Business Development Basics: A Client-Centric Approach

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thank you everyone for joining us for

this session on business development

basics a client centric approach today's

session is part of the youth action at

virtual learning series which has been

made possible thanks to the support of

the American Express Foundation and

laureate international universities my

name is Jesse Ellis burg and I'm a

program and operations manager for Youth

Action net at the International Youth

Foundation and today I'm really happy to

be joined by my colleague Laura Rosen

who is the director of corporate

partnerships here at iyf laura has more

than 25 years of experience helping

large corporations small businesses and

nonprofits grow their revenue she's held

several marketing and sales strategy

positions at American Express including

director of customer experience and

director value proposition but then she

decided to transition her career to work

in a more mission based area and she

used her business background to help

advance international development

particularly working on Financial

Inclusion women's and girls empowerment

and global health health issues she

joined us at iyf in 2014 and she works

closely here with corporate partners

such as PepsiCo Chevron JPMorgan and

others and laura has a background in MBA

from Columbia University and she is

fluent in French and has a smattering of

other language skills as well we're very

excited to have Laura join us today

because she has such a great

understanding of business development

and some very helpful tips for

developing relationships with potential

clients Laura is going to share some

thoughts today and good practices on the

first steps of business development

getting a meeting and preparing for a

meeting and as we get into the area of

preparing for a meeting she's also going

to focus on the concepts and importance

of establishing value we know business

development is a very large topic and

we're just focusing on a small piece but

we want you to know that if you're

interested in other areas of business

development please please let us know

what those are so we can use that

information for future learning sessions

and please do ask questions throughout

the session so Laura before I hand

things over to you I think you'd be

helpful to start with terminology to get

us all

Paige the session is about business

development and using a client centric

approach so can you define some of those

terms for us sure and let me just say I

am delighted to be here I am a huge fan

of you a shavette that thank you so much

for having me for our purposes today

let's think of business development or

VB which is its nickname as identifying

and cultivating relationships with

potential sources of support for your

venture in terms of clients let's talk

about your audience which is or your

potential funders or donors or partners

whatever term you use the first step in

successful BD is really seeing them as

clients not as writers of checks and

seeing yourself as a provider of value

not as a recipients of charity what

makes any client of anything buy

something they have to see value in

what's being sold and so to be

successful in cultivating a funder is

like selling to a client you need to

offer them value which is the benefit of

your venture that's going to meet their

needs the most important fundamental of

BD is that it is always about the client

and so being client centric means

remaining focused on them and on their

needs not on you and your needs so

anytime you talk about your Venture it

should be in the context of how you can

help client accomplish their goals the

clients that we are referring to for the

purposes of our conversation today is a

corporate entity it might be a

multinational corporation or a local

mid-sized company but the context for

our purposes is that it will always this

entity will always be driven by business

needs great thanks Laura

that's really helpful to get us all on

the same page with those definitions so

now we have a shared understanding of

some key terms what do we need to know

about getting a first meeting with

potential clients great it is good to

remember for that first step in terms of

getting a first meeting that anywhere

you are BD is always just a conversation

away so be attentive because you never

know if you're talking to someone


the key to unlock an opportunity to help

you support your venture

so anyone you encounter at a networking

event at the grocery store in the

doctor's office waiting room there is

always a moment where they might say

what do you do and this is a golden

opportunity to spark the interest of a

potential client now the way to do that

is through your elevator pitch now I

know that many of you folks out there

have an elevator pitch you've been doing

it for a long time but it's worth

refreshing your memory on what the best

practices of elevator pitches really are

remember think about it in terms of

you've got one sentence you've got maybe

10 to 20 seconds to spark their interest

so what you are looking for is to share

the simple fundamental essence of what

your venture does this is the least the

person needs to know so you don't want

to make it a complex technical

description you don't want to use jargon

you want to tell it so that people who

aren't in the field can understand so

thinking about making helping your

mother understand it is a really good

proxy you also want to make sure your

focus less is really more you want to

share just enough to spark their

interest in a further conversation

