Building Back Your Business Development Muscle

Today let’s talk Business Development (BD).

BD takes time; not easy for a recruiter to appreciate, especially when it hasn’t been front of mind in the last few years.

Recruiters can be quite impatient; be honest now; hold your hands up. I’m sure that many of you can relate to that.

Here is the thing.

When it comes to BD, people forget that inputs don’t always result in outputs as fast as we want, even though we try to convince ourselves that they will.

The Impact Of The Last Few Years on BD

Let’s put some context around this and what’s happened over the past few years when it comes
to BD in the recruitment and search space.

Let me take you back in the day to 2019. Everything was pretty normal before COVID arrived, and BD was something that people did as required, though not necessarily enthusiastically!

When things were not going as well as people wanted, and there weren’t enough jobs on the board, some BD would happen.

This is particularly for micro businesses and smaller SMEs. Some of the bigger organizations have a BD system dialled in; I will talk to you about a system you can put in for you as well.

When we look back in 2019, people did some BD, but it wasn’t anything they did with any great gusto, with any systems in place, and then COVID-19 appeared.

Then suddenly, everyone had this experience of all those really good clients they had stopped working with.

Candidates were being furloughed and being made redundant and laid off. All of those things were happening. I think it just brought BD up to a level of focus for people.

However, what happened then was that the market started to shift.

As we all know, as we moved toward the end of 2020, people discovered video interviewing, and companies started recruiting. There were talent shortages, and many recruiters didn’t need to do a lot of BD.

People were coming to them because there’d been a pause in recruitment and a backlog of vacancies.

Consequently, Recruiters didn’t have to do much BD.

Of course, because they didn’t have to do it, they didn’t do it!!

Then suddenly, we move into a much tougher time for some people in 2023. Some businesses had over-hired and were shedding staff, laying people off, and making redundancies, and for other people, that assumption that the movement in hiring was going to continue didn’t.

People suddenly thought, “OH, Crickey, I need to start being focused on BD again.”

The thing is, people forget that BD takes time to build and fill a pipeline. Depending on the sector that you’re in, this process can take anywhere from 60 to 180 days or even longer.

Therefore, you must create a system that you implement consistently around it.

Going back to making half a dozen calls here, maybe half a dozen calls next week, and then stopping isn’t going to work for you.

Several famous sayings remind us to do the work.

Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Do you remember Colonel Sanders? He didn’t get good at what he was doing until he was in his 60s, and we all know about sowing and reaping, but the trouble is we forget that this is how life is and that it does take time to build momentum in anything.

Please do not throw Teddy out of the cot if things don’t work immediately. Instead, keep doing the work.

Build A Two-Part System

Instead, create a system and expect it to work for you because it will if you give it the time and the energy!

One of the most predictable methodologies you can use to succeed in your business is to create a BD system.

It works like clockwork as long as you work it.

Now, it does take time to build.

You’re going to get results as you build your system consistently.

Remember, initially, this is a volume game until you build momentum.

Getting four or five appointments might take a hundred calls, but you accept that is how it is. It improves over time because, obviously, your skills get better.

Remember that this is what you must consider when thinking about BD.

I won’t get into too many tactical things regarding BD here. I’d like to give you an overview of the system you must implement.

You need two types of systems, and people forget the first one, which is your current connections.

The second one is your cold outreach. If any company wants to grow, it must keep filling its pipeline with new people because people drop in, drop off, and drop out.

Mine Your Current Connections

The first one is your current connections. I imagine most people listening to this have a database of candidates and clients, which should be your first port of call.

You’ve already worked hard to connect with those people. Don’t assume that “Oh, they won’t be interested.” Don’t let that crazy brain of yours, that primitive brain, kick in and say, “Oh no, no, no, they won’t be interested.”

You just might be surprised because things change fast.

As a quick and easy start, ensure you are reaching out to all your tier-one connections.

Some people have 10,000 or 15,000 connections on LinkedIn. Are all of them relevant? Maybe not, but I suspect a remarkably high percentage are.

Reach out to those people; that is one area to start with your BD.

You’ve got a database because most people do not mine the gold around their feet because they get lazy and think people won’t be interested.

The other thing you can do with people like that, of course, is ask for referrals.

You can talk to the candidates that you place. Maybe they know somebody. Maybe they’re working in a new organization.

Ask for referrals. Make it a more active process because the challenge with referrals is making them predictable.

Referrals are great, aren’t they? I always like to say that they are the jam on the bread.

However, if you leave them to chance, you don’t know when they’re going to appear, and you cannot rely on referrals unless you take a more active stance in asking for them with people that you’re working with.

If you do that consistently, you will be able to plot the data, and you can see how that works for you. We’ve talked about current connections. That needs to be in your BD system.

Remember, I’m talking about multiple points of contact here. I’m not just talking about emails.

Emails are great. They’re brilliant for creating demand. They are a must-do marketing activity for anybody.

Remember: At the end of the day, picking up the phone and speaking to somebody will make a massive difference to your results.

Remember, this is not a transactional sale we’re involved in here. This is an expensive item. This is a person. This is a human being. This is a team. This is a chief operating officer being placed somewhere. Think about the conversation you will have with people, people you know, and people on your database.

Remember, don’t just rely on email. Help your email work by picking up the phone and speaking to people. The next thing is cold outreach.

Create New Connections

You have to fill the pond continually. If you are not reaching out to new connections, you will never grow because you will always lose people, whether you like it or not. You cannot hold on to everybody forever.

Plenty of places exist to reach out and find people’s contact details.

There are multiple connection scraping tools out there you can use. I won’t name any because, to be quite honest, they come and go. I think Apollo is one at the moment, but who knows? is another popular tool, but you only need to go online. Google contact scraping tools, and you will be able to find various tools that will go and get you names, email addresses, and telephone numbers of people you want to reach out and connect with.

A BD tool that is especially useful on LinkedIn is Sales Navigator. You can pull lists of ideal people in your market that you want to reach out to. This is something that you should be doing daily.

You’re continually building a pond to fish into. Don’t just do it when you think, “Oh, gosh, I’ve not got enough business.” Do it now. Make sure that you do this as a regular thing.

You can even go on to some of the freelancer sites and find some real ninjas who will go and create a list for you that you can then work on. Then it is all about consistency and it’s about daily activities.

What are you going to do daily?

How many people will you reach out to in your current database daily?

It doesn’t take as long as you think.

Then, how many people are you going to reach out to on LinkedIn? How many messages are you going to send out? How many phone calls are you going to make?

Map it out daily; do it consistently.

Let’s just start with this quarter. Obviously, I know we’re halfway through a quarter, but just do it for 90 days. Measure your activities and look at the difference that will make for you.

Most people just do not build the volume; They give up. They just make 20 calls and 15 calls, but they don’t consistently do this daily because momentum starts to build.

Then, once momentum starts to build, you will see results.

This is about building that muscle back up. Start somewhere.




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