When I started my career in business development, I had a target to at least collect five business cards of prospects a week. And the easiest way to do is going to meet new people at networking events. I attended almost all leading business networking events in Bangkok and sometimes even in Chonburi where most of the leading manufacturers located. Events I used to participate in ranging from wine tasting event, breakfast briefing to just typical chit-chat events. It didn’t take me long to realize that at least for me this doesn’t work to find a new business lead, just because my networking skill was just so weak. I was junior, inexperienced and not very good at initiate small talk.
To boost my self-esteem, I went back to consult self-help books and learned that networking is not about exchanging name card, but it’s more about helping people whom we want to connect. I listened to Gary Vaynerchuk, my online mentor (by the way he doesn’t know me… I just followed his social media posts) he gave me the best advice on business development. He said something like the best sales strategy is to do your client a favor. I take his advice and have been practicing it since I have started Canvassco (my B2B marketing services in Thailand and Indonesia). As a girl who started a business from scratch, no client base, no sale person, no marketing, no budget to do what so ever to promote the company, the ‘favor’ strategy works. It works very well, and this is how I started to kick-start the ‘favor’ sales and marketing strategy.
Build your database. Never buy a database and dump it into your CRM. If you are in the B2B world like me, you have to build a customized database. I quickly searched for a list of top companies in Thailand within my targeted sectors. Called them one by one but not to sell anything. My mission is just to get an email address of those who are the key person in the marketing and business development departments. I told them that I develop content about B2B marketing and market research and would like to send them material that might be useful for their business (and we did! we developed quite a lot of content and you can check it out on our SlideShare page here). I did it from the first call-up to almost 1,000 lists of companies I built together with my assistant. I uploaded the list to mailchimp.com. It's free for the 1,000 records of contacts. By the way at Canvassco, we also have a lead-gen solution that we develop a customized database for our client in Thailand.
Build a Google friendly website. I’m not a programmer or website designer, but I invested time to learn how I could get my site ranked on 1st page of Google on keywords relevant to my business. I use wix.com website builder drag and drop platform that’s very users friendly so that I could change content anytime, set up my website to comply with all SEO best practices, registered my site with Google. I didn’t have a budget to hire a web designer, not to mention about SEO optimization package.
Content and email marketing. I started to think about content that sales and marketing staff would like to read. The first piece of content I developed is about strategic growth option. It is 102 page of presentation format. I even drew a cartoon to illustrate content myself to make it look less like a typical report. The 102-page material was used as a theme for email marketing I sent out. I linked email back to www.canvassco.com to read or download content. We keep doing this, and now we are on 1st page of Google on several keywords. We never pay for Adwords.
Build an empire of favor. One of the main reason I started my own company is that I could help businesses to grow using methodology that is flexible and fit with their business. Personally, I like to hear a business idea and think together with clients on how to develop a new market and really get it into action, not just put it on a paper. I do that with anyone who calls us or emails us without charging them anything. I help clients doing their jobs in a scope that cost me nothing but just time and idea that I have to invest in. To be honest, I don’t even care whether my investment on time and giving away ideas would turn to leads or commission as a project. The more I do for business who contact us (99% of customers found us on Google), the better I learn about their business. Even if they don’t engage me for a project today, often we get leads from their recommendation to their counterparts in other companies.
Invest in Account-Based Marketing. I selectively invest full-time in working with accounts that have strong potential for a long-term revenue stream. As a small agency with a big idea, any time we offer free service to clients just to get a small part of work done just to prove that we both have the right chemistry to work together for a bigger goal.
This is what I have been doing for business development. It helps my business to grow from zero clients to more than 20 customers. Business development is fun, and eventually, we turn our practice into a business development solution for the B2B world.
We are still a small agency who are developing a new approach for business development. Interesting to learn more about our business development practice, you can check it out here: https://www.canvassco.com/businessdev