Having a business development plan is essential to thrive in the current competitive marketplace. This is because, at present, it’s become very much infused in many sales and marketing functions.

To get started, it’s necessary that you take stock of your past performance before developing your road map. Since creating one is no mean feat, we’re prepared to illuminate your path.

Here’s our blueprint on how to come up with your own business development plan.

What is a business development plan?

A business development plan is fundamentally a document that contains the framework on how you’ll implement your business development strategy.

Business Development Plan
Do you need a business plan?

Having revealed this, it’s important that we demystify the two ideas. A business development strategy contains the concept behind the development of a business. On the other hand, a business development plan deals with all the nuts and bolts to make progress feasible.

Why a business development plan is important

When starting a business, it’s easy to get lost in all the excitement. If you’re not careful, you may find yourself stagnating.

To enhance your odds of success, it’s necessary to get all the details right from the word go. While a business development plan doesn’t necessarily guarantee you success, you will definitely have a clear vision on how to sidestep possible danger routes.

Having a crystal ball sounds great, right?

1. Learn to prioritize

If you’re looking to play the long game, then you need a business development strategy plan. With one in place, it becomes easier for you to achieve your objectives. With a sense of directions and a well-mapped out strategy, you can focus your energies on what’s needful.

Once you have one, it’s a great idea to review and update it on the regular so that you can:

  • Remind yourself of your key objectives and where your priorities lie
  • Adapt to changes in the business scene
  • Assess whether you’re making headway using your strategies
  • Leverage new opportunities that you encounter

2. Control the narrative

With a business plan in place, you can take a recliner and review what’s working and check out avenues to improve.

You need to pull all the stops to get a plan on how to chart your path. You can start off with simple things like encouraging your staff to share feedback can go a long way. While the process may seem time-consuming and overwhelming at first, you’re sure to reap dividends in the long run.

By planning, you’ll be able to realize the various forces that affect your success. If you’re already doing business, you’ll be able to take inventory and figure out what’s working. Objectively, you want to have more control over your business and your livelihood. By researching, you’ll also have a great opportunity to:

  • Comprehend your business finances like cash-flow management and figuring out the break-even point
  • Learn more about your industry, market, and the competition
  • Review challenges you may encounter and analyze how to beat them
  • Make sound business decisions that will give you a competitive advantage

7 essential elements of a business development plan

1. Set your sails

Having a clear vision of where you see the business in the next 12 months is central to achieving your objectives.

This is because an outline of the key 3-5 achievements you believe will set you apart helps you anticipate and prepare for success. Once you have that figured out, you can handle the granular aspects of the process later on.

To ensure that you remain focused, it’s necessary that these audacious goals include revenue goals. While at it, you need to also strive to strike a balance in your operations. There’s no need to only meet a couple of your objectives and total miss out on others is there?

If you’re unsure about what else to include in your grand plan, here’s a quick overview of the key points:

Customer retention

While generating new sales is fantastic news to any businessperson, it’s important to ensure you don’t lose existing customers. On the road to better customer retention, you’re bound to discover that the key lies in providing stellar customer service.

If you’re not sure customer retention matters, here’s a stat that will wow you. On average, it takes about 5 times more to land a new customer than it does to keep the ones you already have.

Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)

This refers to the net revenue you can expect to get from a customer during the course of your business relationship.

If you’re a new business that’s dependent on a select number of customers, you need to diversify. Failure to do this could see you at a crossroads one or two of them decide to jump ship.

To boost your chances, you need to lower your average CLV by diversifying your revenue base. Of course, this is dependent on the quality of your reach. If you have too many low-revenue customers, then it’s best to first focus on increasing your mean CLV. 

2. Center your approach

Defining your target marketing and setting up detailed buyer profiles is a key ingredient for success. Here’s a quick look at how this can work to your benefit:

A focused business development plan gives you the opportunity to qualify and score prospects to prioritize your constrained sales and marketing resources.

A well-defined target market and buyer profiles give you the legroom to come up with content that boosts your bottom line

With a targeted strategy, it’s easier for you to come up with products and services for your target market

As you work towards developing your business development plan, it wouldn’t hurt to revise previously defined buyer personas. It’s also great counsel to re-access your target market.

After you do this, you can start working towards tweaking your messaging to suit each market segment. With a focused marketing approach, you’re sure to find it easy managing your resources. Importantly, you need to give preference to the things that the best odds of creating long-term value. 

3. Define your marketing channels

Right after you’ve ascertained your target audience, it’s time to generate leads for each market segment.

The best way to do this? By being data-driven.

This means you need to get more granular and embrace the SMART goals concept. In essence, your objectives need to be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-related.

To kick things off on the right foot, you need to have your first SMART goal be all about the revenue target. With a clear definition of a revenue target, you can then proceed to conceive a cascading series of SMART goals. If possible, you want them all to be based on each lead generation channel in your system.