remember if they want more information

they will not hesitate to ask for it and

then practice practice practice really

make sure you practice this repeatedly

and also with different audiences and

then watch the reaction if their eyes

light up and they say hey that's really

cool versus their eyes are glazing over

and they're not really sure what you're

talking about

so obviously you want to go for that

making it intriguing and cool and


so with those actually let me before I

move on let me share the iyf example

when I happen to run into people

anywhere I might be and they say what do

you do and I'm talking about IIF I like

you and I often will say I like to

oversimplify by saying we hope people

prepare for work and for life what I

don't say is iyf is an international NGO

that runs employability and

entrepreneurship training interventions

to increase work readiness competencies

because that is a really quick way to

lose an audience so there's just one

example the other thing that's really

important about that chance encounter is

that this is really not about you

delivering a monologue this is about a

chance to have a brief dialogue for you

to ask questions you want to get quick

information to find out if it might

actually be a prospective client and so

think about this even if you're at a

networking event where the point is to

meet people and talk about your business

the point is to unlock the next

conversation your sole purpose is to get

a meeting not to do the meeting right

then in there the other thing to bear in

mind is that in asking for a meeting

most of us don't really respond well to

a hard sell for anything so you want to

make it appealing the client centric

approach is to suggest the benefit to

them in meeting with you so it's not I

can't talk to you but it would it be

helpful for us to sit down for 30

minutes to chat more about how what we

do might support what you are trying to

accomplish the other thing is never be

shy about asking for a business card

because even if it's not appropriate to

ask our meeting right then and there in

person you can always follow up with an

email and you want to make sure you're

using the same principles of making that

meeting appealing thanks Laura I think

that's really helpful and practical to

keep those things in mind for

approaching potential clients it can be

really easy to try to tell someone

everything you can about your venture

but it's really important to keep it

simple and to try to engage in that

two-way conversation like you said so

before we move on I just want to check

and see if there are any questions that

people might have specifically about

that kind of getting a first meeting

element to engaging somebody who might

be a client to practicing your elevator

pitch or making that a two-way

conversation we'll give it just a moment

for some questions in case any burning

questions come up

so we have a great question that just

came in which is what if no one is

following up with you to set up a

meeting mmm that is a great question the

there are several things that play in

that the first is patience the other

thing is to remember that business

development is a very slow marathon it's

not a sprint and that's a cliche but if

you might ask for a meeting or you might

send an email and follow up and request

and not hear back the what you don't

want to do is to be overly persistence

and really start to chase after the

person because for any of us a

salesperson chasing after you is

annoying and so if if you don't get a

response to your first follow-up wait a

month or three months or six months

depending on what the initial encounter

was remember is slow and steady really

wins the race here and so it's fine if

there isn't an initial follow-up you can

always keep track of them and follow up

in time of all.we with the patient if

you've got a moment I'd love to have a

chance to sit down with you and again

those same principles of being client

centric apply and if they don't respond

and maybe it's not the right fit wait

for the next opportunity great and kind

of a follow-on question to that in terms

of what are your recommendations for the

way that you out there you reach out you

know if you follow up with an email and

maybe you don't get a respond should you

try a phone call instead the next time

around or should you kind of stick to

the same mode of communication really

what what's a good practice or are some

good advice on that it's a really good

question because it's much more art than

science these days very often people

appreciate email because it's much less

intrusive at the same time people get

lots of emails and it can get lost in

the shuffle and so if you've met someone

in person you want to go a bit on your

instinct of what how the encounter was

their level of

of morphs in responding to you in person

and if you really sensed interest and so

I would say if that's the case after the

first email then maybe try to click home

call down the road do it at maybe try it

on a Friday afternoon when people come

to be less stressed I wouldn't try it as

mine o'clock on Monday morning because

people are just trying to get back into

their the focus of their work life but

there's never any harm in varying as

well try an email maybe try phone call

don't pester them I think that's the

best rule of self right thanks Laura so

now that we have a sense of how to get

that first meeting what do we need to

know about preparing for meetings with

potential clients so it's a great

question and I would say that

preparation is really a critical aspect

of client centricity because think about

a scenario that we've all been in as a

