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Reducing the Cost of Doing Business: Focus More on Building Relationships

Alex Firmin, Associate Director for Programmes at GC Business Growth Hub partner InPD, explains how businesses can build and maintain high trust relationships and reduce costs in the process. 

For several decades, business development professionals have been categorised as ‘hunters’ and ‘farmers’.  The hunters generate leads and focus on winning new deals, whilst farmers manage and grow accounts, developing ongoing opportunities. In many organisations, the plaudits and glory tends to go to the hunters who bring in the new deals, with the farmers sometimes being somewhat overlooked. 

It’s worth considering the often quoted (and maybe apocryphal) statistic that suggests that it is 8X more expensive to win new business than grow existing accounts.  In practice this would depend on the nature of the industry, but it is often the case that businesses spend significant sums trying to generate new business opportunities, particularly when that involves exporting or working through lengthy tender processes.

One way to significantly increase revenue without growing costs is to focus more on the relationships we already have.  Farming is often unjustly overlooked; it is a highly skilled role that requires account managers to gain an understanding of the client’s industry and challenges, and to have the integrity to build high trust relationships.  Excellent farmers will need to be curious, emotionally intelligent, effective listeners, and able to make judgements about when to give information without overwhelming the client, or becoming an irritation.

"Account Managers have a broad knowledge of all business support services across Greater Manchester. They’ll listen to your business ambitions and challenges, discuss with you a tailored package of support, and develop a bespoke action plan. They are well connected, discreet and build excellent relationships."

Caroline Cain, Head of Account Management & Client Engagement, Relationships & Place of Business Growth Hub

For any business or charity, there is value in reflecting on how business development resources are being invested.  Does the organisation invest enough in the people and time required to build long term relationships and partnerships?  Also, who gains the recognition and reward?  If there is a disparity in perceptions between hunters and farmers, and in our experience there quite often is, this should be reviewed.  Businesses can grow much more efficiently, whilst maintaining their reputation and strengthening their brand, when they become trusted advisors to their existing client base.


In Professional Development


This article was written solely by the identified authors and/or organisations. The views and opinions expressed are those of the authors and/or organisation – not those of the #HereForBusiness campaign or GC Business Growth Hub.  

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