People do business with people they know, like, and trust.
Small business isn’t complicated – provide a product or service that solves a problem people are willing to pay for.
It is that simple, but the reality is 80% of small businesses do not make it to their one year anniversary.
Why? Negative cash flow resulting from being underfunded or a lack of sales.
Business development is one of the most important, yet difficult elements of small business. It is the mechanism to acquire new customers and generate sufficient cash flow to sustain a business. It takes enormous effort and grit to identify your target audience and cultivate relationships that yield paying clients.
Complicating things further, the business development flywheel turns at a painstakingly slow pace during the launch phase for most small businesses.
To speed up the acquisition of new clients, small business owners are lured by too good to be true sales and marketing programs, tactics, or consultants that have tendencies to over promise and under deliver.
Based on my experience, business development strategies are either too complicated to be actionable, or they are nonexistent.
I created the Know Like Trust Playbook to help small business owners put together a business development strategy that is simple and capable of producing powerful results when well executed.
If people aren’t aware of you or you brand, they can’t do business with you. When I use the term people, I am referring to your target audience.
For people to know you, you have to invest in knowing them first. Identifying and studying your target audience will help you understand their needs and the best ways to communicate with them.
Armed with this knowledge, you will know how to increase your visibility in places where your target audience tends to be.
Your communication strategies should be authentic and unique. Your messaging should highlight that you know the challenges people are facing and communicate how you will solve that problem for them.
At the beginning stages of a building a new relationship, providing value with no expectation of return is one of the best ways to build trust. This could be in the form of white papers, webinars, videos, blog posts, free consultations, workshops, etc. Regardless of the delivery mechanism, the objective is to begin building trust in your ability to solve problems. The Go-Giver is a great book on this subject.
Keep the focus off of yourself. Nobody cares about how “great” you are or your accomplishments. They just want to know if you have the credibility and capability to solve their problems.
Be authentic. Never try to be someone you are not to win a client. The truth about who you are will be revealed eventually.
Start the relationship by being you.
If they like you, great!
If they don’t like you, great!
“People will listen to you if they like you, but if they trust you they’ll do business with you.” – Zig Ziglar
People who like you will let you know they like you. They will be open to a conversation, subscribe to your email list, follow you on social media, ask you for advice, comment on your content, and take other steps to further the relationship.
Your objective is to continue providing value to them. This may be in the form of free resources as mentioned in the Know stage or it may move to paid engagements. Either way, the focus is to deliver a high level of value.
Trust is the result of constantly delivering value over time with integrity.
There are no shortcuts to building trust with another person.
It takes time and effort to nurture a relationship from the Know stage to the Trust stage.
When a relationship has reached the Trust stage, don’t make the mistake of taking it for granted. You must continue to add value and find ways to delight.
There will always be competitors working to chip away at the relationship to gain a new client for themselves. You can keep them at bay by continually investing in the relationship and adding value.
Relationships require work, especially those that have been around for a while.
Put the Know Like Trust Playbook to Work for Your Small Business
The Know Like Trust Playbook will help you simplify the business development strategy for your small business.
The ideas are free. The execution will cost you time, effort, and energy.
Here are three action steps to implement the Know Like Trust Playbook:
1. Reflect on how you and your business are doing in the Know Like Trust relationship stages. Consider both macro (overall business) and micro (key prospects and clients) relationships. Don’t worry about trying to make adjustments right now. Focus on creating an accurate assessment of where things currently stand.
2. One or two days after step one, revisit your initial assessment. Create a mind map of areas of improvement for each relationship stage. At this point, don’t get too deep in the weeds. Stay at a high level and record all of your ideas. No idea is a bad idea at this point.
3. Assess the mind maps for each relationship stage. Identify the one thing you can focus on in each stage that will have the largest ROI. Create a plan, commit, and execute. Once you have completed the one thing, repeat the process by honing in on the next most important thing. Continue to iterate and refine. Be careful not to focus on too many things at one time. If you focus on one element from each stage, that’s three things you are trying to change at the same time, which is a full load.
Business development doesn’t haven’t to be complicated, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy either. It’s difficult no matter how you go about it. Ultimately it’s all about serving people with value-driven solutions they are willing to pay for.
If you can figure out how to do this in a way that aligns with your passion and natural gifting, you are way ahead of the vast majority of small business owners.
Let me know if you have any questions or comments on the Know Like Trust Playbook approach to business development for small business.