The traditional marketing role has evolved in the last decade or so. According to a 2014 study of B2B Internet users, more than 80% research products online before purchasing. That’s a lot of people now focused on making their own decisions, rather than being swayed by traditional marketing methods. 

So, if your potential new customers are doing their own research, how are you supposed to reach them? By focusing on business development initiatives.

Business development is a slow relationship building tactic that includes starting relationships, maintaining and growing those relationships and then converting them into paid work. It is the business of creating opportunities, not sales. Although the end game is of course to generate sales out of those opportunities.

In a way, business development is like missionary work; and to SMB owners who are set on seeing concrete results, it is a new reality that they are struggling to accept because they’re struggling with how to measure their return on investment.

The first thing to understand is that business development is about activities undertaken to produce leads rather than activities undertaken to achieve set quotas. But just because you can’t count the dollars and cents from closed sales deals, doesn’t mean you can’t measure your activities.

Developing relationships through networking events, cold calling, or even Google ad word buys all have a cost involved – though sometimes that cost is simply in employee time. This cost is your investment.

Maintaining relationships is a little easier to measure – but again not necessarily in dollars and cents. Regular newsletters, for example, maintain client relationships and their click-through rates are trackable. This cost is also your investment.

The effort put into creating and maintaining relationships is what will create leads in your pipeline. And that’s where you’ll get your return on investment.


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