potential client where it feels

important that a salesperson has a sense

of your needs and challenges and is

really then consultative to you in

selling to you so think of a scenario

we've all been in which is opening a

bank account you want to know that the

baking person across the table from you

understands your Venture understands

your business understands what kinds of

services and benefits and tools might

meet your needs so you want to be

prepared to create that same kind of

relationship dynamic with your potential

client and so research ahead of the

meeting is really essential to get a

feel for that prospective clients needs

and priorities there take a look

spend time going through their website

you want to understand their major of

lines of business so you can refer

intelligently to what they actually do

you want to a very important part is to

look at the different aspects of their

social investment there's a few

important points here you really want to

understand their structure understanding

their the structure of their social

developed investment will help you

identify who is making social

investments fund a decisions within the

company and ideally who you're going to

want to talk to when you're looking at

their website social investment lives

under multiple different aliases so you

will see Department four website headers

such as CFR which is corporate social

responsibility or CSI corporate social

investment it may be listed as

citizenship or philanthropy or giving

back things along those lines if they

also just be listed as the foundation

I'd like to say a quick word about

corporate foundations with some very

rare exceptions a corporate foundation

is not an independent philosophic

foundations like the Gates or

Rockefeller Foundation's a corporate

foundation is still driven by business

needs and still connected to the needs

of the company the foundation just

happens to be how their funding channels

through to recipients very important to

bear in mind image you're talking to the

foundation person they still have

business needs effort the other thing to

look at is their social investment

strategy what are their priorities what

are the regions they invest in what are

the somatic areas they invest in is it

education is it water is it health

issues is it girls if you want to make

sure that that you know what it is

they're spending their money on and then

take a look at that history of funding

what Amisha t'v have they put money into

you how much money is a given what's

been the duration of those investments

and then past their website make sure

you're googling them take a look at

their major is major news about their

company recently also make sure you're

looking at if there are trends in their

industry or if there are particular

national policies that might in fact

affect how they do social investments

important thing to remember with all

this research is how you're going to use

it and in your in your client centric

approach first of all you want to

determine how and even if you should be

pursuing them there needs to be an

alignment between their priorities the

geographies they're putting money into

their focus areas alignment between that

and what you offer and if there isn't

don't bother with that move on to a

different project also make sure

you're managing your own expectations in

terms of the type and the amount of

investment don't expect two hundred

thousand euros if they never did more

than ten thousand euros to any one

recipient also you want to use the

context in connecting your offering to

their business so a good example of this

is knowing the advantages of a company

investing in black economic empowerment

in South Africa for example or in

women-owned businesses or minority-owned

businesses those policies then can

become selling points for your venture

to the company and also doing this

research showing you've done your

homework and understand the client

really just makes you look informed more

professional and it shows you're not

wasting their time there is reasons for

you to be there and also all of this

research is going to help you develop

your value proposition and we'll be

talking about that more momentarily

one more point I'd like to make is to

make sure that you're thinking beyond

the money now a relationship of the

corporation can bring new value in many

different ways and money is only one of

them one of many so being prepared to

suggest different ways that a company

can partner with you to support your

venture so there are lots of ideas on

this slide but let me call out a couple

in particular core competencies of a

company is a really great way to find

lots of potential value of being able to

share their core competencies maybe a

much easier commitment for that company

to make to you and ultimately it may be

worth more to you than a cash donation

they might give you or a small check

they might write so what are examples of

core competencies this might be them

sharing or donating products and

services let's say it's a donation of

software or computer equipment or seeds

that you can plant it might be them

sharing technical expertise or some

other aspect of their own human capital

so that might be they companies always

have expertise in product development or

logistics or public relations or market

research there's a lots of value that

that company has

doesn't cost them a cent but it can be

incredibly valuable to you the other

thing I'd like to call out is the

benefit of having a positive

relationship with a company even if

there is no money coming to you in the

short term companies that bet like you

