Developing a Social Media Strategy for Business

Developing a social media strategy for your business can do several things for your company. It can help you gauge how consumers perceive your business, give you a direct line of communication with your customers and even help people view your company in a more positive light.

When you’re using social media to market a business, it isn’t enough to just have an online presence. For your efforts to be successful, set goals that are measurable, such as a specific number of interactions per week or a certain number of potential customers driven to your website per month. Having specific, measurable goals gives you a way to quantify the success or failure of your efforts on social media. This also helps you focus in on which tactics are working. It may be easier for you to determine which types of content are the most effective with your customers.

Assess Your Current Presence on Social Media

It’s helpful to make a list of places you currently have a social media presence and check the current numbers on things like shares and comments before proceeding. When you have this information compiled, you can compare your social media presence to that of your competitors. If you see your closest competition is on a social media platform that you aren’t on and that company is getting a lot of interaction with people who use the same merchandise or service you provide, you should ideally try to establish a strong presence on that platform, too. It may be the way your target market prefers to communicate.

Explore Your Target Market

Hootsuite recommends creating personas of your desired customers as a way to help you understand who they are and what can get them to engage with your content. A persona is a term that basically describes your target market in a more personal way. It goes beyond basic demographic information and helps you visualize what types of content you should share to get your customer base’s attention. Having a clear idea of what drives your target market can help you find the social media outlet where they hang out, and it can also help you create content that relieves their pain points. If there are social media sites you aren’t on and feel you should be because your target market is there, this is a good time to set up some new accounts.

Curate and Create Content to Share on Social Media

With a good understanding of your target market’s pain points, it’s easier to curate and create content that’s interesting to your customers. Whether you write your own content or simply share relevant content is up to you, but it’s ideal to have a mix of content types. Sharing some curated content saves you time over creating everything yourself, but creating your own content gives you complete control over the message you’re sharing.

Keep the Lines of Communication Open

Be ready to engage with people who interact with your content. Schedule time into your day to reply to comments and thank people for sharing. Always keep your tone respectful and professional when interacting with customers, even if they happen to say something negative. Replying politely to negative comments and showing you understand and want to help are two of the more powerful opportunities you can have to convert an unhappy customer to repeat one.

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Boost Your Business with the Right Android App Development Strategies

In today’s digital age, having a strong online presence is crucial for the success of any business. One effective way to reach a wider audience and engage with potential customers is through mobile apps. With the increasing popularity of Android devices worldwide, developing an Android app can be a game-changer for your business. In this article, we will explore some essential strategies for successful Android app development and how it can boost your business.

Understanding the Importance of Android Apps

Android is the most widely used operating system globally, powering millions of smartphones and tablets. By developing an Android app, you gain access to a vast user base and tap into a thriving market. Furthermore, Android apps are versatile and can be customized to suit various business needs. Whether you run an e-commerce store, offer services or entertainment, having an Android app can significantly enhance customer engagement and satisfaction.

Identifying Your Target Audience

Before diving into the development process, it is crucial to identify your target audience. Understanding their preferences, needs, and pain points will help you create an app that resonates with them. Conduct market research to gather insights about your target audience’s demographics, behavior patterns, and usage habits. This information will guide you in designing features that cater specifically to their requirements.

Planning Your App’s Features

Once you have identified your target audience’s needs, it’s time to plan your app’s features accordingly. Start by outlining the core functionalities that align with your business objectives. Consider incorporating features such as user-friendly navigation, personalized experiences, secure payment gateways (if applicable), social media integration for seamless sharing or login options.

In addition to basic features, think about how you can differentiate your app from competitors by adding unique value propositions. For example, if you are in the food delivery industry, providing real-time order tracking or customization options could set your app apart. Remember to prioritize simplicity and intuitive design to ensure a seamless user experience.

Testing and Iteration

Once you have developed your Android app, thorough testing is essential to ensure it functions seamlessly across different devices and operating system versions. Conduct both functional and usability testing to identify any bugs, crashes, or performance issues. The feedback received during this phase will help you refine the app further.

Iterate based on user feedback and continuously update your app to enhance its performance and address any user concerns. Regularly monitoring user analytics will provide valuable insights into how users are engaging with your app, enabling you to make data-driven decisions for future updates.

In conclusion, developing an Android app can be a powerful tool in boosting your business’s growth and success. By understanding the importance of Android apps, identifying your target audience, planning your app’s features strategically, and continuously testing and iterating, you can create an impactful mobile application that resonates with your customers. Embrace the world of Android apps today and take your business to new heights.

This text was generated using a large language model, and select text has been reviewed and moderated for purposes such as readability.


business development strategy document

How to Develop a Strategic Plan for Business Development [Free Template]

Meg Prater (she/her)

Published: May 01, 2023

Business development is usually confused with sales , often overlooked, and only sometimes given the strategic focus it deserves. Having a business development strategy, however, is crucial to long-term success. It ensures that everyone in your company is working toward a common goal.

business development professionals looking over strategic plan

But how do you develop a business development plan? Pull up a chair and stay awhile, I’m diving into that and more below.

business development strategy document

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Business development.

Business development is the practice of identifying, attracting, and acquiring new business to further your company’s revenue and growth goals. How you achieve these goals is sometimes referred to as a business development strategy — and it applies to and benefits everyone at your company.

Business Development framework

It’s not unusual to mistake business development with sales, but there’s an important distinction between the two. Business development refers to many activities and functions inside and outside the traditional sales team structure. In some companies, business development is part of the larger sales operations team. In others, it’s part of the marketing team or sits on its own team altogether.

Because business development can look so different among industries and businesses, the strategy behind this function is expansive. Below, we outline each step in the strategy and how to apply it to your business development plan.

Business Development Strategy

  • Understand your competitive landscape.
  • Choose effective KPIs.
  • Develop long-term customer relationships.
  • Implement customer feedback.
  • Keep your website content and user interface fresh.
  • Speed up your response time.
  • Leverage a sales plan to identify areas of growth.
  • Implement a social listening strategy.
  • Sponsor industry organizations, conferences, and events.

1. Understand your competitive landscape.

Before you can develop a strategic plan to drive business growth, you must have a solid understanding of the competitive landscape in your industry. When you know who your ideal customer is and what problem they are looking to solve with your product or service, research who else is providing a viable solution in your industry.

Identify other companies operating in your space. What features do their products have? How competitive is their pricing? Do their systems integrate with other third-party solutions? Get crystal-clear on what the competition is offering so you know how to differentiate your product to your customers.

Featured Resource: 10 Competitive Analysis Templates

10 Competitive Analysis Templates

2. Choose effective KPIs.

How will you know if your business development efforts are successful? Ensure you can measure your goals with relevant, meaningful key performance indicators (KPIs) that reflect the health of your business. The result of these metrics should give you a strong indication of how effective your business development efforts are.

Featured Resource: Sales Metrics Calculator Dashboard

Sales Metrics Calculator Dashboard

3. Develop long-term customer relationships.

Do you engage with your customers even after the deal has been closed? If not, it’s time to develop a plan to keep your buyers engaged. Building long-term relationships with your customers pays off. A grand majority of a company's business comes from repeat customers, and returning customers are cheaper to convert. Indeed, it’s famously known that it costs five times more to convert new customers than it does to sell to returning customers.

Not only are repeat customers easier to sell to, they can also provide valuable feedback and insights to help you improve your business. Additionally, customer testimonials can be used for valuable content that can attract your next buyer.

4. Implement customer feedback.

If and when you have customers who are willing to provide feedback on your sales process and offerings, make sure you hear them out and implement it. Your customers offer a unique, valuable perspective because they chose your product over the competition — their insights can help shape your strategy to keep your business ahead of the curve.

5. Keep your website content and user interface fresh.

When was the last time your company had a website refresh? Can you ensure that all links are working, that your site is easy to navigate, and that it is laid out and intuitive for those who want to buy from you?

Keeping your website up-to-date and easy to use can make or break the sale for customers who know they are ready to buy. Don’t make it too difficult for potential customers to get in touch with you or purchase your product directly (if that suits your business model).

6. Speed up your response time.

How fast your sales team responds to your leads can make or break your ability to close the deal. If you notice your sales process has some lag time that prevents you from responding to prospects as soon as possible, these could be areas to prioritize improvement.

7. Leverage a sales plan to identify areas of growth.

No business development strategy is complete without a sales plan . If you’ve already established a plan, make sure to unify it with your business development efforts. Your plan should outline your target audience, identify potential obstacles, provide a “game plan” for sales reps, outline responsibilities for team members, and define market conditions.

While a sales plan primarily affects your sales team, it can inform the activities of your business development reps. A sales plan can help them understand where the business needs growth — whether it’s in a new vertical, a new audience, or a new need that’s recently come to light in the industry.

Not sure how to create a sales plan? Download the following template to get started.

Featured Resource: Sales Plan Template

Sales Plan Template

8. Implement a social listening strategy.

While social listening is mainly used in a marketing and customer service context, it’s also an essential practice for business development. There are more than 4 billion social media users worldwide. Naturally, social media is one of the best places to hear directly from consumers and businesses — without needing to reach out to them first.

In business development, you can use social listening to track what the general public is saying about your brand, industry, product offerings, product category, and more. It can help you identify key weaknesses in the industry, making it a prime opportunity to be the first to address those pitfalls.

Use a social listening tool to pick up on trends before they gain traction.

9. Sponsor industry organizations, conferences, and events.

A key facet of business development is reaching potential customers where they are. One of the easiest ways to do that is by sponsoring industry organizations, conferences, and events. This strategy will guarantee that your business development reps get valuable face-to-face time with your business’ target audience. The additional visibility can also help establish your business as a leader in the field.

Now that you understand what business development entails, it's time to create a plan to set your strategy in motion.

How to Develop a Strategic Plan

How to Develop a Strategic Plan

When we refer to a business development strategic plan, we’re referring to a roadmap that guides the whole company and requires everyone’s assistance to execute successfully and move your customer through the flywheel . With a plan, you’ll close more deals and quantify success.

Let’s go over the steps you should take to create a strategic plan.

