closed opportunities

• There is an increasing trend for a move to larger activities, such as sector-wide
approaches, as opposed to specific project interventions

• Scale and global reach is likely to be an important criteria in winning and
managing major programs

• Relationships and networks in country with donor representatives, recipient
governments, local organisations and development professionals are becoming
increasingly important.

Opportunity/Approach/Success Factors

Opportunities for involvement exist across a whole spectrum of activities, from
short-term review/assessment activities in Australia, to short-term offshore
assignments for individuals or teams, to long-term offshore assignments for
individuals or teams, to overall project management which might include technical
inputs as well as sub-contracting of activities.

Organisations such as The Development Executive Group (http://
http://www.developmentex.com) are a valuable resource for individuals and firms to
identify opportunities, individuals and potential partners. This Group provides a
range of free information and support services to individuals and companies,
including project information updates, a weekly development newsletter and
employment opportunities in the development sector.

An immediate key success factor is the consideration of which level of involvement
for a particular opportunity is likely to deliver the best result with the minimum of
risk – for the organisation, the client, the stakeholders and the recipients of
support.

Many of the larger activities, such as programs, facilities and sector-wide
approaches, often have sub-components that will be let out – meaning the overall
project managing firm could be ineligible to perform the services within a sub-
component. The key principles to securing sub-component involvement is often
identical to that required to secure the overall project, as there will be a call for
tender using the same or very similar process to that used by the funding agency.

Consequently, all levels of involvement in the development arena are likely at some
point to require interested organisations/individuals to participate in a competitive
tendering round. This is often the case regardless of the size of the resultant
budget.

Reality Check – Tendering efficiency and effectiveness remains critical.

Tendering skills alone, while critical, are not the sole success factor – in fact
tendering well in the absence of other key activities/initiatives may prove
insufficient. Key considerations for success, in addition to compiling a winning
tender include:

• Having the winning product – the team, the approach, the methodology, and
the response to the requirements of a tender

• Ensuring advance positioning – research, preparation, resources

• Maintaining adequate promotion – often the key here is relationships, and
certainly past achievements

• Being in the right place – knowing the clients and stakeholders and having an
international presence

• Offering the right price – must be competitive and offering value for money.

The tender response is often the most challenging aspect (apart from
implementation of course), addressed by ensuring appropriate preparation and
analysis is conducted in advance. The tendering timeframe usually falls within a 4 –
8 week period and generally responses would be required to address key criteria
including the team, approach and methodology, management, and price.

Reality Check – Preparation must commence prior to the public call for tender if a
realistic chance of success is to be expected.

These thoughts are by no means exhaustive, though they do cover some core
principles relevant to successful business development and tendering approaches.

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Role of Banking and Financial Institutions in Business Development

Opening a business or a firm is an exciting challenge, but what really gives pain is doldrums of economic strings. It is the basic factor behind the role of a business in its realm. Financial crunch is the most unpredictable situation and when occurs gives a powerful whiplash. Only those businesses or organizations survive that have an experienced banking or finance partner. Such partners can help in running a newly emerging or established business.

The fact is that most successful organizations are the ones most responsive to change. When it comes to changes only those businesses change that have effective team, efficient management, solid reserves and surpluses. Responding to evolving markets, customers and new protocols is very difficult unless you have your banking partner with you. Unquestionably, banking and financial institutions help businesses to think ahead to the wide array of innumerable opportunities to explore. They help businesses at every step and provide the most vital things like commercial loans, commercial overdraft, equipment finance and business insurance. These are some of the most crucial things that help businesses to boast its banner at the worst case situations.

Commercial loans are the most important factors for businesses. Businesses always look to buy commercial premises for their expansion. For this, they need instant balance, which only a reputable banking organization can offer at the most basic rates. They also offer their clients to choose between variable or fixed interest rates for their benefit. Banking authorities are also involved in the fair assessment of business assets and their financial proposals. This simply helps businesses to grow and expand their market value with more aggressive measures.

Businesses often need equipment finance that are very expensive and can consume complete surplus of the company. Banking technology along with financial institutions extends their assistance in purchasing or leasing equipment, whatever is necessary. Banks also discuss this thing with company’s advisory board to choose the best equipment as per their requirements. Banks also have instruments and products that specially SMEs and small organizations to grow and develop their core capabilities. They have various micro finance instruments that simply help SMEs to grow strong and independent.

In a nutshell, banking and financial institutions are developing new instruments and products to offer immunity to the businesses so that crisis never breaks their necks. They also ensure that businesses never face shortage of cash supply. This has dramatically changed the face of business scenario and boasted trade finance.