Business development can be fun

but it’s usually frustrating. Why?

© 2019 by KOMUNIKATOR 

Regardless of what you do, chances are some people know, respect and speak highly of you, others never heard of you. 

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And business development is getting those “others” to notice, respect and want to do business with you. Sounds exactly like the challenge in LOST, the TV series, where a bunch of stranded survivors were being messed with by a group of hostile fanatics called The Others.

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Hopefully and most probably your potential buyers or partners in a new market are not hostile fanatics. If they are, it would make things easier of course. Just show up with a demonstration of brute force and you’re done. 

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But like the rocket bay of nuclear missile submarine, most people don’t react well to flying bullets. So being overly aggressive, arrogant and apprehensive isn’t the way to make a great introduction.

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The same is true of the opposite though. You shouldn’t make an entrance in a way that makes you invisible, weak and inconsequential.

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So how do you strike the right balance? How do you make yourself present, relevant and attractive to business who never heard of you and have no incentive to take the time and get to know you? How do you do that fast and in a market where you are by default considered inferior? 

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What do I mean by inferior? Well if someone for example from Romania want’s to do business in Slovenia, they will be pre-judged as inferior. And will not get a fair shot.

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And when that same judgmental Slovenian buyer goes to Germany to sell something, they in turn will be considered less important, reliable, trustworthy by a German counterpart. And when this hypothetical German buyer tries to do business in Norway, the same will happen to them.

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Sure you could say this has something to do with how people from comparatively poorer southern countries go to richer northern countries and take service jobs. Regardless if cleaning houses or being doctors or engineers, they assume the role of servants and hired hands. And some - as is now the popular official term - also assume the role of “bad dudes”, which feeds the inferiority narrative by drawing a line between “us” and “them” in terms of moral values. And that’s the hardest line to erase and easiest to attack.

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But the reality of business is that large enterprises don’t care where you come from. They do business everywhere in the world and take people who can get the job done. However they understand that the suppliers they pick in effect become the components of the product they’re delivering. 

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And if they pick unproven, unreliable people to deliver things on time and budget, they will find themselves eventually losing quality, reliability and eventually market position. 

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So it’s normal that companies who create and capture high value also exercise great caution when being approached to buy something from a new vendor. They don’t want to risk problems. And a part of the reason why they do business everywhere is so that they can save money and usually they pay less when hiring contractors from poorer countries.

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Now if you really have the technological, financial and brand muscle, none of this matters. Like your local Russian oligarch, inventor of car batteries that rival Tesla or patent holder for a miracle cure, you will be welcome anywhere. 

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The problem is, many innovative, excellent, growing business don’t have that kind of uniqueness or clout.

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So for them getting status in a new market is easy if they bring suitcases full of money, marry into a noble, well connected family or at least start business through a Swiss shelf company.

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But what if you just shop up and try to win on the merits of your product or idea?

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Unless you invented something leading scientists will need 2 to 4 years to decompose and copy, here’s a list of how you will surely fail:

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1. Talk about your products.

2. List references from less prestigious markets.

3. Go into technical details.

4. Ask for a deposit or pre-order to do customization.

5. Rely on diplomatic or political lobbying.

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Instead, you can try do to this:

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6.  Define what makes you a good fit for this market.

7.  Select an angle, a frame, through which you start

    sharing your story, not an explanation.

8.  Have materials that help others talk about you.

9.  Conduct yourself as someone who belongs there and has

    in their possession something of extreme value.

10. Run a communication campaign that gets you remembered.

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Most people do 1-5 and that isn’t fun to do or watch.

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On the other hand, companies who focus on points 6-10 feel confident, make fast progress and come across as potential partners that command a higher price for a better product or solution.

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You can start today. Check your presentation, strategy, website for how you do in points 6 to 10. 

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Business Development will feel more fun the closer you get to ideas at the bottom half of the list. It will also generate more opportunities, value and revenue faster.

By Goran Tomsic — January 10, 2019

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