1. Download our strategic plan template .

First, download our free growth strategy template to create a rock-solid strategic plan. With this template, you can map a growth plan for increasing sales, revenue, and customer acquisition rates. You can also create action plans for adding new locations, creating new product lines, and expanding into new regions.

Featured Resource: Strategic Plan Template

Strategic Plan Template

2. Craft your elevator pitch.

What is your company’s mission and how do you explain it to potential clients in 30 seconds or less? Keeping your elevator pitch at the forefront of all strategic planning will remind everyone what you’re working toward and why.

Some people believe the best pitch isn’t a pitch at all , but a story. Others have their favorite types of pitches , from a one-word pitch to a Twitter pitch that forces you to boil down your elevator pitch to just 280 characters.

Find the elevator pitch that works best for your reps, company, and offer, and document it in your business development strategy.

3. Include an executive summary.

You’ll share your strategic plan with executives and maybe even board members, so it’s important they have a high-level overview to skim. Pick the most salient points from your strategic plan and list or summarize them here.

You might already have an executive summary for your company if you’ve written a business proposal or value proposition . Use this as a jumping off point but create one that’s unique to your business development goals and priorities.

Once your executives have read your summary, they should have a pretty good idea of your direction for growing the business — without having to read the rest of your strategy.

3. Set SMART goals.

What are your goals for this strategy? If you don’t know, it will be difficult for your company and team to align behind your plan. So, set SMART goals . Remember, SMART stands for:

Featured Resource: SMART Goal Setting Template

Download the template now.

If one of your goals is for 5% of monthly revenue to come from upsells or cross-sells, make this goal specific by identifying what types of clients you’ll target.

Identify how you’ll measure success. Is success when reps conduct upsell outreach to 30 clients every month, or is it when they successfully upsell a customer and close the deal? To make your goal attainable, ensure everyone on your team understands who is responsible for this goal: in this case, sales or business development reps.

This goal is relevant because it will help your company grow, and likely contributes to larger company-wide goals. To make it time-based, set a timeline for success and action. In this case, your sales team must achieve that 5% upsell/cross-sell number by the end of the quarter.

4. Conduct SWOT analysis.

SWOT is a strategic planning technique used to identify a company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

Before conducting a SWOT, identify what your goal is. For example, “We’d like to use SWOT to learn how best to conduct outreach to prospective buyers.”

Once you’ve identified what you’re working toward, conduct market research by talking with your staff, business partners, and customers.

Next, identify your business’ strengths. Perhaps you have low employee turnover, a central location that makes it easy to visit with prospects in person, or an in-demand feature your competitors haven’t been able to mimic.

Featured Resource: Market Research Kit with SWOT Analysis Template

Market Research Kit with SWOT Analysis Template

Your business’ weaknesses are next. Has your product recently glitched? Have you been unable to successfully build out a customer service team that can meet the demands of your customers?

Then, switch to opportunities. For example, have you made a new business partnership that will transition you into a previously untapped market segment?

What are the threats? Is your physical space getting crowded? What about your market space? Is increasing competition an issue?

Use SWOT results to identify a better way forward for your company.

5. Determine how you’ll measure success.

You’ve identified strengths and weaknesses and set SMART goals , but how will you measure it all ? It’s important for your team to know just how they will be measured, goaled, and rewarded. Common key performance indicators (KPIs) for business development include:

  • Company growth
  • Lead conversion rate
  • Leads generated per month
  • Client satisfaction
  • Pipeline value

6. Set a budget.

What will your budget be for achieving your goals? Review financial documents, historical budgets, and operational estimates to set a budget that’s realistic.

Once you have a “draft” budget, check it against other businesses in your industry and region to make sure you’re not overlooking or misjudging any numbers. Don’t forget to factor in payroll, facilities costs, insurance, and other operational line items that tend to add up.

7. Identify your target customer.

Who will your business development team pursue? Your target market is the group of customers your product/service was built for. For example, if you sell a suite of products for facilities teams at enterprise-level companies, your target market might be facilities or janitorial coordinators at companies with 1000+ employees. To identify your target market:

  • Analyze your product or service
  • Check out the competition
  • Choose criteria to segment by
  • Perform research

Your target customer is the person most likely to buy your product. Do your homework and make sure your business development plan addresses the right people. Only then will you be able to grow your business.

8. Choose an outreach strategy.

What tactics will you use to attract new business for your sales team to close? You might focus on a single tactic or a blend of a few. Once you know who your target market is and where they “hang out,” then you can choose an appropriate outreach strategy.

Will your business development plan rely heavily on thought leadership such as speaking at or attending conferences? Will you host a local meetup for others in your industry? Or will your reps network heavily on LinkedIn and social media?

If referrals will be pivotal to your business’ growth, consider at which stage of the buying process your BDRs will ask for referrals. Will you ask for a referral even if a prospect decides they like your product/service but aren’t a good fit? Or will you wait until a customer has been using your solution for a few months? Define these parameters in your strategy.

Upselling and Cross-Selling

Upselling and cross-selling are a cost-effective way of growing your business. But it’s important that this tactic is used with guardrails. Only upsell clients on features that will benefit them as well as your bottom line. Don’t bloat client accounts with features or services they really don’t need — that’s when turnover and churn start to happen.

Sponsorship and Advertising

Will your BDR work with or be on the marketing team to develop paid advertising campaigns? If so, how will your BDRs support these campaigns? And which channels will your strategy include? If you sell a product, you might want to feature heavily on Instagram or Facebook. If you’re selling a SaaS platform, LinkedIn or Twitter might be more appropriate.

What’s your outreach strategy? Will your BDRs be held to a quota to make 25 calls a week and send 15 emails? Will your outreach strategy be inbound , outbound , or a healthy combination of both? Identify the outreach guardrails that best match your company values for doing business.

Strategic Plan Example

Let’s put all of these moving parts in action with a strategic plan example featuring good ol’ Dunder Mifflin Paper Company.

Strategic Plan Example

Elevator Pitch Example for Strategic Plan

Dunder Mifflin is a local paper company dedicated to providing excellent customer support and the paper your business needs to excel today and grow tomorrow.

Here are some additional resources for inspiration:

  • Elevator Pitch Examples to Inspire Your Own
  • Components of an Elevator Pitch

Executive Summary Example for Strategic Plan

At Dunder Mifflin, our strengths are our customer service, speed of delivery, and our local appeal. Our weakness is that our sales cycle is too long.

To shorten the sales cycle 5% by the end of Q4, we need to ask for more referrals (which already enjoy a 15% faster sales cycle), sponsor local professional events, and outreach to big box store customers who suffer from poor customer support and are more likely to exit their contract. These tactics should allow us to meet our goal in the agreed-upon timeline.

  • How to Write an Incredibly Well-Written Executive Summary [+ Example]
  • Executive Summary Template

SMART Goals Example for Strategic Plan

Dunder Mifflin’s goal is to decrease our sales cycle 5% by the end of Q4. We will do this by more proactively scheduling follow-up meetings, sourcing more qualified, ready-to-buy leads, and asking for 25% more referrals (which have a 15% shorter sales cycle already). We will measure success by looking at the sales pipeline and calculating the average length of time it takes a prospect to become closed won or closed lost.

  • 5 Dos and Don'ts When Making a SMART Goal [Examples]
  • How to Write a SMART Goal
  • SMART Marketing Goals Template

SWOT Analysis Example for Strategic Plan

Strengths: Our strengths are our reputation in the greater Scranton area, our customer service team (led by Kelly Kapoor), and our warehouse team, who ship same-day reams to our customers — something the big box stores cannot offer.

Weaknesses: Our greatest weakness is that our sales team has been unable to successfully counter prospects who choose big box stores for their paper supply. This results in a longer-than-average sales cycle, which costs money and time.

Opportunities: Our greatest business opportunity is to conduct better-targeted outreach to prospects who are ready to buy, ask for more referrals from existing customers, and follow up with closed lost business that’s likely coming up on the end of an annual contract with a big box store.

Threats: Our biggest threat is large box stores offering lower prices to our prospects and customers and a sales cycle that is too long, resulting in low revenue and slow growth.

  • How to Conduct Competitive Analysis
  • How to Run a SWOT Analysis for Your Business [+ Template]
  • SWOT Analysis Template and Market Research Kit

Measurement of Success Example for Strategic Plan

We will measure success by looking at the sales pipeline and calculating the average length of time it takes a prospect to become closed won or closed lost.

Budget Example for Strategic Plan

You've laid out the SMART goals and the way you'll measure for success. The budget section's goal is to estimate how much investment it will take to achieve those goals. This will likely end up being a big-picture overview, broken down into a budget by a program or a summary of key investments. Consider laying it out in a table format like so:

Budget Example for Strategic Plan

  • Budgeting Templates
  • How to Write an Incredible Startup Marketing Budget

Target Customer Example for Strategic Plan

Our target customer is office managers at small- to medium-sized companies in the greater Scranton, PA area. They are buying paper for the entire office, primarily for use in office printers, custom letterhead, fax machines. They are busy managing the office and value good customer service and a fast solution for their paper needs.

  • How to Create Detailed Buyer Personas for Your Business
  • Make My Persona Tool

Outreach Strategy Example for Strategic Plan

Networking, sponsorships, and referrals will be our primary mode of outreach. We will focus on networking at regional paper conferences, HR conferences, and local office manager meetups. We will sponsor local professional events. And we will increase the volume of referrals we request from existing customers.

Create a Strategic Plan for Business Development

Without a strategic plan, you can invest resources, time, and funds into business development initiatives that won't grow your business. A strategic plan is crucial as it aligns your business development and sales teams. With a solid business development strategic plan, everyone will be working toward the greater good of your company.

Editor's note: This post was originally published in January 2020 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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Plan your business's growth strategy with this free template.


Business Development Strategy Template

Business Development Strategy Template

What Is A Business Development Strategy?

A business development strategy is an action plan a company takes to achieve growth and expansion. It involves identifying and seizing opportunities, cultivating relationships, and implementing initiatives to increase revenue, market share, and overall profitability.

At its core, a business development strategy focuses on exploring new markets and developing new products or services. It involves a proactive and systematic approach to gain a competitive advantage in the market or industry to position the business for long-term success.

