Business Development Pond

Big fishing pond. Lots of rain. No water? A case for organic growth.

During a recent rainy holiday we were guests at one of out in-laws log cabins near Meridian, MS. Out back off their deck you could look down a steep hill and see a fairly large pond with bright red water flowing into it from the heavy rain pounding on the red clay soil.

Turns out that no matter how much it rains, or how much sticky clay mud coats the bottom of that pond, water just disappears. the dam does its job of holing back the water.  It’s just the bottom that doesn’t hold water.  In fact, due in part to the soil composition, there are a few water-holding ponds in the area. This is unusual since Mississippi is legendary for its numerous catfish ponds and farms scattered around the state.

Do you have a system to maintain and nurture your customer information? I am amazed as I travel around the country and consult with companies of every size and shape that tolerate business opportunities and incremental customer sales to leak out of their business “pond”.

Often I am called in to provide specialized assistance in cultivating new business using database driven B2B marketing,  In the process of developing new business, we often discover that organic growth from their existing customer base is not being exploited.

There are plenty of studies that confirm the superiority of organic growth as the MOST cost-effective way of developing business. The cost per acquisition for generating new customers always carries a higher price tag.

Fix your system so you stop leaking business. There are 7 things that you can initiate today to propel your company’s organic growth. If fact, these should be the cornerstone of your business development strategy.

Establish a quality relational database of your customers.

Design a prospecting database that will be the “farm team” to feed into your customer database.

Plug up leaks in customer data gathering. What data are you currently collecting on your customers? What are you missing that would help you sell more and deliver better service to your customers.

Create a system that brings your database to life and creates dialogue between your business (employees) and your customer. This should include many elements, a few of which are:

  • Policy that addresses privacy issues for your customers.
  • Permission-based email communication protocols.
  • Market segment identification of your customers.
  • Product usage patterns.
  • Market research to keep you in touch with your customers’ changes needs.
  • seasonal communication schedule for each customer group that is relevant to their needs.

Training strategy that keeps your people at peak performance so they become your front line of defense in keeping customers happy and loyal.

Don’t procrastinate. Bring in help to get the job done. business development is critical to keeping your company health. Start with organic growth and allocate resources to bring in specialized help to assist you with the task.

Activate a competitive radar system. If you are in a highly competitive category you cannot go the way of the Ostrich, You have to maintain an awareness of your competition. We recommend an intelligence gathering system that helps you protect your position in the market. this system can also serve as your early warning system to competitive maneuvers that can steal market share or capture some of your larger accounts.

The “grow or die” business development strategy.

One of the best metaphors to illustrate the need for a business development strategy is the Salton Sea.

About 3 hours west of San Diego in the heart of the desert is the larges inland body of water in the continental United States. Chances are you have never heard of it. The Salton Sea is one of the most eerie and obscure sites that I have ever seen.

All around the shore of this massive inland sea are abandoned buildings. Lifeless shorelines and a distinctive odor. The salinity levels are extraordinarily high. Believe it or not, fish do thrive in the Salton Sea, although it is becoming increasingly difficult for these harsh waters to sustain a reasonably hospitable habitat for the fish.

I will spare you the details of how the sea was created. It is an interesting story, but the lesson here is not about a leaking pond, but a stagnant sea. The Salton Sea is over 100 feet below sea level. Water flowed in but can’t flow out.

The lesson for business is that if your customer data collection system is watertight, but the flow of information is not actively used and maintained, you can become a stagnant entity. Competition is moving too fast for you to let your customer relationship management strategy stand still.