Business Development Part 2: Building your business

Click here to read “Business Development Part 1: Breaking down the buying process.”

Jebidiah Jones, one of the early consultants specializing in new business prospecting.

Jebidiah Jones, one of the early consultants specializing in new business prospecting.



It’s like business leaders have a brain cramp when it comes to the business development  ‘how to build my business’ discussion.

Who should be on my list?

How many prospects on the list is the right amount?


Consultants will say “pick your top 50 prospects.”

Say what?

I don’t get it.


This may sound flippant but I don’t care how many are on your list. If you use the idea below, your list will be more driven by your objectives and plan than by “here is who I want to go after.” And the sheer number will become irrelevant … ok … maybe less relevant if you apply the total list against the buying process in part one.

Why? Because all of a sudden instead of a zillion prospects the prospects will start dropping into slots in the buying process and group together instead of being one giant mass of prospects.

So you can have a zillion but they will be grouped together in manageable numbers.


Here is what I suggest. (it is pretty simple and I cannot remember who in my past gave me the idea).


Stack triangles.

Put your two largest clients at each of the two bottom points on the bottom triangle. Add them up. That is the size of the largest prospect on your first customer prospect list. It reflects a reasonable size your current process and capabilities can absorb. You can keep them happy. And you can keep the two (and all the others on the bottom) happy so they stay.

As soon as you get one that size (or close). You are now at the bottom of the next triangle. Slide that one to the bottom left (or right if that floats your boat). Put your next largest client on the other point and add them up and do it all over.

In the meantime go ahead and put all your clients in the triangle. Give them dots. Triangles with dots in them always look great. There you go. Your growth plan. You’ll stop stacking triangles when you see a number that looks like what you want for your organization.


That also means your prospect business development list changes. Should you have had all these new guys on your original list? Of course not. Why waste your time preselling someone you like but probably weren’t capable of properly servicing?

On occasion, do one of those not on the list track you down? Sure. And you deal with them if they do.

Is it good to change your prospect list like this? Sure. When you get to a certain size some prospects drop off your list because they aren’t worth your while.

What do you say to the new prospects when you begin communicating? Easy. “Hey. We have grown. We always had the expertise, but now we have the process/infrastructure capabilities to work with you.” (Prospects like that kind of stuff. It’s called realistic truth or honesty)

The triangles plan of action shows two things (other than you actually have a plan):

1. A reasonable logical growth plan

2. How high or how big do you want to go plan of action (and how to get there).

Hey. I am not a big “5 year plan” type of guy. But. I do like a plan. I just believe you are adjusting the plan to accommodate reality more often than not (so the whole 5 year thing goes to hell in a hand basket pretty quickly).


There are exceptions.


You make adjustments.


Stuff happens (like you stop paying attention to a client who was on the bottom of one of your triangles, and they get pissed off and leave).


But this is about a reasonable growth plan. And retention plays a role but that is a different post (but it is very easy to build retention into your business development plan because you know your average length of client relationship so you can factor that in.


Just answered that. Excellent. I just eliminated something to write.


(The close) So.

Those are two basic and relatively simple infrastructure ideas for a business development program.

Pretty simple huh? Yup.

You know what?

Business development is fairly simple. It’s not about cold calling (which really isn’t that effective and in most business categories isn’t really the way to jump start a relationship).


How often do you pick up the phone to blindly call some girl (or guy) and say:

“Hey. You don’t know me but I am guessing you have had a bunch of relationships that didn’t work out but I am a really neat guy (or gal) so why don’t we meet and go out some time?”


Imagine a dial tone somewhere in that scenario.


Does this work?

Look. writers make-clever-simple

I almost guarantee if you play the numbers right in what I just described you should get a couple of meetings fairly fast (out of sheer dumb luck your message will hit a couple of people in the stimulus phase). You will generate some ongoing meetings without cold calls. And you will grow so you can revise your prospect list often enough to keep it fresh. But. Remember. It is a program not a tactic. So you gotta keep it going to make it work.




A business development program should simply be an extension of everything else you are doing as an organization. Not some mysterious voodoo program where everyone looks askance at the biz development people (I have been looking for an opportunity to write askance for awhile). They shouldn’t be using wacky business development words and phrases that make people think they bumped their head on a dumb stick, but rather use words and process the entire organization uses.


Last warning.

Beware the business development person or consultant who comes in with “here is the process and what we do.” Just shoot them then and save yourself a lot of heartache. They should be coming in saying “I know the principles to have a successful program, but let’s talk about what makes you successful – and vocabulary – with existing clients and I will build a business development program around that (Don’t shoot that person. At least right away).

There you go.

Good luck. Add some business.

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Written by Bruce