that feel positive about what you do can

make introductions to other stakeholders

or potential clients they can influence

other players they can be your champion

they can be your sources of information

and so being really open about ways in

which you can work with a potential

client far beyond just the money

so now you've researched the clients you

have a sense of their needs and

priorities you thought about what value

they can potentially give you before the

meeting it's really important to

establish what's the value you offer

them and that's the value proposition we

hear this term a lot out there so let's

maybe take a step back and define it for

a moment the value proposition or the

value story and I know I tend to use

those terms interchangeably basically

this is the information the services the

solutions of a support anything that you

can give a client that's going to help

them meet their specific needs goals and

priorities and this value proposition

will of course vary depending on who

you're talking to

so the right value proposition should

always be trained to connect the dots

between the client's needs and what your

venture does that can help them meet

those needs so it's really important to

think through what your value is to them

before going into the meeting but then

remember that this is your value

proposition may be a living breathing

thing you need to be prepared to probe

to validate to adjust your value

proposition and you learn more is a

meeting in order to make sure you are

still staying client centric so let's

say you're in the meeting now you reach

the via the pinnacle you've actually

gotten into a meeting what are some some

tips about what you can do to do that

validation that tailoring a bit of your

proposition that adjustments that I was

just mentioning so there are really four

things to think about here the first is

asking those probing questions so

examples might be what negative work

together better with other investments

you've made in the past with other

partners what kind of success metrics or

outcomes would you need to see how does

your company make these kinds of social

investment decisions and so the

important thing to remember asking these

questions is very important but then

there comes the answer view so don't

just be planning on what your next

talking point is actually listen to them

because you're going to hear clues based

on what they're saying that will then

help you further adapt that value

proposition so they may be telling you

things then you may have hear risks that

they see or a pain point that they've

had in the past that you know you want

to avoid mistakes that you can avoid you

want to use that information to then be

consultative the client centric in your

response and so once you heard some of

those things the next most important

piece is and it's a great way to think

about using empathy towards this client

another way to think about this is what

I call the Wisam principles with them

stands for what's in it for me

WI I SM and clients centricity is all

about the wisdom principles the client

needs to hear what they're they get out

of partnering with you not what you are

going to get out of working with them

and so being empathetic to your client

is really about seeing your value

through their eyes standing in their

suit shoes and making sure that your

value proposition is going to help them

meet their goals it's going to help them

be successful and so once you've heard

these things and you thought through

this that's then how you connect the

dots together in a focus message so I'd

like to share an example of how this

approach work

in real life and so I have a mini case

study which is actually is based on a

real scenario with a new potential

corporate client that I have now at iyf

I will not share their names to protect

the innocent but I thought I'd share how

I've been going about this so what I

learned from my background research and

actually from initial conversations that

I had with them is that for this company

they're fast growing they're building up

their brand they are focused on growth

in three developed markets from US

Canada and Australia and that's their

focus social investment or CSR is really

new it's at an early stage to this

company and their social investments are

primarily funded by employees making

donation donations to their corporate

foundation they're also it was clear to

me they're not technical experts in

international development they like the

feel-good aspect of youth empowerment

and they also were clear they wanted to

add their funding to an existing iyf

program so what I'd like to do is share

armed with that information share some

questions that I asked to probe then

what I heard in response and then how I

connected the dots to come up with a

value proposition so what would be a way

is value proposition to this potential

partner so I started by asking a few

questions what's really behind your

desire to not create a new program to

add on to an existing program what

really are your priorities for building

up your brand by funding by investing in

a program how do you really need to

engage your employees tell me more about


and so after asking those questions I

really had to listen carefully for the

clues that I heard what I heard was the

reason they didn't want to start a new

program as they were very concerned

about what would happen if they had to

stop funding it after a certain period

of time that felt very risky to them I

also found out in terms of branding it

wasn't external promotion

but it was internal promotion that was

