Let’s think about business development in these three terms:

  • Awareness
  • Perception
  • Action

That’s the crux of it, isn’t it?

Awareness, as in the right people know about what you do,
Perception, as in those people think you offer a good product or service. They rate you highly!
Action, as in they buy from you.

This is what the combined efforts of your marketing and sales actions should achieve. Potential customers must know about you, they must rate you highly and eventually buy from you. Each of these critical parts are driven by different tools. Awareness is driven by marketing communications; perception, through brand positioning; action, through your sales process.

You can’t build a high performing, long term business by being selective about these tools. You need all of them. You need to pull all three strings, and yet most companies don’t. They focus almost exclusively on the sale itself. When that starts to suffer, they try adding some marketing communications but rarely do they actively position and manage the brand.

Brand positioning is tough because it involves something counter intuitive to the business owner: defining a clear message centred around the customer’s needs, not the commercial goals of the company. It requires an outside-in approach by answering the question: what is in it for them? Why should they – the customer – choose you, over someone else? It is a question very few companies know how to answer.

At the end of the day, all three of these activities make up the holistic approach needed for business development, but it is the brand that sets you apart and draws the customer in. It is about creating a perception of difference in the mind of the customer.

Before you start selling; before you start communicating, ask yourself, how should we be perceived? What sets us apart?