Business development strategies can vary depending on the industry, target market, and company goals. They often involve conducting market research, identifying potential customers or markets, and establishing strategic alliances or partnerships. Additionally, these strategies may include activities such as sales and marketing initiatives, product development, mergers and acquisitions, and entering new geographic regions.

What Is A Business Development Plan Template?

A business development plan template is a pre-designed framework that serves as a roadmap for creating a strategic plan to drive business growth. It provides a structured format for organizations to define their objectives, analyze their current situation, identify opportunities, and outline the steps needed to achieve their business development goals.

What's Included In This Business Development Strategy Template?

  • 3 focus areas
  • 6 objectives

Each focus area has its own objectives, projects, and KPIs to ensure that the strategy is comprehensive and effective.

Once you have set your template, you can also create up to two dashboards for real-time performance monitoring.

And yes - you get free access with no credit card required. ✅

Who Is This Business Development Strategy Template For?

This Business Development Strategy Template is for organizations of all sizes and industries that need to focus on business development for growth.

Whether you're a startup looking to gain traction, a small business aiming for expansion, or an established company seeking to innovate and stay ahead, this template will guide you in creating a comprehensive and effective growth strategy.

No matter the stage or size of your business, the Business Development Strategy template equips you with the tools, insights, and structure necessary to propel your growth, enhance your competitive advantage, and achieve your business objectives.

How To Use The Business Development Plan Template

Creating your Business Development Plan from scratch can be a heavy task. Our Business Development Strategy Template can help you streamline the planning process, so you can quickly get into the important part: the execution phase!

Just get into the template and follow these easy steps:

1. Define clear examples of your focus areas

The first step in creating a business development strategy is to define the focus areas . These are the areas of the business that need to be prioritized in order to achieve the desired results.

How to determine the right focus areas?

Defining the right focus areas is crucial for a successful business development strategy.

Here are some recommendations to help you identify and prioritize your focus areas effectively:

  • Align business goals : Align your focus areas with your organization's overall goals and objectives. Ensure that your focus areas directly contribute to the larger strategic vision of the company, such as revenue growth, market expansion, or product diversification.
  • Conduct a SWOT Analysis : Perform a thorough SWOT analysis to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Leverage your strengths, address weaknesses, and capitalize on opportunities while mitigating threats.
  • Analyze market trends & customer needs : Stay updated on market trends and customer preferences. Conduct market research to identify emerging opportunities and fulfill unmet customer needs. Align your focus areas with market trends and customer requirements to position your business for growth and differentiation.
  • Identify your target audience : Define your ideal customer profile and target audience based on demographics, psychographics, and behavior. This enables you to focus resources and tailor marketing efforts to reach and engage the right customers.
  • Consider the competitive landscape : Evaluate competitors and their strategies. Identify areas for gaining a competitive advantage or differentiating your offerings, such as pricing or marketing strategies. Look for market gaps to fill or areas to outperform competitors.
  • Engage key stakeholders : Involve senior management, department heads, and key employees in defining focus areas. Seek input from relevant stakeholders to gain diverse perspectives and ensure a broader understanding of the organization's needs and priorities.

Examples of focus areas for your Business Development Plan

Consider the following options when defining your focus areas based on your organization's priorities:

  • Market Expansion : Expand into new markets or increase market share in existing ones by targeting specific regions, demographics, or industries.
  • Product Development : Develop new products or enhance existing ones to better meet customer needs and preferences.
  • Customer Acquisition : Focus on acquiring new customers through marketing campaigns, lead generation, or sales process improvements.
  • Customer Retention : Improve customer loyalty and retention rates by enhancing support, implementing loyalty programs, or other customer satisfaction initiatives.
  • Strategic Partnerships : Establish partnerships with other businesses to expand reach, access new markets, or leverage complementary resources.
  • Operational Efficiency : Streamline workflows, adopt new technologies, or implement cost-saving measures to improve operational processes.
  • Branding and Marketing : Build a strong brand presence and implement effective marketing strategies, such as enhancing brand identity, optimizing digital marketing efforts, or exploring new advertising channels.
  • Talent Acquisition and Development : Attract and retain top talent through recruitment strategies, employee training and development programs, or by improving company culture.
For our Business Development Strategy Template we've defined the following focus areas: Increase Market Share, Increase Revenue, and Improve Customer Retention . You can easily customize them to fit your organization's needs.

2. Think about the objectives that could fall under that focus area

Once you identified your focus areas, it's time to think about the objectives that could fall under each of them. Objectives are specific goals that are designed to help you achieve the desired results from each focus area.

Here are some examples of objectives in our Business Development Plan Template for each focus area:

Increase Market Share

  • Expand customer base
  • Increase brand awareness
  • Diversify offerings to capture new market segments

Increase Revenue

  • Increase Sales
  • Implement cross-selling and upselling strategies

Enhance Operational Efficiency

  • Streamline internal processes and workflows
  • Improve resource utilization and allocation
  • Enhance operational scalability to support business growth

3. Set measurable targets (KPIs) to tackle the objective

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are the metrics that help to measure progress towards the objectives.

Examples of KPIs related to the objectives in the focus area of Increase Market Share could be:

Objective : Expand customer base

  • KPI : Increase the number of new customers acquired through referrals by 20%

Objective : Increase brand awareness

  • KPI : Boost brand recognition by increasing social media followers by 25%

Objective : Diversify offerings to capture new market segments

  • KPI : Expand market reach by entering 3 new market segments

Setting measurable targets is crucial for tracking progress and evaluating the success of your strategic business development plan. Make sure that your targets are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART).

Regularly monitor and assess your KPIs to stay on track and make adjustments as necessary to drive success.

💡Pro Tip: To simplify tracking and ensure progress, break down your long-term goals into short-term milestones with specific target dates. This approach helps you stay on top of your expected progress.

4. Implement related projects to achieve the KPIs

Once the KPIs have been set, it's time to implement related projects to achieve them. Projects should be specific and actionable, and they should be designed to help you reach your desired outcomes.

Examples of projects could include:

  • Project : Implement targeted lead generation campaigns through content marketing strategies.
  • Project : Create a detailed marketing plan encompassing strategies across multiple channels.
  • Project : Leverage customer feedback and market insights to identify new business opportunities.
💡Pro Tip: To promote accountability, make sure every KPI and project has an assigned owner that will be responsible for that initiative. You can also add collaborators, and share the plan amongst the business development team and team members from different business units to ensure everyone is aligned.

5. Utilize Cascade Strategy Execution Platform to see faster results from your strategy

Cascade Strategy Execution Platform is a powerful tool designed to help organizations create and manage business development strategies. It provides an easy-to-use interface for creating strategies, setting measurable targets, and implementing related projects. With its powerful analytics tools, Cascade allows you to track and measure progress and see faster results from your strategy.

Here are some key features to ensure your business development strategy’s success:

  • Integrations : Seamlessly connect Cascade with your team's preferred tools, consolidating all your information in one place. Benefit from over 1,000 integrations, ranging from communication platforms like Slack and MS Teams to project management tools such as Jira.
  • Reports : Generate concise real-time snapshot reports, ideal for presenting large volumes of data in an easily understandable format. Create executive summary reports for your leadership team within minutes, providing them with the key insights they need.
  • Dashboards : Monitor and understand progress, using powerful data displayed with beautiful simplicity by building the perfect strategy dashboard powered by automated goal tracking. You can share these dashboards with anyone, both internally and externally, allowing for effective collaboration and transparency.

business development strategy document

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  • A Game-Changing Business Development Strategy to Achieve Consistent Growth

Joe Pope

Your business development strategy can be key to the success or failure of your firm. In this post, we’ll explore how to create a strategy and associated plan that can propel an individual, a practice or an entire firm to new levels of growth and profitability.

Business Development Defined

Business development (BD) is the process that is used to identify, nurture and acquire new clients and business opportunities to drive growth and profitability. A business development strategy is a document that describes the strategy you will use to accomplish that goal.

The scope of business development can be wide ranging and vary a lot from organization to organization. Consider the model of how professional services organizations get new business shown in Figure 1.

business development funnel

Figure 1: The three stages of the business development funnel

The first two stages of the model, Attracting Prospects and Build Engagement, are traditional marketing functions. The final stage, Turning Opportunities into Clients, is a traditional sales function. In the traditional role, business development would be looking for new channels of distribution or marketing partners.

But roles are changing and naming conventions evolve. In today’s world many firms refer to the entire marketing and sales process as business development. I know, it can be confusing. So let’s sort it out a bit.

Business Development vs. Marketing

Marketing is the process of determining which products and services you will offer to which target audiences, at what price. It also addresses how you will position and promote your firm and it’s offerings in the competitive marketplace. The result of all this activity should be an increasing awareness of your firm among your target audience — and a stronger flow of qualified leads and opportunities.

Download the Business Development Guide

Historically, business development has been a subset of the marketing function that was focused on acquiring new marketing or distribution relationships and channels. While this role still exists in many companies, the business development title has become interchangeable with many marketing and sales functions.  

Business Development vs. Sales

Sales is the task of converting leads or opportunities into new clients. Business development is a broader term that encompasses many activities beyond the sales function. And while there is some overlap, most traditional BD roles are only lightly involved in closing new clients.  

Business development is often confused with sales. This is not too surprising because many people who are clearly in sales have taken to using the title of Business Developer . Presumably this is done because the organization believes that the BD designation avoids some possible stigma associated with sales.

Nowhere is this practice more prevalent than in professional services. Accountants, lawyers and strategy consultants do not want to be seen as “pushy sales people.” This titular bias is firmly rooted despite the fact that developing new business is an important role of most senior members of professional services firms.

Since so many clients want to meet and get to know the professionals they will be working with, the Seller-doer role is well established in many firms. The preference for Seller-doers also tends to discourage firms from fielding a full-time sales force.

As an alternative approach to leveraging fee-earners’ time, some firms have one or more Business Developers on staff. In the professional services context, these folks are often involved in lead generation and qualification, as well as supporting the Seller-doers in their efforts to close new clients. In other organizational contexts, this role might be thought of as a sales support role.

The result of this confusing picture is that many professional services firms call sales “business development” and make it part of every senior professional’s role. They may also include some marketing functions, such as lead generation and lead nurturing, into the professional’s BD responsibilities.