most important to them and that they

that because engagement of employees was

so important they needed different ways

to encourage their employees to get

involved at the local level and then

ultimately to donate to the foundation

and they also needed to understand what

is it that I is what is the value of

that iof really offers why would they

work with Iolaus as opposed to just a

local organization and so how do I apply

my my my rhythm principle if you will

how did I take an empathetic approach to

this client I realized what needed to be

in it for them is that they had to hear


IIF could make this not as risky as they

thought it was going to be and that

working with iyf is going to help them

be able to inspire their employees to

engage in this program and to really

contribute to the foundation so they

could keep doing social investments and

so in connecting all of those thoughts

the value proposition that I came up

with was that by working with iys and

port their employees could help empower

disadvantaged young people in their own

communities in the United States with a

proven life skills program that prepares

youth for more positive futures now at

one sentence is a very dense sentence

and the truth is I'm morphing this

example a little bit because this was

more written than spoken but the

principles are the same here so bear

with me what I'd like to do is actually

unpack this example a little bit let's

dissect it so that you can see how each

component of this is client centric so

employees can help empower disadvantaged

young people this was making sure we

touched on how by investing in this

program they could inspire their

employees to engage to donate to their

foundation which would help their

foundation support social investment

right back with iyf focusing on

employees working in their own

communities meant we were going to come

up with options for local engagement so

that they

they could address that need to make

sure employees felt engaged at their own

local level and then we made sure we

focused on the United States Iowa s does

a lot of it work in the developing world

and lots of markets all over the world

what sort of interest to them and so I

wasn't going to focus on it even though

that's a big selling point for Iowa s

most of the time talking about this

being a proven program the I was

remembering that risk was top of mind

for them and so the idea is this is a

proven program IO is experience was

going to help this B lower risk for them

and then focusing on a life skills

program they weren't looking for

technical employability components they

wanted that feel good basic life skills

approach and then finally the by

investing in this program preparing

youth for more positive ventures the

metrics here we're going to be very


the message is inspiring and so

hopefully this helps show how each

aspect of that one sentence value

proposition map back to the clients

needs and that's how you maintain that

column intricity great thanks so much

Laura I think that's some really

excellent insights on understanding

potential clients and and how to develop

and tailor that value proposition and

it's great to see that how you broke

down that statement because there is so

much there that is cueing the the

particular potential client that you

really understand what they're looking

for so I would want to have an

opportunity to for Laura to answer some

questions so if you have any questions

start typing them in the Q&A box but

first I thought it would be helpful to

do a quick review of what you covered

and so Laura talked a little bit about

the steps to getting the first meeting

and so keeping in mind that

opportunities are everywhere

it's not just in your more typical

settings it's good to think broadly

about what as as Laura was saying where

you might spark a conversation or unlock

a new opportunity and and to do that

really well you need to master that

elevator pitch I think something that


seen a lot of people tend to try to cram

everything they can and they think I

only have 20 seconds I have to tell them

all the things and that's actually not

the most effective way to do your

elevator pitch and then also to remember

it's a two-way conversation again not

stop trying to tell them all the

information but really engaging them and

having a dialogue and not a monologue

and then in terms of preparing for a

meeting I think you really drove home

how important it is to prepare really

well and to make sure that you do your

research in your homework ahead of time

so that you know who it is you're

talking to what their values are what

what their priorities are what their

concerns are what their what they might

be wary of and then to think broadly

beyond money because I think it's very

easy to think oh corporations I need to

I can get some funding from them but

there are a lot of other ways that they

can add value and then very importantly

all of this information about tailoring

that value proposition and keeping in

mind that you can't just have one value

proposition right like if you have to be

tailored to who it is you're talking to

and what their needs are and all of

these of course time back to this idea

of being client centric because this is

what business development is all about

if you're not really focused on on the

needs and expectations of your client

you're not going to make that connection

and make it last so I'd like to quickly

make the American Express Foundation and

laureate international universities once

again for their support of the use

action at virtual learning series and of

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