You also need to think tactically about your target markets and the marketing channels you use. How do you plan to generate more inbound leads? Does content marketing sound palatable?

If so, how often do you intend to publish? Which topics do you expect to garner much interest? Do you have a strategy to promote?

All these are questions that will help you gain a better understanding of your target audience. With an elaborate tactical plan, you can maintain consistency in all work departments.

4. Choose KPI and develop dashboards to monitor progress

Embracing a data-driven approach is sure to work great for you since you’ll be able to keep tabs on your KPI performance. By so doing, you’ll realize that you’re able to meet your goals after every quota without any surprises.

At the same time, being data-driven gives you insights on the effectiveness of your business development plan. With the right kind of intel, you can focus your resources on the strategies that work best. This may mean that you need to tweak or abandon poor-performing ones.

As you track progress, it’s important to also pick the metrics that matter. Ideally, you want to stick to those that contribute to your bottom line. To get a clearer picture, you need to reflect on your professional sales funnel for all of your marketing channels.

If you manage to set SMART goals for every step of the funnel, you’ll find it easy to track progress made. You can then share this information in dashboards for constant tracking and organization.

5. Align your process suit your customer’s needs

If you want to enhance your revenue generation process, you need to have the customer in mind. How best do you think your approach will correspond with your customers buying process? In a perfect world, you want the sales process to seamlessly happen irrespective of which salesperson on your team is involved.

In truth, this may be hard to accomplish, but, it can be done. All you need to do is identify the milestones that need to be accomplished in order to hasten the sales process.

You can define these milestones in your CRM system to ensure all salespersons know what’s expected of them. With a clear line of vision, they can breezily conceive plans to move to the next milestone.

As a manager, this will work great for you as you’ll have more insights into the sales pipeline. It’s also a brilliant strategy since it ensures a consistent sales approach form all team members.

As always, it’s vital to note that sales qualification is one of the most important stages of the sales process. In particular, SMB businesses need to have their sales qualification game on lock. This is because most of them have limited resources which they can’t expand on avenues not worth pursuing.

Without a refined qualification process, you’ll simply be setting yourself up for failure down the road. To avoid this, you need to be in tune with the intricacy of the modern buying process.

While conventional thinking will have you believe that the economic buyer holds the keys to the city, it’s a different ball game today. The B2B buying process has morphed into a process that now involves multiple stakeholders. As such, you need to make certain that your buying process shows this.

6. Find out resource needs

Having already discovered how to go about business expansion, it’s now time to move to the next phase. How exactly do you intend to execute your business development plan?

Are there specific attributes you’re looking for in employees? Do you have the technology to make your dreams a reality? What are your resource needs?

Importantly, you need to ascertain whether to employ a DIY (do it yourself) or a DIFM (do it for me) approach. This is because many SMB enterprises don’t have the prowess to take on complex business development plans.

Where the waters start getting murky, it’s logical to seek the services of an agency or consultant to help you out. It’s also sound advice to have your internal staff learn from them as they go about their business. You can also provide additional training to them so that they are well-versed in the business.

To achieve your revenue targets, you may realize that you need to invest more in your salespeople. As a manager, the onus is on you to think about whether hiring a sales assistant will prove beneficial. Once onboard, they may be able to keep your consultants focused on realizing more business opportunities.

In terms of technology, here’s what you’ll probably need during business development:

  • CRM software
  • Sales prospecting software
  • Dashboard software
  • Graphic design/video editing software
  • Content management system for your website
  • Webinar software
  • Marketing automation software

By figuring out your budget and resource needs, you’ll find it easier to navigate and hit target revenues.

7. Communicate with stakeholders

It’s crucial that you share your business development strategy plan with stakeholders.

Having said that, you need to think above and beyond just the management team. Everyone at your company needs to know the important aspects of your business development plan. This is because, some elements like messaging, high-level goals and target markets are actually important to everyone.

It’s also important that your service, management, and sales team are all reading from the same script about the company vision. When this happens, it will be easy for them all to focus on creating long-term value.

Consultants also need not be left in the cold. Part of their onboarding process needs to involve a review of the vision and goals of the company. With a proper briefing, they’ll be able to carry out their duties better and help you move closer towards the realization of your dreams.


A comprehensive business development plan that spells out review protocols and how to achieve your goals is necessary. To get to the promised land, you need to also ensure that you have the right technology and automation.

Now that we’ve highlighted 7 essential elements you need to succeed, we’re confident you’re ready to take on the world.

When do you plan to implement a business development plan?

Is there anything holding you back from doing so?

Let us know in the comments section below!


Kevin Thomas Tully is a globally-recognized Social Selling and Big Data strategist who employed the principles of Social Selling long before the term entered the popular business vernacular. A Johns Hopkins-trained data scientist, Kevin has applied true buyer intent data, predictive analytics, and data mining to the sales and marketing process for more than a decade to gain a strategic marketplace advantage for leading brands worldwide.

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