What Does Business Development Mean to an IT Reseller?

Who should read this article?

This article has been produced for anyone who has a stake in an IT Reseller and wants to ensure that their stake becomes a great investment. 

Overview

This article will discuss what Business Development (BD) actually means to you and why it is vital to the successful growth and the long term value of your business.

I worked for ten years on the board of an IT Reseller and know how easy it is to loose site of your GOALS. Can you remember the VISION you had at the start? It is often the case that the day to day problems that arise take over and your role becomes one of a firefighter going from one month to the next, making sure you meet your costs, sorting out all the problems that arise along the way. The longer this goes on, the more of a distant memory your VISION becomes. 

The purpose of this article is to re-energise your thoughts around BD. Surely the main reason you have a stake in a company is for that stake to be worth something in the future. But for that stake to be worth something you need to think about BD. Remember HOPE is not a strategy!

I hope this article stimulates some ideas and enables you to re-focus and give some time on a regular basis to BD.  

Where are you now?

It is important to establish where you are now in the development of your business. Analyze your strengths and weaknesses and look at the environment around you. Who do you compete with, what markets do you engage with and what solutions are in demand. If you have not experienced much growth over a number of years do you know why? Is there something missing which would help you to achieve consistent growth? What is your company best at? 

Goals

The starting point of any BD plan is to establish what your long term goals are. Goals need to be measurable, so good variables to use are revenue, gross or net profit. Goals also need to be achievable in the time frames allocated. Example goal, IT Reseller A has decided that they want to grow their revenue from £3m per year, to £10m per year in five years and sell the company for £5m. This provides a starting point which can be broken down into yearly goals.  

Create a Vision – Create a Strategic BD Plan

To achieve a goal you need a vision. You need to imagine how the company will look in five years time and how you will achieve the growth. For a vision to succeed you need to find growth opportunities. You may be able to find a number of opportunities, but you need to know which ones you should focus on. A growth opportunity needs to tick all the boxes before it is included in the plan. These boxes include: ability to technically delver the product or solution, demand in the market place, profitable and the ability to scale upwards to meet forecasted demand. We include some tips below to help to create your vision.

Interview clients, key staff and key channel contacts.
Discuss with the senior management team and agree a way forward.
Create a high level BD Plan which describes the areas you want your business to grow into, including solutions, target markets, routes to market, operational and expansion procedures.
Communicate this plan to staff, partners and key channel contacts.  

Each growth opportunity which is signed off forms part of the BD Plan. The success of these campaigns will determine how and when you achieve your goals.  

Plan thoroughly & ensure buy in

For BD to work it is vital that it is planned and managed effectively. The plan should outline the vision with detail on each campaign and their individual goals, which can be measured. A BD Plan will only succeed if all members of the board buy into it. The plan is doomed unless the board, as a unit, are totally behind it and keen for it to succeed. The plan should include interim targets at yearly intervals to ensure that the business is on course for its five year goal. It is vital that the plan is discussed in depth at monthly board meetings to ensure it is kept on track and amended. 

Involve all business functions in the implementation

Some businesses leave BD purely to the sales department. They think that business growth is purely a sales function and they offer good commission schemes for short term profit results. The BD Plan should involve all functions of the business. You should start with Technical to make sure that they agree the validity of each campaign. Can they provide the technical skills and scale to meet demand? Then discuss with marketing. Can they create the collateral and branding required and generate the quality of leads? Then discuss with Sales can they generate the required results from the campaign? If all agree the campaign is likely to have some merit. As it is implemented it is vital that all departments work closely together on the campaign. All should have access to software which enables them to input data and view results as they are achieved. The entire company needs to be kept up to date regularly with details of the success of each campaign via BD update sessions and or internal web site.   

Business Development Techniques

BD covers a very broad area and can include a wide range of techniques, including direct and indirect.   Direct Model – The direct model uses your own resources. Target SUSPECTS (identified target market) directly with a coordinated approach involving all key departments in the company. This process is centrally managed and involves all departments within the company. A universally used customer management system is hugely beneficial. We discuss Direct BD techniques in more detail here:  

The indirect Model involves the creation of partnership with organisations who can sell your solutions. Many larger resellers take on all the elements of a project. This is likely to include areas that they have to outsource. If this is the case make sure they outsource to you. One of the best ways to find partners like these is to raise your profile with your channel contacts so they recommend you. From experience this process is more successful if you target partners in vertical markets where you have a strong story to tell. However this model can be very complex and will be the subject of a future article in its own right.    

Manage the Process

It is vital that each company has someone performing the role of Business Development Manager. It is their job to ensure that the strategy is valid and agreed by all, planned and implemented effectively, enhanced and developed and results are passed down to all members of the company.

Conclusion

BD is about understanding that all the company needs to work together to grow a business. To grow a company you need a goal and you need a realistic vision. You need to manage the process to achieve the goals and you need to plan meticulously. The plan needs to be kept alive and discussed at monthly board meetings with results communicated down to all members of staff. All resellers who want their business to have a future value require a BD function.  

Vitalize Consultancy provide IT resellers with Sales and Marketing support to grow their business. Vitalize work on site and remotely to develop strategies and implement campaigns to help IT Resellers to benefit from new techniques and keep at the forefront of their market.

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