Business development plans - client-centric thinking and action - with Ben Paul

Writing a business development plan can be challenging. We teamed up with Ben Paul, founder of The BD Ladder, to help step us through what makes a good plan. Take it away, Ben!

Ben Paul

Ben Paul

''Thanks ACE!  

To create a successful business development plan that you effectively deliver against, the first thing you need to do is to stop thinking of it as a 'tick-the-box' exercise. Writing a plan to fulfil your manager's requirements is ultimately pointless. You won't deliver against it, and once you've written it, it won't make it out of the top drawer. 

Instead, I urge you to consider simplifying your plan and thinking seriously about what you can commit to and deliver.  

Then think about what activities will have a positive impact on your clients. I refer to this as a BD client action plan. And yes, you will need to write down and record information, but the focus is on writing down what you want to achieve, and what activities you'll do to achieve those goals. 

Here are my top three things for a successful development plan: 

Identify your top three clients or prospects 

Understanding which clients or prospects you want to be working with in 2021 is just the starting point. To win the work you want, you need to identify who you need to speak to within the organisation. My advice is always to try to talk with someone as high up the organisational chain as possible. For existing clients, this is even more crucial. If you want to grow revenue from your clients, then it's highly likely that you'll need to speak to more people than who you currently do. Build new relationships without harming your existing ones. That isn't easy, which is another excellent reason why you need a plan! 

Ensure your personal brand and marketing activities align with your clients and prospects 

Hopefully, you understand why investing in building your personal brand is essential. It must also be relevant to the clients and sector you service. 

Be sure to be where your clients are. If you've committed to writing articles or delivering informative presentations and webinars, then research where your clients absorb this content. If you have a good relationship with your client, ask them what conferences they attend, which LinkedIn groups they hang out in, or which magazines or websites they get their industry news from 

Commit the time to deliver your plan 

Most consultants and engineers don't dream of being salespeople. But you all need clients. Winning new projects are very much a part of the everyday life of being a consultant.  

Business development plans are essential, but many of us try to put off delivering against them. It's a bit like a New Years resolution or commitment to a healthier lifestyle! So, from the start, set aside a weekly or fortnightly time in your diary to review your plan. 

My three tips are just the starting point. Make sure you focus on client-centric thinking and actions. If you manage to commit to a plan which contains both of these elements, you're bound to be successful.'' 

Next steps

We're running a free, one-hour webinar for ACE members 10 am, Tuesday 16 February "How to develop a business development plan."  

The session will help you to:  

  • Understand how to build a plan you will commit to 
  • Decide how to segment your clients 
  • Build a personal brand aligned to your clients 
  • Identify which BD activities to commit to this year 
  • Put in place tactics to ensure you deliver your committed activities 

Find out more and register 

Connect with Ben Paul on LinkedIn