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  • Writer's pictureYaakov Citron

Achieving Success - A Business Development Consultant’s Guide To A Thriving Enterprise

I am extremely lucky to have with me a well-known business development consultant. He has been involved in various business start-ups in the field of technology, biotechnology, and real estate.

He is here to tell us more about his experiences with start-up or early-stage companies. With a well-established career in the field of sales, marketing and finance, he has provided extensive assistance to help his clients achieve their goal of creating a successful business enterprise.

Let’s get started and find out more about Larry Deverett, an expert in the field of business development and marketing.

What do you do?

I am a business development consultant. Generally, I help start-up companies or early-stage companies to develop their market, which is a combination of sales, marketing, strategy, and tactics to find more customers. In a nutshell, business development is finding more customers and bringing more business to the table.

How did your career start?

I started my career when IBM introduced the personal computer (PC). I had a sales job in the marketing department of IBM. We were professional salespeople. At that time, IBM salesmen were the cream of the cream. We went through eight to 10 months of extensive sales training.

I started my career when IBM introduced the personal computer (PC). I had a sales job in the marketing department of IBM. We were professional salespeople. At that time, IBM salesmen were the cream of the cream. We went through eight to 10 months of extensive sales training.

Tell us more about marketing and sales.

In Israel, there are a lot of early-stage companies that are half set up. They have the concept, product, or services – but they need to develop further. They need marketing – saying the right words, having your home base, and setting up in a way that would attract people.

Marketing and sales are two terms that people usually use interchangeably. Marketing is the support system that supports sales. It is the back end of the sales cycle. Marketing influences the customer.

The salesman of yesteryear is not really what we have today, mainly because social media has changed the whole process of sales. Not too many people pick up the phone and make a call anymore. There are ways to get leads, like emails and Instagram campaigns, to name a few. These get responded to by social media, and once a client is developed, people will get together face-to-face.

What are the most common mistakes you see business people making?

The biggest mistake today is bad management. There are a lot of entrepreneurs who run early-stage innovative companies who are good at what they do. They excel in certain aspects, but they are not good at management. To excel in management, they have to know and understand what motivates a person.

Unless you are a one-man company, getting into a service business needs employees and staff. You need to delegate tasks. You must be able to praise, reward, give, and sometimes rebuke these people.

As a business consultant, what is the status of the business that you usually come into?

Most of the early-stage businesses that I am involved in are under-capitalized. They are always chasing money, have fewer resources, and don’t have enough staff because they are growing too fast.

I look at this problem as an opportunity. This is something that I can solve. I ask these questions: how do I solve it and how fast can I solve it? How much money is it going to cost me?

What are management skills and how do you go about them?

Management is a very interesting and difficult skill and it just doesn’t come naturally for most people. A lot of entrepreneurs face the challenge of not being good at managing people. That is why you have to learn about it by taking courses and understanding what the skills are.

The most important management skill is how you handle people. Your staff has emotions. They have personalities, they need to be trained and to be directed. You have to take care of your team. People are much more productive if you motivate, manage, praise, and reward them the right way.

As a manager, you also need to handle your inventories – your equipment. Make sure that they are working and are properly maintained. You should also be good at managing the cash flow of the business.

How do you get the right clients?

In the service business, referrals by word of mouth are the best marketing tool. If you do a good job, your client would tell their friends about it. Referrals through your website are also effective. A customer may give video referrals through satisfied customer testimonials. Your prospective clients can do some Google searches and may see some reviews about you. You have to be careful about bad reviews from customers.

A lot of companies give rewards to people who refer them. They may be in the form of discounts on the next visits or material freebies such as t-shirts or caps.

What are the steps that you take when you start your job with a client?

I need to know their objectives, what they want to do with their product or service, and what they want to project as their image.

I need to assess what is going on with their business, so I ask for their business plan if they have one. The business plan I am talking about is just a summary of what they want to accomplish, and their strategies. Without a plan, they are not going anywhere. The more you plan, the less stress you have, and the more you know where you are going.

How would you know that you are giving the right service to your clients?

When you are in sales or business development, you must think like the client. Even though your objective is to sell your services, you should start by thinking about what he needs, not what you want to sell him. Your client comes to you because he needs to attract more customers.

As a business professional, although you follow what your client wants, you know what he needs. There are times when you need to suggest ideas to steer them in the right direction to give them the right service. It is your responsibility to inform them that there is a better way to do things.

