In some lines of work, the business development (or sales) process is a long and winding road, inclusive sometimes of an activity or two that go beyond the phone call or conference room meeting. Here are a handful of the most popular, whether or not they've seen their time come and go or are up-and-coming, and how you go about engaging in them...
Lunch still very much has a place in the business development process, particularly if you're in a services or consulting business. However, the Mad Men days of three martini lunches are (almost) entirely behind us. We personally think a lunch meeting is good thing. Dedicating some quality time to a prospect where your only distraction is the dish in front of your may be better than a conference call in which you've got Twitter open on your phone, have your laptop open to BuzzFeed... you get the idea.
And if you're treating (which you should be if you're trying to win the business), don't forget to take a picture of your receipt with your handy accounting app! A lunch like that is a business expense!
Deals get done on the golf course, right? Maybe they used to, but in general, a round of golf to secure a customer is somewhat antiquated and not to mention time-consuming. (Who has four-plus hours to carve off?) But of course, there are some industries for which 18 holes is entirely appropriate. (We can't think of any at the moment, so if you golf to land customers or clients, drop a comment at the bottom of this post.) Also, the number of golfers (at least in the U.S.) is declining rapidly.
An air high-five goes out to whoever can name the only two regular golfers here at Kashoo. Pick from Jim, Wendy, Greg, Chuck, Dave, Chris, Kasey, Siena, Pez or Nikki. (Hint: Pez is definitely not one of the two.)
Breakfast has become an increasingly popular biz dev choice. (Actually, it's become a preferred spec meeting time for lots of busy people because, from their perspective, it doesn't eat into their productivity hours.) In general, breakfast is a great move. Not only is it the best meal of the day, but for most, confidence is high in the morning. You're feeling good, feeling fresh. Your clothes aren't wrinkled up yet, and if it's summertime and you live somewhere humid, you haven't developed your afternoon sheen yet. Typically though, breakfast meetings make great first meetings.
Bonus Tip: If you're meeting for breakfast with a prospect, find out where they live and pick a location that's easy for them to get to. Even better, comb their Twitter or Yelp account to see if they've raved about or reviewed a particular breakfast spot.
Yes, running! You'd be surprised, but going for a biz dev run has become somewhat of a rage—especially for those obsessed with the quantified self. (Looks at Apple Watch.) Of course you want to make sure that your running partner A. cares for running and B. isn't going to need to tow along an oxygen tank. You also want to be cognizant of the impression suggesting a run might create. It could backfire, if you think about it. But if you're certain the suggestion will be well received, why not combine two great things: business and fitness?
Side note: Miles or kilometers traveled while biz dev running during not tax deductible.
Anything Where a Bathing Suit is Required
Don't. Just don't.
This is sort of in the same vein as running, but yoga is on the rise when it comes to new alternative biz dev activities. We say give it a shot. It can't hurt! (Again though, make sure your counterpart is down with yoga or at least willing to give it a try. If it's new to both of you then at least you'll bond over how bad you are at it.)
A Sporting Event
Sporting events still hold a place in the business development realm. If you work for a big company (which most of you don't), it's great if you can take advantage of a corporate box or floor seats at your local arena. But for most of us, a biz dev sporting event usually means your buying the tickets. Ultimately, we say only consider a sporting event if you're confident your prospect is at least mildly cares about the team or sport.
Bonus Tip: Baseball games make for good biz dev venues because they give you plenty of quiet time to have conversations with your prospect. (No offense to baseball, of course.)
With happy hour comes great responsibility—especially if you're looking to land a deal. It probably doesn't need to be said, but always be careful when mixing alcohol with potential clients. (Once they're clients and you've established a relationship, you can use your judgment a bit more.) It may even be safe to err on the side of drinking just soda or water. Boring, yes, but at least you'll be less likely to say or do something you'll regret. Of course if you're in the wine, spirits or beer industry, biz dev happy hours may be your best bet.
What other biz dev activities do you do? Tell us about them in the comments. (And whoever can identify a Beatles song title hidden in this post will get a prize.)