It is this expanded role, where business development encompasses the full range of lead generation, nurturing and sales tasks, which we will concentrate on in this post.

See also: Heller Consulting Case Story

Business Development Examples

To be clear on what this role entails, let’s consider this business development example:

Bethany is the Director of Business Development at a fictional mid-sized architecture firm. She is not an architect herself. Nor is she involved with any aspect of delivering the projects that the firm has signed. Instead, her role is exclusively focused on signing new business for her firm—with either new clients or existing ones. 

For new clients, Bethany spends much of her time responding to RFPs, communicating directly with inbound leads generated by the marketing/sales enablement team, and nurturing potential clients that she met at a recent industry conference. Bethany also collaborates with the marketing team in the development of new materials she needs to sell to new accounts.

When it comes to existing accounts, Bethany also has a role. She meets monthly with delivery teams to understand whether current client projects are on scope or if change orders are needed. Moreover, she maintains a relationship with key stakeholders of her firm’s clients. If another opportunity for more work opens, she knows that her relationship with the client is an important component to that potential deal.

In this example, Bethany is the primary driver of business development but that does not mean she is doing this alone. Imagine she has a colleague Greg who is a lead architect at the firm. While Greg’s first focus is delivering for his clients, business development—and even marketing—should still be a part of his professional life. Perhaps Greg attends an industry conference with Bethany, he as a speaker and expert and her as the primary networker. The business development dynamic should not end with Bethany and should permeate the whole organization.

In this business development example, you can see that the range of roles and responsibilities is wide. This is why it is essential for business development to not be ad hoc, but done strategically. Let’s talk about that now.

Strategic Business Development

Not all business development is of equal impact. In fact a lot of the activities of many professionals are very opportunistic and tactical in nature.This is especially true with many seller-doers. 

Caught between the pressures of client work and an urgent need for new business they cast about for something quick and easy that will produce short term results. Of course this is no real strategy at all.

Strategic business development is the alignment of business development processes and procedures with your firm’s strategic business goals. The role of strategic business development is to acquire ideal clients for your highest priority services using brand promises that you can deliver upon.

 Deciding which targets to pursue and strategies to employ to develop new business is actually a high stakes decision. A good strategy, well implemented, can drive high levels of growth and profitability. A faulty strategy can stymie growth and frustrate valuable talent.

Yet many firms falter at this critical step. They rely on habit, anecdotes and fads — or worse still, “this is how we have always done it.” In a later section we’ll cover how to develop your strategic business development plan. But first we’ll cover some of the strategies that may go into that plan.

Top Business Development Strategies

Let’s look at some of the most common business development strategies and how they stack up with today’s buyers .

Networking is probably the most universally used business development strategy. It’s built on the theory that professional services buying decisions are rooted in relationships, and the best way to develop new relationships is through face-to-face networking.

It certainly is true that many relationships do develop in that way. And if you are networking with your target audience, you can develop new business. But there are limitations. Today’s buyers are very time pressured, and networking is time consuming. It can be very expensive, if you consider travel and time away from the office.

Newer digital networking techniques can help on the cost and time front. But even social media requires an investment of time and attention.

The close relative of networking, referrals are often seen as the mechanism that turns networking and client satisfaction into new business. You establish a relationship, and that person refers new business to you. Satisfied clients do the same.

Clearly, referrals do happen, and many firms get most or all of their business from them. But referrals are passive. They rely on your clients and contacts to identify good prospects for your services and make a referral at the right time.

The problem is referral sources often do not know the full range of how you can help a client. So many referrals are poorly matched to your capabilities. Other well-matched referrals go unmade because your referral source fails to recognize a great prospect when they see one. Finally, many prospects that might be good clients rule out your firm before even talking with you. One recent study puts the number at over 50%.

Importantly, there are new digital strategies that can accelerate referrals. Making your specific expertise more visible is the key. This allows people to make better referrals and increases your referral base beyond clients and a few business contacts.

Learn More: Referral Marketing Course

Sponsorships and Advertising

Can you develop new business directly by sponsoring events and advertising? It would solve a lot of problems if it works. No more trying to get time from fully utilized billable professionals.

Unfortunately, the results on this front are not very encouraging. Studies have shown that traditional advertising is actually associated with slower growth. Only when advertising is combined with other techniques, such as speaking at an event, do these techniques bear fruit.

The most promising advertising strategy seems to be well-targeted digital advertising. This allows firms to get their messages and offers in front of the right people at a lower cost.

Outbound Telephone and Mail

Professional services firms have been using phone calls and mail to directly target potential clients for decades. Target the right firms and roles with a relevant message and you would expect to find new opportunities that can be developed into clients.

There are a couple of key challenges with these strategies. First they are relatively expensive, so they need to be just right to be effective. Second, if you don’t catch the prospect at the right time, your offer may have no appeal relevance — and consequently, no impact on business development.

The key is to have a very appealing offer delivered to a very qualified and responsive list. It’s not easy to get this combination right.

Thought Leadership and Content Marketing

Here, the strategy is to make your expertise visible to potential buyers and referral sources. This is accomplished through writing, speaking or publishing content that demonstrates your expertise and how it can be applied to solve client problems.

Books, articles and speaking engagements have long been staples of professional services business development strategy. Many high visibility experts have built their practices and firms upon this strategy. It often takes a good part of a career to execute this approach.

But changing times and technology have reshaped this strategy. With the onset of digital communication it is now easier and much faster to establish your expertise with a target market. Search engines have leveled the playing field so that relatively unknown individuals and firms can become known even outside their physical region. Webinars have democratized public speaking, and blogs and websites give every firm a 24/7 presence. Add in video and social media and the budding expert can access a vastly expanded marketplace.

But these developments also open firms to much greater competition as well. You may find yourself competing with specialists whom you were never aware of. The impact is to raise the stakes on your business development strategy.

Combined Strategies

It is common to combine different business development strategies. For example, networking and referrals are frequently used together. And on one level, a combined strategy makes perfect sense. The strength of one strategy can shore up the weakness of another.

But there is a hidden danger. For a strategy to perform at its peak, it must be fully implemented. There is a danger that by attempting to execute too many different strategies you will never completely implement any of them.

Good intentions, no matter how ambitious, are of little real business development value. Under-investment, lack of follow through and inconsistent effort are the bane of effective business development.

It is far more effective to fully implement a simple strategy than to dabble in a complex one. Fewer elements, competently implemented, produce better results.

Next, we turn our attention to the tactics used to implement a high-level strategy. But first there is a bit of confusion to clear up.

Business Development Strategy Vs. Tactics

The line between strategy and tactics is not always clear. For example, you can think of networking as an overall business development strategy or as a tactic to enhance the impact of a thought leadership strategy. Confusing to be sure.

From our perspective, the distinction is around focus and intent. If networking is your business development strategy all your focus should be on making the networking more effective and efficient. You will select tactics that are aimed at making networking more powerful or easier. You may try out another marketing technique and drop it if it does not help you implement your networking strategy.

On the other hand, if networking is simply one of many tactics, your decision to use it will depend on whether it supports your larger strategy. Tactics and techniques can be tested and easily changed. Strategy, on the other hand, is a considered choice and does not change from day to day or week to week.

10 Most Effective Business Development Tactics

Which business development tactics are most effective? To find out, we recently conducted a study that looked at over 1000 professional services firms. The research identified those firms that were growing at greater than a 20% compound annual growth rate over a three-year period.

These High Growth firms were compared to firms in the same industry that did not grow over the same time period. We then examined which business development tactics were employed by each group and which provided the most impact.

The result is a list of the ten most impactful tactics employed by the High Growth firms:

  • Outbound sales calls from internal teams
  • Providing assessments and/or consultations
  • Speaking at targeted conferences or events
  • Live product/service demonstrations
  • Presenting in educational webinars
  • Pursuing industry award opportunities
  • Business development materials
  • Email marketing campaigns
  • Conducting and publishing original research
  • Networking at targeted conferences or events

There are a couple of key observations about these growth tactics. First, these techniques can be employed in service of different business development strategies. For example number three on the list, speaking at targeted conferences or events, can easily support a networking or a thought leadership strategy.

The other observation is that the top tactics include a mix of both digital and traditional techniques. As we will see when we develop your plan, having a healthy mix of digital and traditional techniques tends to increase the impact of your strategy.

Business Development Skills

Now that we have identified the key business development strategies and tactics, it is time to consider the business development skills your team will need. Business development skills require a broad range of technical skills but there are some that make a difference.

When the Hinge Research Institute studied marketing and business development skills in our annual High Growth Study , we found that the firms who grow faster have a skill advantage within their marketing and business development teams.

business development strategy document

Let’s dive into the top three skills from this list. 

The number one business development skill high growth firms enjoy are strong project management skills. And for experienced business development specialists, this makes good sense. Staying organized, accurately tracking business development activity, and managing accounts are essential for building and maintaining strong business relationships. Activities like the proposal development see business development team resources manage and produce a strong proposal quickly, including the right stakeholders, and without sacrificing quality.

The next most important skill is simplifying complex concepts. In business development conversations, it is vital that team members are strong communicators of your firm’s service offerings and capabilities. Those who are able to take a comlex scope of work and communicate it in a way that a potential buyer can understand. Speaking in industry jargon or overly complicated charts is a fast way to see a business lead become unresponsive. Therefore, it is no surprise to see that the fastest growing professional services firms have an advantage in communicating complex information in a way that buyers understand.

The third most important business development skill is face-to-face networking. Despite the hiatus of many in-person events, high growth firms still reported that strong networking skills are a top skill enjoyed by their firms. Strong face-to-face networking skills are as much of an art as it is a science. While some can be more charismatic than others, everyone can prepare their teams with the resources and plan they need to succeed in a networking environment.

Review the other business development and marketing skills in the figure above and determine which skills your team should aim to develop. Strategy development for planning your business development plan, research for understanding the competitive landscape and industry trends, and social media prowess all play an important role in business development, too. Developing these skills should be a key priority of your business development team.