You have to make sure that your client is happy with your service because he achieves his goal of getting more customers.

How do you go about terminating a relationship with a client?

To fire clients, you have to do it diplomatically, because you also have your business reputation to uphold. Tell your client that you prefer to move on because it is challenging on your part. Blame it on yourself if you can. The more you blame it on yourself, the easier you can get out of the situation.

Were you ever in a position where you had a client that was costing you more money than you were actually earning from them?

Yes, I have. Some clients are not worth it. They create a contract with you, and they have expectations that you cannot satisfy. Especially in the case of bigger clients, they usually have more decision-makers with different personalities.

What is the importance of creating a business plan?

There are categories in a business plan – marketing and sales, inventory or production, and financial plans. There are different parts to it, but its main purpose is to make sure that everything is in place when it is time to move forward.

It goes without saying that if you don’t have a plan, you are not going anywhere. But if you have a plan, and though there may be obstacles and challenges that come up, you know at least where you are headed.

Share your thoughts about customer service.

A lot of businesses have forgotten that they are in business to service the customers and to give them a good experience.

Treat the customer well and they will treat you better. There may be challenging customers – they get abusive and obnoxious, and they treat you badly. For example.n third-party merchandising, sometimes you play the role of a “punching bag” between the customer and the suppliers or sales representatives. You take all these bad treatments, and for me, that is fine as long as they pay me a fair fee. They are hiring me to solve the problems and to take the blame for the problem. This is an extreme form of customer service.

What are some instances when you should not allow yourself to be a “punching bag”?

Sometimes legitimate customers may lose their temper and may get out of control. In that case, you have to draw a line on what is acceptable or not. You should not have business with a vulgar customer, who has a bad moral code, or someone who is lying or stealing. These are not acceptable.

What would you suggest for a service-based business that is completely flooded with work, but is not making enough earnings?

The objective of business is to serve customers, and if you are doing a great job, customers are most likely to stand outside your door waiting to get in. The solution is to expand unless you have decided to stay as you are. If you are an entrepreneur and you have the opportunity to expand your business, then you have to go for it.

The job of a good manager is to replace himself. There are always special and talented people out there who can do the job even better. Therefore, he should find the right people, develop them, and expand his business. However, in some cases, clients may only want the manager to do the job for them. In this instance, clients should be convinced that other equally talented and skilled people can carry on with the task aside from the manager.

Some do not want to work with anybody else because they think that they are the brand. If this is the case, once they retire, their business is going to end.

How do you implement your pricing strategy?

As a service business provider, you know your brand and you are known for quality work. As you build your reputation, you can actually up your price. If you are starting then you need to be priced fairly.

In your pricing strategy, there is what we call overcharging and undercharging. Both are dangerous to your business.

With overcharging, your customers think that you have a better experience, better tools, and better service, hence the high fees.

To gain more clients, you think of charging a lesser price for your service. By undercharging, your customers may not want to get your services because they think there must be something wrong with your service unless you can convince them that they are getting the same quality of service at a lower price.

How would you raise the profile of the service you are offering?

Customers should understand that getting the wrong person to do business with or going for a lower value proposition might not get what they want and it’s going to cost them more.

You should make your prospect understand that hiring you would bring them higher returns than the difference in price that you are charging them. It is not easy to self-proclaim and make them believe you. You have to prove your worth, and that’s where referrals are essential. Customers who vouch for you – great experience, great quality, great product, great service.

Some businesses charge a lot but customers are willing to pay the high price because of perceived value. If you give your customers a better version of what they need from you, then you can charge more. So the more people recognize the quality of your work, the value of your work goes up.

Word of mouth, referrals, and awards – are some of the things that make you more credible and raise the profile of the service you are offering.

What can you say about your business and being passionate about it?

For me, the primary value of a business is to be able to earn a living for your family and the stakeholders in your business. But if you have a business that you are passionate about, that can change the world and some people’s lives, that is even better.

Your business is much more meaningful if you have the passion. If you feel the balance where you can go to work, make a decent living, enjoy what you are doing, and feel that you are changing people’s lives for the better, then it is a nice career to have. If you can get to the point when your hobby becomes your business and you don’t even care about the money you earn, that is great.

My name is Larry Deverett, and I am a BizDev consultant. I am here to help your business succeed by achieving its goals and objectives.

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