Why There’s Never Enough Time for New Business Development

Over the past week three of my customers, including a new business, had a similar dilemma: how to we manage our current business while gaining new clients? There is no easy answer, though I’ll rely on a saying I heard many years ago as a partial answer: “For every action there are two reasons: a good reason and the real reason.” Often the real reason is underneath the surface a little.

Make time for new business development — because it won’t make time for you!

For most people, developing new client relationships is somewhat challenging, if downright intimidating. It requires prospecting, the likelihood that you will not be successful many times, an understandable discomfort of asking for referrals or other help, and time away from those things that have already made you considerable money. There’s temptation to throw yourself into your current work with renewed vigor, with the good reason that it requires all your time and efforts.

To clear your desk (and your mind) for new business development, considering the following points:

• If you’re always exceptionally busy, can you find someone to take over part of your work? You should calculate how much more you would need to make in order to justify their compensation — though in my experience a successful salesperson can recoup the investment in sales support in a year or less, thereafter profit. For those who can’t afford the additional help, consider that you now have two jobs: the back office work, which is for nights/weekends, and client-facing work during the regular workweek.

• Have you made scheduling new client prospecting a part of your weekly calendar review? I find that when I put new client development first, and arrange the rest of my calendar around those times, that the development work tends to get done. It’s much like scheduling my HVAC filter changes: if it doesn’t get on my calendar, it gets forgotten — to the detriment of my new HVAC system.

• Is there more money to be made from current clients? Sometimes your best prospecting comes from understand client needs in greater depth, and how you can fulfill them. Once you have a relationship, it’s far more profitable to derive business from that relationship than to search out new ones. The danger, though, is that you might become completely focused on current client opportunities, to the exclusion of prospecting for new customers.

Remember when mom told you to finish your vegetables? Today, you’re your own “mom” — the one who has to direct positive change. When you make the time for productive activities that might not be all that pleasant — exercise programs, volunteer programs, professional development — the dividends are almost always worth the effort.

Jim Shulman is the founder of Elsinore Business Associates, specializing in coaching very successful financial advisors and attorneys. More at www.elsinoreba.com