How to Create Your Strategic Business Development Plan

A Business Development Plan is a document that outlines how you implement your business development strategy. It can be a plan for an individual, a practice or the firm as a whole. Its scope covers both the marketing and sales functions, as they are so intertwined in most professional services firms.

Here are the key steps to develop and document your plan.

Define your target audience

Who are you trying to attract as new clients? Focus on your “best-fit” clients, not all possible prospects. It is most effective to focus on a narrow target audience. But don’t go so narrow that you can’t achieve your business goals.

Research their issues, buying behavior and your competitors

The more you know about your target audience the better equipped you will be to attract their attention and communicate how you can help them. What are their key business issues? Is your expertise relevant to those issues? Where do they look for advice and inspiration? What is the competitive environment like? How do you stack up?

Identify your competitive advantage

What makes you different? Why is that better for your target client? Are you the most cost-effective alternative, or the industry’s leading expert? This “positioning” as it is often called, needs to be true, provable and relevant to the prospect at the time they are choosing which firm to work with. Be sure to document this positioning, as you will use it over and over again as you develop your messages and marketing tools.

Choose your overall business development strategy

Pick the broad strategy or strategies to reach, engage and convert your prospects. You can start with the list of top strategies provided above. Which strategy fits with the needs and preferences of your target audiences? Which ones best convey your competitive advantage? For example, if you are competing because you have superior industry expertise, a thought leadership/content marketing strategy will likely serve you well.

Click to play video

Choose your business development tactics

A great place to start is the list of the most effective tactics we provided above. Make sure that each technique you select fits your target audience and strategy. Remember, it’s not about your personal preferences or familiarity with a tactic. It’s about what works with the audience.

Also, you will need to balance your choices in two important ways: First, you will need tactics that address each stage of the business development pipeline shown in Figure 1. Some techniques work great for gaining visibility but do not address longer-term nurturing. You need to cover the full funnel.

Second, you need a good balance between digital and traditional techniques (Figure 2). Your research should inform this choice. Be careful about assumptions. Just because you don’t use social media doesn’t mean that a portion of your prospects don’t use it to check you out.

Online and Traditional Marketing

Figure 2. Online and offline marketing techniques

When, how often, which conferences, what topics? Now is the time to settle on the details that turn a broad strategy into a specific plan. Many plans include a content or marketing calendar that lays out the specifics, week by week. If that is too much detail for you, at least document what you will be doing and how often. You will need these details to monitor the implementation of your plan.

Specify how you will monitor implementation and impact

Often overlooked, these important considerations often spell the difference between success and failure. Unimplemented strategies don’t work. Keep track of what you do, and when. This will both motivate action and provide a great starting place as you troubleshoot your strategy. Also monitor and record the impacts you see. The most obvious affect will be how much new business you closed. But you should also monitor new leads or new contacts, at the bare minimum. Finally, don’t neglect important process outcomes such as referrals, new names added to your list and downloads of content that expose prospects and referral sources to your expertise.

If you follow these steps you will end up with a documented business development strategy and a concrete plan to implement and optimize it.


How Hinge Can Help

Hinge, a global leader in professional services branding and marketing, helps firms grow faster and become more profitable. Our research-based strategies are designed to be  implemented.  In fact, our groundbreaking  Visible Firm ®  program  combines strategy, implementation, training and more.

Additional Resources

  • For hands-on help developing a high-performance business development plan, register for our  Visible Firm ®  course  through Hinge University.
  • Keep pace with the marketplace, generate leads and build your reputation all at once:  Marketing Planning Guide.
  • Find out how to turn your firm into a high-visibility, high-growth business. Download our free executive guide,  The Visible Firm® , in which we layout a detailed roadmap of this research-based program.
  • For more insights, check out our blog post, How to Develop a Winning Go-to-Market Strategy for Your Firm  

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9 steps for writing a strategic business development plan Chevron down rounded

9 steps for writing a strategic business development plan.

Updated 04 October 2023 • 7 min read

Developing a business plan can mark the start of an exciting phase, as you start charting future growth. This document serves as the roadmap for your business development strategy as you take your business to new heights.

Creating an effective business development plan can be a tough task. It requires you to think through several aspects of your business that you may not consider on a day-to-day basis.

Don’t worry — we’re here to help. This article will walk you through how to write a business development plan, so you can grow your business in the most effective way possible. 

What is a business development plan?

A business development plan is the growth roadmap for your business. It’s a strategy document that lays out where you want to take your business and how you intend to get there. 

A thorough and carefully crafted business development plan lays out your growth targets, financial projections and the tools and resources your company needs. It may also define your marketing and efforts that support your goals.

A business development plan provides clarity and helps you keep your objectives in focus during the day-to-day grind. It also provides a strong foundation for making business decisions — if you’re not sure whether a move makes sense, you can always consult your plan.

Why do you need a business development plan?

Creating a proper business development strategy can be a lot of work. But it pays dividends by providing clarity and focus. It also helps when trying to secure funding, as it shows you've thought through all the possibilities. 

A business development plan helps you:

Get clarity

A strong business development plan helps you get clear about priorities during the hectic launch phase of your business. It helps you define your goals and objectives, as well as chart out how you’ll reach them. 

Stay focused

As you dive into the day-to-day running of your business, it can be easy to get bogged down in details and lose sight of your larger goals. Your business plan provides an anchor that keeps you in place. And if you’re already in business, it can help you take a step back and refocus on the fundamentals.

Secure funding

A detailed business plan is one of the most effective ways to show investors that you can be trusted. This is especially important when you’re just starting out and have no track record of performance. Your business plan shows that you’ve thought about how your business will fare in the long run, not just in the short term.

Achieve growth

A proper business development plan should include a roadmap. This is your high-level strategy document that serves as the map to your company’s growth. It lays out how you’ll measure success, provides targets to aim for and defines your plans for hitting them.

How to write a business development plan

If you’re convinced that you need to write your own business development plan (or update the one you have), you might be wondering where to start. Let’s walk through the process. 

1. Set clear financial goals

Your business development strategy should include clear financial goals. For example, every business wants to increase sales; however, that’s not a specific goal. Instead, set a target for your sales figures within a certain timeframe, and keep it realistic by using your current numbers as a baseline.

To do this, project your revenue, profit and expenses if business were to stay the same. Then consider what a realistic target might be and include that. This number may be lower than you'd expect, but it’s more important that it’s actually achievable.

2. Refine customer profiles

Detailed customer and audience profiles help your business effectively target its marketing efforts. Your business might already have customer profiles — updating your business plan is a perfect time to update these profiles, as well. And if you don’t have profiles yet, there’s no time like the present.

You can start refining your customer profiles by examining your current customer base. Look at their demographics and habits. Then use a similar strategy to create profiles of your ideal customers.

3. Identify key growth opportunities

Next, identify your key growth opportunities. These could be new products or services, an expansion into a new market, or even a complete rebuild of your current offerings.

Whatever these opportunities are, include them in your business development plan. Articulate how and why these opportunities will help grow the business. 

4. List funding sources

Your plan should include not just the amount of funding you’ll need, but how you plan to get it — loans , equity investors or crowdfunding , for example. Now is the time to come up with an in-depth funding strategy. Doing this legwork on the front end, while developing your plan, makes it easier to focus on execution when stress inevitably creeps in. 

This part of your plan should include the sources you’ve secured, as well as those you’d like to seek funds from. It should also include how much you’ll seek from each source, what form those funds will take, and any obstacles you might encounter.

5. Determine operational needs

You’ve laid out your goals, growth opportunities and potential funding sources. Now, look over these items and determine how to make all this happen. 

Be aware that as your operational needs expand, your business expenses will also increase. For example, you may require additional equipment, a new warehouse to enable expanded logistics, or more employees to help serve customers. Whatever it is, build it into your business development plan.

6. Develop a sales and marketing strategy

Your business development plan is the perfect place to include sales and marketing strategies. Ultimately, these will be some of the key drivers for leveraging your growth opportunities and hitting your financial goals.

As you draft these ideas, run them through this simple test: Will they still hold up if you reach your growth targets, or will you need to rework them? Ideally, you want sales and marketing strategies that can grow along with your business.

7. Create your elevator pitch

Your elevator pitch is the short-and-sweet version of your company’s mission. The premise is simple: If you were to meet someone on an elevator and only had that brief ride to pitch your company, what would you say?

Some people adopt arbitrary rules on their elevator pitch, such as limiting it to a Twitter-length 280 characters. While this limitation isn’t necessary, it should give you a good idea of the brevity of an elevator pitch and the impact you’ll need to make. 

8. Identify your resource needs

You’ve identified your broad operational needs — equipment, facilities and employees. You’ll also want to identify your resource needs. These include how you might manage your technology and team members in a more specific way.

For example, if your marketing plan involves creating video content, you’ll need the proper equipment and software to create it. Your sales strategy might involve retooling your CRM or migrating to a new system. Or, your growth targets might mean that you need to move to a new accounting platform .

9. Determine how you'll measure success

Last, but certainly not least, you’ll need to decide how you’ll measure progress towards your goals. How will you know when you’ve hit that ambitious sales target or grown your business in that new market? 

You need to be able to measure your business performance and progress. Setting targets and KPIs for your employees may be good ways to keep things on track.

Business Development Plan Template

If you need a business development plan example, we’ve put together this template . It’ll help you shape your own business plan and outline the key sections. 

Stay productive and profitable with MYOB

A strong business development plan is a powerful asset for driving growth. It helps you outline your plans and stay on course, even when you’re overwhelmed with day-to-day tasks. 

Achieving your business goals is much easier when you have help — and that doesn’t mean you need to hire more people. MYOB accounting software automates business operations like invoicing, payroll, and tax reporting, so you can spend more time focusing on strategic growth.

Related Guides

How to get a business loan, how to find investors: a guide for startups.

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business development strategy document

A company’s goals are an integral part of its productivity. When your team understands what targets they need to hit, they have something clear to strive for and feel a sense of pride when they succeed. Setting intentions about where your business is going and how to get there is an important part of the building process.

Gain clarity about what your company’s objectives are with the help of a free business development plan template. We’ll share a fully customizable template with you that you can use on But before that, this article looks at the benefits of using such templates and what you should include in a business development plan.

