- BD, client development and marketing plans that are copied-and-pasted from previous years are of no real value.
- Every year, fresh one-page plans should be drawn up from scratch.
- Choose a small set of goals and identify the actions you must take to achieve them.
If you line up your last decade’s worth of business development (BD), client development or yearly sales and marketing plans, do you struggle to see any tangible differences, apart from the date and occasional logo change?
If so, is it because your plans are so successful there is absolutely no point in updating them? Or, is the reality really that you see no value in these plans and only complete them because you have to?
I suspect in most cases it is the latter.
Changing the date at the top does save you time, but it means your BD planning document is basically worthless.
Instead, if you start with a blank sheet of paper and commit to putting time and thought into your plans, you will see a real uplift in achieving your objectives.
Own your plan
If you have available resources, it may be very tempting to delegate completing your plans to someone else. By all means: actively consult with these professionals and get input and ideas from them. This can be helpful because they can challenge your thoughts and help you refine your plans.
However, anything committed to paper (regardless of who actually types it) needs to be your own commitment, ideally in your own words.
Keep it short
Depending on the level of detail, background research and thinking you need, your plan can easily be delivered on a single page. I’ve seen some very impressive rainmakers who have captured their BD goals for the year using a desktop whiteboard!
Once you understand your clients and your target market, the best way to deliver against a BD plan is to deliver your committed BD actions. For time-poor people, the smaller the list, the easier it is to identify what to do and when to do it.
Start by defining your BD or client development strategy. There are a lot of tools available online to help you with this step: this BD Client Action Plan being a good example.
Then, commit to three or four actions you will deliver in a certain period of time and achieve them. Each time you complete an action, replace it with a new one. Suddenly your BD document has become an action-orientated plan you can deliver on.
Set realistic and achievable goals
Focus on activities that will make a real difference this year. If that’s getting to grips with your personal brand and mastering LinkedIn, then commit to those actions. It might even be delivering a series of regular webinars or seminars. Whatever it is, make sure each goal is measurable and achievable.
As important as choosing and committing to a set of actions, is removing unrealistic goals from your plan.
“As important as choosing and committing to a set of actions, is removing unrealistic goals from your plan.”
For example, some CAs might have writing a book as part of their marketing plan. Even if this is a short eBook, be honest with yourself: will you have time this year to complete it? If you don’t currently have time, will you make time for it? If you can’t make that commitment, then remove writing a book from this year’s plan.
Focus on what’s important
The key to developing a good BD plan is to adopt the right mindset. Focus on who you need to build better business relationships with over the year and how you will build those relationships, then deliver an activity plan to help you achieve these goals.
Whatever you do, don’t just rehash last year’s plan. If you didn’t follow it last year, there’s little chance that you will do so this year.