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Tracking the Success of Your Business Development Plan

No good plan comes without a way to track success. By creating your own personalized matrix tracking system, you can ensure that you are optimizing your personal business development strategy.

Mastering the Art of Business Development Blog Series
Article 11: Tracking the Success of Your Business Development Plan

We’ve spent the last few months developing our Personal Business Development Plans, and by this point, you should have a clear mission, goals and a well-defined action plan. The seventh, and final step involves setting up a mechanism to track your progress. Why is this necessary? You might have an incredible plan, but you need a way to determine whether it is working, and how well it is working. Many people need to make adjustments along the way, but how will you decide what those adjustments should be? Step Seven is designed to address these issues by helping you create an easy-to-use and effective tracking system.

What are you tracking?

Before setting up your system, you need to define what it is that you are trying to track. There are many different aspects of your business development strategy that you can and should track, the specifics of which are unique in each case. Common things you might want to consider tracking include number of new contacts, number of new clients, number of returning clients, amount of income, number of publications, etc. If you need help figuring out what to track, start by looking at each of your action items as well as your overall goals and identify what would qualify as success in each case.

The Business Development Funnel

As I mentioned above, one of the most common things that people need to track in business development is your contacts and whether and how those contacts translate into revenue. In order to show you how to do this, I first need to define a key concept: the business development funnel. Many of you are probably familiar with the term “sales funnel”, which is a list of the steps that a salesperson takes from lead generation all the way down to a conversion or sale. The funnel is a tool you can use in order to determine how many leads you would need to generate in order to end up with a certain amount of sales, on average. For example, a salesperson might email 100 leads, out of which 50 will respond. Out of those 50, 25 will be interested in setting up a demo, and out of those 25, 10 will move forward with a free trial of the product. Perhaps 5 of the leads that use the free trial decide to sign up as paying clients. In this way, the salesperson can determine how many leads he or she must contact in order to get X number of paying customers, as well as determine the monetary value of a lead at each stage in the funnel.

The sales funnel is pretty straightforward, and therefore, salespeople are great at using it. Professionals who are trying to do business development, on the other hand, do not use funnels as frequently. Yet, it is an integral part of creating an action plan that can be tracked and adjusted for maximum success.

A classic example of a business development funnel looks something like this: Alex knows 1,000 people. Out of those 1,000 people, he is in touch with about 250, 100 of which he maintains a meaningful relationship with. Out of those 100, 50 attend one of Alex’s events each year. 20 of them end up being clients, and in addition, 10 more of them become referral sources which then leads to another 10 clients.

Here is another example that is slightly more complex. Let’s revisit Jackie again. While bringing clients into the firm is obviously great, her main long term goal as you will recall is to pivot into an in-house counsel position at a tech start-up company. In order to do that, she needs to make connections in the tech industry so that when she is ready to make the move, she has people to turn to who can connect her with job opportunities. Here, the funnel is not necessarily linear, but might look something like this: Jackie joins the Bar Association’s Tech Division and goes to 2 networking events each month. At each event, she talks to 10 people, and follows up with 8 of them. Of the 8, she sets up a coffee or lunch meeting with 5, and forms a close relationship with 1 of the 5 over time. This would mean that Jackie meets 2 people per month with whom she forms a close relationship over time who work in the tech industry. After one year, Jackie has 24 meaningful business contacts, approximately 10 of whom work at companies that Jackie would like to work at, and 5 of whom are at companies that are currently hiring.

How Do You Track These Things?

The tracking system I like best is a matrix in which you can follow your goals and/or action items over a period of time, and compare performance from month to month, and year to year.  You can use a program like Excel or Google Sheets for this purpose. There are also many professional tools out there to help with tracking, such as CRM systems like Salesforce.

How you set up your matrix will depend on what your specific goals and action items are, meaning that your matrix is unique and should be customized according to your personal business development plan. The matrix will appear different depending on what it is that you are trying to track. If you are tracking a business development funnel, each step of the funnel should appear in the tracking matrix:

Contact Follow-up Meeting Continue Followup Becomes Client
Mickey Mouse X X X X
Donald Duck X X X
Cinderella X X
Barack Obama X
Warren Buffett

You might also track something like finances: For example, if one of your goals was to increase your revenues by X% over the course of a year, each month you can actually see what the percentage of increase is. You might need to engage an accountant to help you track your finances, or you can use an accounting software with reporting tools.

This wraps up our series on creating your Personal Business Development Plan. You now have the tools you need in order to build your own. But your efforts shouldn’t stop there, as there are many other tricks and tools that you can use in order to optimize performance of your personal plan.  Next time, we will take a closer look at how other accountability systems can help you succeed in your business development efforts.

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