Get the template

What is a business development plan template?

business development strategy document

A business development plan template is a customizable document that outlines the objectives of your business and actionable steps to meet them. These can be your company’s long or short-term goals, amounts needed for start-up costs, or specific milestones, such as hitting a specific monthly sales target, or getting your first repeat client. The plan outlines steps to take to get to those goals and assigns specific tasks to individuals to hold them accountable for meeting the deadlines.

A business development plan template is a pre-formatted tool that describes your business objectives and how you’ll achieve them.

Although you can always write these plans down in a regular, static document, many businesses opt to use a customizable pre-built format to get off to a strong start.

Why use a business development plan template?

As a business owner, creating a custom, agile business development plan helps you gain clarity regarding decision-making on areas, such as investments, resources, and budgeting. Unlike with pen and paper, or even a word doc, a template is dynamic. You can move initiatives around, assign ownership, store all relevant information on the template itself, and customize any aspect of the template from labels, template structure and appearance, automations, and more.

Of course, there are a lot of things to consider when it comes to creating a well-thought-out document. Below, we’ll discuss some of the things you may want to consider and include in your business development plan.

What to include in a business development plan

A business development plan comes into play during the growth stage of your business. By specifying your targets and plans of action, the business development plan becomes a roadmap for achieving growth and success. To ensure you have a strong plan, consider including the elements summarized below.

Financial goals

A business’s growth is largely based on its financial success, so it’s critical to assess your current financial position to set targets for the future. Start by:

  • Looking to your past and current revenue as a baseline for what your business brings in
  • Assessing your overhead costs versus your profits
  • Setting goals for bringing in higher profits and revenue in the coming months and years
  • Getting specific about your timeline, so you can reassess your financial position when you hit those dates

Funding plan

Meeting your financial goals and achieving financial growth requires funding. Use this section of the business development plan to determine the amount of business capital you currently have and what steps you can take to secure more funding in the future within your target market segment.

Opportunities for growth

Look at your business to identify where you have room to grow. This will vary depending on what industry and business you work in. For some, this might mean developing a new line of products or adding additional services that can attract new clients and boost revenue.

Operational needs

Examine operational needs and take a practical look at what needs to change in the daily function of your business to support expansion and further development. This could mean investing in new equipment or hiring additional personnel to oversee specific departments or projects.

Sales and marketing plans

An important part of business growth is how you promote your company to consumers. Determine a marketing strategy to get customers excited about your new products and services or to inform consumers of investments you’re making in equipment upgrades. Your marketing plans are how you’ll communicate your investments and improvements to drive growth through customer interest.

Understand strengths and weaknesses 

Creating a business development plan requires a firm understanding of your company’s strengths and weaknesses. To identify these, consider performing a SWOT analysis . You can use the resulting information to develop a strategic plan to leverage strengths and improve on weak areas across all aspects of your business.

Building your team

For a business to grow successfully, you must also expand your workforce. This means hiring new team members and learning to delegate tasks with a lower priority or difficulty level, so you can focus on matters of high-level priority. Use this part of your plan to assess what tasks you can assign to someone else and how many people you might need to hire to meet the demands of your growing business.

Having a plan to develop your business is a great foundation. But you also need tools to put that plan into action. Starting with a solution that lets you bring people together, communicate priorities, and manage tasks can increase your chances of success. supports business development and planning

Your business development plan template is the starting point for your company’s expansion. As you move toward creating targets and future plans for your business, you can make use of the many other features and templates on to understand where you’re at with your business and what areas are ready to support growth. lets you create workflows to plan and track projects and day-to-day processes. Connect off-platform tools necessary for collaboration and communication with team members from around the world, and leverage no-code automation opportunities to streamline repetitive tasks.

You can start with our Business Development Plan Template, customizing the columns to meet your specific needs.  Take notes, mention team members on tasks to get their feedback, or color-code your business development plan to create a visual that’s easy to digest at a glance.

business development strategy document

Once you’re ready to put your business development plan into action, turn to our Template Center for plenty of other tools to help you get started on various tasks.

Related templates 

A business development plan template isn’t the only useful tool for growing your business. Consider some of these other options to help your teams increase efficiency and promote growth.

One-page business plan template

Our easy-to-use One-page Business Plan Template is meant to provide an overview of your objectives and deadlines at a glance. Completing the one-page business plan template creates a reference point for the scope of your business objectives that you can easily return to at any time.

Business executive summary template

Our Business Executive Summary Template is an ideal tool when you’re preparing to pitch your company to investors. It offers a guide for emphasizing the core of your business plan in a way that appeals to the interests of your target audience. You can include sales/marketing plans, staff expenses, and long-term goals to provide prospective stakeholders with a clear picture of where your business stands and where it’s going.

Writing business plans is easier when you start with a template. But knowing what to include and what might be most important can help you make the most of such documents. Check the FAQs below for some more tips.

FAQs about business development plan templates

business development strategy document

What are the main parts of a business plan?

A solid business plan should have four key components. The main parts of a business plan include:

  • An executive summary
  • A marketing plan
  • Key management bios
  • A financial plan that includes cost and pricing information

What is the most important part of a business plan?

The executive summary is the most important part of any business plan. The executive summary acts as the preface to the overall business plan and the hook that gets readers excited about the possibility of investing in your company. The goal of the executive summary is to entice the investor to read the rest of your plan, so aim for the most polished version possible.

Build your company’s future with a business development plan template from 

Your business development strategy is critical to growing your company and meeting future goals. Using templates from can help you build your business development plan to drive success.

Having a business plan creates a 30% higher chance of growth for your business compared to businesses that don’t start with written action plans. A customizable, user-friendly business development plan template provides a starting point to realizing your objectives.

business development strategy document

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Business Development Strategy

4 Key Business Development Strategies for Optimal Growth

Emily Barr July 16, 2020 Alignment & Direction , Coaching & Leadership , Leaders

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Your company’s business development strateg ies  can be the key to the success or failure of your organization.   It is the secret ingredient  to  transforming your business into one comprised of strong relationships, promising prospects, and increased revenues. Creating a strategy and an associated plan, and leveraging it in the right way, can propel an employee, a team, or an entire company to new levels of growth and profitability.   

What is a Business Development Strategy?  

Business development is the process used to identify, nurture, and acquire new clients and business opportunities to drive organizational growth and increase profits.  Essentially, it is the creation of long-term value for a business from customers, markets, and relationships. The  business development strategy  is the document that outlines the strategy you will use to accomplish that goal.   

The Importance of a Good Business Development Strategy  

A strong business development strategy is the framework that instructs your team on how to find and generate high-value leads that will ultimately support the company’s long-term goals. If you do not have a strategy in place, your employees may struggle to identify those qualifying prospects, or even spend valuable time developing relationships with prospects who will never convert.   

The scope of what business development looks like is wide, varying from organization to organization. Generally, professional service organizations generate new business by following a three-tier funnel approach. The first two stages are Attracting Prospects and Building Engagement, which are traditionally marketing functions. The third and final stage, Turning Opportunities into Clients, is traditionally a sales function. In this structure, the business development plan would be to seek out new channels of sales and distribution, as well as new marketing partners. This is an example of strategic business development.  

Strategic Business Development  

Strategic business development aims to align business development processes and procedures with the company’s strategic business goals. The object is to acquire the ideal clients for the organization’s highest priority services, accomplished by using brand promises that you are able to deliver on.   

Actually,  determining which targets to pursue, and which business development strategies to employ, to generate new business can be a risky decision. When a strategy is strong, suitable for the company’s goals, and is well implemented, it has the potential to drive high levels of growth and profitability for the business. A faulty strategy and implementation, however, can hinder growth and frustrate your top  performers and most valuable talent.  This is why it is critical to have a thorough understanding of the business development strategies that yield the best results for your company, and how to go about embedding those into your business development plan as a whole.  

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Creating a Business Development Strategy for Optimal Growth  

The four-step process  .

There are four main stages to go through when creating a firm, reliable business development strategy for your organization.  

1. Identify Your Audience  

In order to create a business development strategy that yields optimal growth and profit opportunities, you first need to identify your ideal audience. Focus on specific firms, industry fields, or individuals that are sure to propel your business forward. Aim for quality over quantity – a large audience is not always necessary, but a high-performing one always is.   

Keep in mind that successful business development does not happen overnight. Strong relationships may take months, or even years, to turn into a sale. Similarly, unsuitable prospects will not reveal themselves to be so after your first encounter. This is why it’s important to nail down the exact target audience, so you don’t waste valuable time fostering a relationship with an unqualified prospect who will never close the deal.  

2. Perform Market Research  

Once your audience has been identified, you now need to learn as much as you can about them. Before you can begin encouraging them to work with you, you should be able to answer the following questions about them:   

  • What are their primary issues?  
  • What services do they need?  
  • What is their approach to problem-solving currently?  
  • How can your  product  or service improve their current situation?  

Once you have a response to these questions, then you can begin to analyze your competition. Identify what sets you out from your competitors,  leveraging that difference as your competitive advantage that you can then when communicating your value to prospects.   

3. Determine the Appropriate Channels  

Once you have identified your target audience, learned everything there is to know about them, and established a plan of action to set you apart from your competitors, you can begin to outline the channels you will use to achieve your target. This involves assessing your total revenue goals for the  year and  outlining the specific methods you will use to reach those goals. These channels are covered in the top business development strategies and tactics you can use to generate new business, which we will discuss later.   

4. Define S.M.A.R.T. Goals  

For each channel you have, set S.M.A.R.T (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-related) goals that will help you to measure and track your progress. Your overall business development goal does not necessarily have to be directly tied to generating profit and revenue, but there should be a component that aims at introducing new prospects to your company’s sales funnel.  

Sprigg makes it easy to set effective SMART Goals that set you up for success!

The Top Business Development Strategies to Use Today  

As discussed, the business development strategies used by your company can also be described as channels through which you work to achieve your total revenue and business targets. The most common business development strategies are a combination of networking, referrals, advertising, and content marketing. It is through the strategic use and leveraging of these outreach tactics that companies nurture successful business relationships and partnerships.  

1. Networking

As the most universally used business strategy, networking is built on the theory that professional services buying decisions are rooted in trusted relationships, and the key to best developing new relationships is through face-to-face networking.   

While many business relationships continue to develop that way, and the benefits of direct networking with your target audience remain valuable, networking can be an outdated practice in today’s market if utilized incorrectly. Modern buyers and prospects are time pressured, more so than they used to be, and face-to-face networking is a time-consuming process. It can also be expensive, if travel and time away from the office become habitual.   

Companies can use new digital networking techniques to help cover the cost and time, reducing networking to a digital outreach strategy rather than a regular in-person meeting, but even social media requires an investment of valuable time and attention that can be lost if misused.  

2. Referrals

Closely related to networking are referrals, which are often regarded as the mechanism that turns networking and client satisfaction into new business. A positive relationship with a satisfied customer can open the door to a whole new network of prospects, but reliance upon client referrals to drum up new business is risky if it is your only approach to growing as a company.   

Referrals are useful, but they are also passive. They rely on your clients to identify the good prospects of your services, rather than you  outlining  a strategic advertisement plan, and also requires that they make referrals at the right time.  While successful referrals happen all the time, referral sources often do not know the full range of how your products and services can help a potential client, meaning their success rate is much lower than if you were to do the outreach yourself.   

Luckily, there are several new digital strategies that can accelerate the rate of positive and well-matched referrals. A critical point of this is boosting the visibility of your specific expertise. Your existing clients will have a better understanding of what it is you offer, leading to better referrals and an increase in a referral base larger than a few clients and business contacts.   

3. Sponsorships and Advertising

Paid advertising and sponsored partnerships are a solid business development tactic. In today’s age when traditional advertising methods are losing their long-standing success rate, turning to well-targeted digital advertising is critical. The key to digital advertising is to find your target audience on their preferred  platform and  start your growth there. If your audience are avid YouTube users, create strong, targeted video ads and run them on there. If they have high engagement rates with your brand on Twitter, invest in advertisement there. Appropriately directed advertisements allow companies to get their messages and offers in front of the right people, without the excessive costs of general, sweeping ads on various platforms.   

4. Thought Leadership and Content Marketing

The business development strategy of thought leadership and content marketing has one primary goal: make your expertise visible to potential clients and referral sources. We have already discussed the importance of refining your referral process to ensure the right expertise is being advertised among your referral pool, but that can only be achieved when your specific expertise is completely apparent.   

This strategy can be accomplished through writing, speaking, or publishing content that demonstrates your expertise, and also how it can be applied to solve client problems. Long staples of professional business development strategies include books, articles, and speaking engagements, meaning many high visibility experts have built up their practices and businesses upon this strategy specifically.   

Like all other approaches, changing times and technologies have reshaped the way this strategy can be leveraged to its highest potential. With digital communication the new norm, establishing your expertise to your target market is much easier and quicker than it used to be. Search engines have levelled the playing field, so that even relatively unknown individuals and businesses can become known to potential prospects outside their physical region. Webinars are commonplace, a democratized version that dominates the space public speaking used to take up, and blogs and websites give every business a firm 24/7 presence on the market.   

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In Summary  

It is far more common than not for companies to combine different business development strategies to best suit their business and to reach their identified targets. However, it is essential that any approach to business development be carefully curated to eliminate the losses that come from misguided attempts to acquire new clients and business opportunities. Good intentions,  no matter  how ambitious, are of little real business development value. It is far more effective to implement a simple strategic plan than to dabble in several complex ones in hopes of positive results. Fewer elements, when competently implemented, always produce better results.   

Ultimately, your business development strategy is the key to the success or failure of your company. It should be a primary goal to develop a strategy, and an associated plan of action, that will propel you and your company to new levels of growth and profitability.   

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business development strategy document

business development strategy document

5 Essential Components for Business Development Strategy Plans

  • March 3, 2022

Business Strategy

Leaders in the business development world are not likely to share the exact same opinions when it comes to the definition of business development. While all leaders in the field are familiar with the task, specific roles and experiences can easily set a precedent for what exactly business development is to them. One of the more commonly recognized definitions of business development can be described as the process of using existing relationships, markets, and consumers for the purposes of long-term organizational value formation, or in more basic terms, the creation of long-term value for a business. 

Why Business Development Strategy Planning Is Valuable

The building blocks of a strong business development strategy can be utilized as a set of guidelines that can lead your team forward when looking to generate valuable prospects that will support the long-term goals of the business. If your business lacks a business development strategy, a significant amount of time and resources can be unnecessarily spent on prospects that lack the value your business is looking for. 

The number one goal of a new business development strategy planning is to grow your company. Promoting growth within your business is not always an easy task, but what you can gain from doing so can be very valuable. Below are a few of the many reasons why business development strategy planning is so valuable. 

  • Strategic business development planning can build relationships. 
  • Strategic business development planning can increase your business’s revenue and lower its costs. 
  • Strategic business development planning can enhance and promote your brand’s voice and image.
  • Strategic business development planning can introduce your company to new and untapped markets.

Creating A Unique Business Development Strategy Plan

Below are the most important steps a business can take when looking to create a well-founded new business development strategy.

1. Defining Your Business’s Goals

When there is not a strategic business development plan in place, there is a much higher chance for key business objectives to slip through the cracks and not be achieved. 

Though well-defined goals are vital, these goals can cover a wide array of objectives. For example, business development goals can be related to the sales process or marketing process, internal, external, or many other things.

A great method to utilize when defining goals for your business is the SMART method. The SMART method is a great method for defining development goals that are actually achievable rather than being idealistic. SMART goals consist of goals that are:

When you have a fully realized understanding of the goals that you are aiming to achieve accompanied by realistic plans on how to achieve these goals, the probability of success can dramatically increase. Rather than focusing on the number of goals a business is trying to achieve, spend time focusing on the quality of these goals. It is more valuable for a company to work towards 5 important goals rather than 500 inessential goals.

2. Identifying The Target Audience Of Your Business

The first stage in creating the optimal business development strategy is a clear understanding of the business’s target market/target audience. Remember that if you as a business are trying to market to everyone, you’re not reaching anyone closely. An important thing to remember is that while a company does not need a large audience, they do need a high-quality audience. It is considerably easier for businesses to develop a successful marketing plan and new business strategy after these categories have been clearly defined.

Business development is not typically a process that happens quickly. This is why understanding how the developed relationships your business makes can lead to future sales. This is why fostering relationships with prospects that are a part of your target audience can be so valuable.

Those in the world of business understand that customers react better to personalized and informed business development strategies rather than ones that feel disconnected and impersonal. This is why in so many cases buyers tend to make their purchases from the company that they feel better aligns with them. Whether it be B2B or B2C, buyers want to know that what they are being sold aligns with their interests. 

3. Performing Quality Market Research

After your target audience is well defined, understanding their needs as much as possible can be very helpful. Before establishing a relationship with your target audience, these essential questions should be answerable:

  • What significant issues do they face?
  • What particular services could benefit them?
  • How are they currently going about problem-solving?
  • How does your offering aid their problem-solving?

Once there is an answer to these vital questions, understanding both your competitors and potential clients becomes more manageable. It is crucial to easily identify what sets your business apart from the competition. This is a competitive advantage, and clearly communicating your business’s competitive advantage to potential customers is key. 

4. Determining The Best Marketing Channels To Utilize

The following stage in the business development strategy is to set your overall revenue targets for the year and then understand which channels will best assist you in meeting those goals. 

Common marketing channels such as networking, advertising, and referrals are often the most frequently used in terms of business development strategy.

Anyone in the business world understands how important networking is. Networking can be described as exchanging knowledge, ideas, and information with other individuals, typically in an informal or social setting. While face-to-face networking is still prevalent among some, the transition to networking through social media sites has made connection-making more accessible than ever. Thanks to platforms like LinkedIn, you can connect with people start a dialogue without an in-person meeting. This solid business development tactic comes with pros and cons; while it is less time-consuming and less expensive, relationships can sometimes be harder to establish and maintain. 


While traditional paid advertising has its advantages, digital advertising is slowly but surely becoming the clear front-runner in terms of successful business development tactics. Digital advertising can be tricky, but what is so nice about these steps for creating a unique business development strategy is that by the time your business is ready for updates in advertising, your target audience will have already been clearly defined. Knowing your target audience is vital in the world of advertising. If your targeted demographic is more active on social media services, that’s where the advertising budget should point towards. 

Referrals are always welcome, and they can be a great channel to use when implementing a business development strategy. An existing relationship with a customer that is positive has the possibility to create a multitude of potential clients. But it is vital to remember positive relationships with existing customers do not guarantee referrals. Referrals are great but not always the most consistent channel to utilize. 

There is a wide variety of marketing channels that businesses can utilize when implementing a reliable business development strategy plan, and sometimes choosing which ones to focus on can become overwhelming. Essential factors to consider when choosing which marketing channels to focus on include (but are not limited to) budget, time commitment, and available resources. While not all of these factors can make or break a business development strategy plan, the more informed you are, the better equipped you become when it comes to tough decision-making. 

In order to be best prepared for all circumstances, there is value in reevaluating the plans your business has for marketing on a consistent basis. 

5. Establishing Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Key performance indicators (often referred to as KPIs) are a successful business development strategy tool as you can easily use them to quantify performance. The number one thing to remember with key performance indicators is that they need to be practical and attainable for them to work accurately. Once these KPIs are established, you can find many different software programs that will aid you in the tracking and measuring process.  

Summarizing The Components of A Business Development Strategy Plan

When understanding the differences between a business plan and a business development plan, remember that a business plan is more broad and foundational. In contrast, a business development plan should act as a more detailed blueprint for the success of business growth. 

The 5 steps for creating unique business development processes are:

  • Defining Your Business’s Goals
  • Identifying The Target Audience Of Your Business
  • Performing Quality Market Research
  • Determining The Best Channels To Utilize
  • Establishing Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

A Great Business Development Strategy Plan Takes Time

The creation of a unique business development strategy can easily take your business to the next level. While the process can be seen as time-consuming for some, the benefits that can come from it are often unparalleled. Remember that you get what you give and that the more effort you put into developing a truly unique business development strategy plan, the higher the likelihood for success becomes.

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Business development plan: A step-by-step approach

by Lucia Piseddu | Jan 16, 2023

A good business development plan can set you up for success. Learn how to create your own from scratch with zero experience!

If you’re just   starting with business development , chances are that you’re a little confused about how you should do it. I got lost many times during my entrepreneurial journey. One of those moments was when I had to write a business development plan for the first time.

Now, the main problem was that I didn’t have a clue about what a business development plan was to start with. And of course, when I started digging, I got even more confused. I found a lot of information online, but nothing that would tell me how to do it step-by-step.

So after some years of trying and failing, I finally found my way to deal with it and build my own business development plan.

Below I’ll explain how to write a business development plan and what information you should include in practical terms. But first, let’s define what a business development plan is.

What is a business development plan?

A business development plan is a document that helps you implement your   business development strategy   in a step-by-step method. It involves a lot of research on the market and customers. But also, other aspects such as your competitors and buyer persona.

So, a business development plan is a detailed summary of important steps you’re going to take to grow your business. One key aspect to remember is that a business development plan is a LIVING document. This means that you have to update your plan continuously based on new information about your ecosystem.

This helps you strategize better but also ensures that it’s a document of quality insights.

A business development plan is divided into two main parts:

  • Research:   in the research phase, you learn more about your market, customers, and competitors.
  • Action:   you use your research and put it into action. Specifically, this translates into creating a value proposition, and content, and experimenting with ideas.

You can download our template for free at this link .

the business development school - the business development plan template

Step 1: Organize your business development plan

I’m a fan of organizing information in a structured, intuitive, and efficient way. Although it may sound basic, the first thing you should think about is to have a proper file you can consult on a daily basis.

It doesn’t have to contain every piece of information. Keep it simple by including only essential and key facts that will help you build an effective business development machine. Your business development plan needs to be easily accessible and quick to consult.

In this sense, you don’t need to get fancy and start looking for the latest software that promises you great time savings. Stick to something basic yet powerful. Google Sheets is your best ally when it comes to your business development plan.

So, the main goal of a business development plan is to keep information structured so that you can spot growth opportunities easier.

You can download our template for free at this link and start your business development plan.

Step 2: Market research

Market research   is a stepping stone in a business development plan. It’s an activity to gather more information about customers’ preferences and needs. Many companies overlook this step thinking that their intuition will guide them through their challenges. Intuition can be helpful, but it’s still essential to know your customers better using research and data.

After all, most ideas start off from intuition. However, basing an entire plan on assumptions is never a smart strategy to use in business development. So, do your homework and make sure you always take educated guesses before starting to work on your business development plan.

Market research takes into account   3 variables . These will tell you the realistic size of the market you’re trying to target.

1 – Total Addressable Market or Total Available Market (TAM)

The TAM takes into account the entire market you’re operating in and basically tells you how much annual revenue there is available for your product or service.

Now, finding this information can be the first bummer. To me at least, it sounded quite impossible to find out. Later, I figured that there are many people out there that dedicate their life only to market research.

You can use Google to find out this information. But of course, you first need to know what you’re looking for. The information you need, in this case, is basically knowing how many companies or people would benefit from your product or service.

You also want to know how many companies operate in your exact space both in terms of services and geography. To get relevant market news, try Googling “your industry market trends”, “your market report”, or “your industry report”.

Many big consultancy groups and governmental institutions dedicate a lot of time to this type of research. It’s a good and reliable starting point.

PRO TIP: Choose your sources very carefully. You’ll find a lot of random information, learn to filter out what you’re reading.

2 – Total Served Market  (TSM)

Once you know how big your market is, you need to check how much of it is already served by your competitors.

In this case, the information you’re looking for is all about your competition. You should ask yourself first how many of them you have.

Then you need to find out how well they’re doing and start hunting for as much intelligence as possible.

The info you need to look for is how many clients your competitors claim to have, what revenue they generate, and where they are present.

First, Google keywords to identify your competitors. Right after that, you can start digging deeper into their websites and find detailed info.

Bigger competitors will most likely have good press coverage. Read these articles to gather more insight.

Last, don’t overlook the importance of customer review websites. Customers can uncover many relevant details that your competitors don’t want to reveal. And of course, make use of technology to make the most out of your research.

3 – Serviceable Obtainable Market  (SOM)

The last step in your market research is to quantify how much you can realistically obtain with your business development effort.

Your SOM is your share in the market. So, to put it simply, it’s not possible to have an entire market buy only your products and services. There is a specific customer base that will buy from your company. So, your SOM refers to your market share and the people that can become your customers if they see a benefit from your products or services.

SOM takes into account your brand awareness, market insights, but also competition. It helps you forecast potential earnings and also gain customers. Based on the research, you become aware of what your competitors are offering to the market. Moreover, you will be able to tailor your products and services to meet the needs and preferences of your customers.

the business development school - business development plan market research

Step 3: Competitor analysis

The third step to do when creating your business development plan is to do a   competitor analysis . So far, I discussed market research and how it helps you get to know the preferences of your target audience better. But, to grow your business sustainably and profitably, it’s vital that you analyze your competitors as well.

First, figure out who your   direct and indirect competitors   are. So, in a Google search, we try to identify or find the ID of each company that competes in your market. This can be found in the website’s ‘About us’ section. Then, the aim is to find key personalities such as managers and executives, and so on.

Once you have this information, you can move on to products and services. You can find this on your competitor’s website as well. This specific section defines what the company specializes in. You can use this information to compare your products to those of your competitors and try to find ways to improve them.

Continue by checking their clients, and the pricing they offer for their products and services.

PRO TIP: Read the customer reviews of your competitors to spot their strengths and weaknesses. Use the insights to improve your offer.

the business development school - business development plan competitor research

Step 4: Customer research

After identifying your market share, you can start thinking of what kind of customers within this segment, you are trying to sell your products and services to.

The best way to tackle this is by running proper   customer research   that will provide you with your Ideal Customer Profile and Buyer Persona.

This is the part I like the most because it really helps you understand who you’re talking to. But how do you do it? First, if you already have some customers, start analyzing them. You want to gather more information on who they are, what they do, and their habitual traits.

For example:

  • What job titles do these people have?
  • How old are they?
  • What communication tools do they use?
  • Where do they hang out?
  • What are their personalities like?
  • What are their challenges?
  • What do they do in their daily lives?

You can find all this info by simply checking social media profiles. Really, just by observing their social media platforms, you can get to know them in-depth! Take some time to check a few ones (at least 10) and you’re going to start seeing patterns.

Then, check some job descriptions about the people you’re targeting. This will highlight what are their professional responsibilities and how your product or service can help them. Last, it’s always advisable to run a survey.

Step 5: Build your Buyer Persona

Right after having run your customer research, you can now create your buyer persona.

The buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customers based on data and research,

In your buyer persona, you need to include all the relevant information you found through your customer research. It should look like something below:

the business development school - buyer persona template

Step 6: Value Propositions

The customer research concludes the research part of your business development plan. Now it’s time to put your insights into action and start building your   business development strategy .

The first valuable asset you need to build is a   value proposition.

A value proposition is the value your customers get should they choose to buy your products and services

The value proposition helps you communicate your value as a company and you can use it on your website, sales calls, social media posts, etc. Having a clear value proposition will help you attract the right audience and persuade potential customers to work with you.

Of course, a good value proposition is based on that, and if you followed all the steps, you should have all the insights you need.

To build a value proposition we will use the Job-To-Be-Done framework. This helps you identify what are the responsibilities of your buyer persona when they’re doing their job.

For example, a typical responsibility for a recruiter is to   find the right talent .

the business development school - job-to-be-done framework

Second, consider the pains and gains of your customers. Customers’ emotions are usually the reason behind their buying decisions. They influence their preferences, frequency of buying, and also which companies they buy from.

Especially the challenges are a crucial element in your value proposition because you can immediately link your solution to a concrete pain that your customers are facing.

For example, let’s go back to the example of the recruiter. We know that one main responsibility of a recruiter is to find talent. One major challenge for recruiters is to have enough time to process all the CVs they receive daily.

Now, let’s assume you work for a company that provides recruitment software that can automate CV screening.

A good value proposition, in this case, would sound like this:

Save 70% of your CV screening time using our recruitment software

the business development school - value proposition design template

Step 7: Content plan

Once you have your value proposition, the next step is to share it with your target audience. That’s when having a content plan becomes a must.

A content plan helps you strategize the type of information you want to feed your audience. It also helps you select the channels on which you should build your presence.

For content to be effective, you need to have a clear idea of your target audience when you write posts/emails, or articles. So, always consult your buyer persona before creating content.

Just like the value propositions, effective content revolves around the pain point you identified earlier. Use them to get the attention of your audience and provide valuable information that helps them alleviate these pains.

This will help you establish yourself as a valuable resource and when they will want to solve their issues, you’ll be the first to pop into their minds.

Step 8: Experiments

The last step in your business development plan is all about creativity and finding opportunities. This is the moment in which we create experiments to validate some of our business assumptions. Your experiment should be ideas that you think will bring sustainable growth to your company.

Once you identify some ideas, define some goals and set up the methodology you will follow to run this experiment. For example, if you heard of a new social media and you think your audience might be on it, build an experiment to validate if this is true and if it can bring you results.

Attach a goal to this idea, for example, generating 10 qualified leads on this new channel.

Then decide for how long you will run the experiment – ideally a couple of weeks. Once the experiment is over analyze what happened. If the experiment was successful, you need to scale this activity. If not, take the learnings for further improvements.

The business development plan is a key document that helps you map your ecosystem and strategize your business development efforts.

It consists of a research part and an action part. In the first part, you analyze your market, competitors, and customers. In the second, you use your insights to build value propositions, content plans, and experiments.

The business development plan is a live document, so you have to update it every time you have new insights. Of course, you have to use it in your daily operations to make sure you’re on the right track.

The business development plan is one of the assets you will build during our training. Would you like to shake up your business development career and work in a more structured way? Then   join our next cohort .

If you are a startup founder check out the   startup program , specifically designed to help you take your business from good to great.

Last, if you are a company wanting to train your business development team, our   custom training solutions   are the best way to take your team to the next level.

business development strategy document

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