Business Development Plan – Why Now Is the Perfect Time To Pivot

20th January 2021Business Development


When was the last time you reviewed your business development plan?

Do you even have one?

As we kick off 2021 now is the perfect time to plan your next moves. And doing more of the same as you’ve done in the past is unlikely to be a smart move.

So, it’s the right moment to re-evaluate your business development plan and pivot.

In other words, to grasp the nettle and make significant changes to adapt to the transformed ways of doing business caused by COVID-19

What’s your business development plan for 2021?

The coronavirus pandemic and the resulting lockdowns have affected organisations in numerous ways.

Your business may have been given a boost if you happen to operate in a growth sector such as pharmaceuticals, e-learning, or remote working tools and software.

More likely, you’ve had to deal with business disruption and an abrupt shake-up of your carefully crafted business development plans.

Either way, you’re probably being impacted by these 3 business trends that will continue to be important in 2021:

So, it’s time to go back to the drawing board, revise your business development strategy and reset your business development plan.

What goes into a business development plan?

There is no magic formula for a winning business development plan.

What goes into your plan is determined by your overall business strategy. For example, this could be survival, growth, or transformation.

That said, your business development plan is a roadmap that should contain these 5 essential elements:

1. High-level objectives

  • What goals do you have to reach by year-end to be successful?
  • For example, level of revenue or profit, amount of new business acquisition, percentage market share, etc.

2. Target markets and your competitive advantage in these markets

  • What makes you different from and better than other vendors?
  • How will you communicate, demonstrate, and prove this?

3. Marketing channels and buying behaviour of your ideal prospects

  • How will you reach your “best-fit” potential clients?
  • How will you convert them into paying customers?

4. Products and services

  • Which products or services have the highest growth potential?
  • How can you further develop them to addresses changing buying behaviours?

5. Measures of success

  • How will you measure progress towards the achievement of your high-level objectives?
  • What KPIs do you need to analyse to ensure you remain on track as 2021 unfolds?

Pivots for success in 2021

Everyone will agree that 2020 was a year of rapid change.

The most important questions now are: 

What have you learned from 2020?

How will you apply that learning to 2021?

What opportunities can you seize if you pivot now?

“A pivot is a change in direction and is not without risk.”

Chris Dunn

However, for most businesses stubbornly sticking to the original business development plan may prove to be riskier in the mid to long term.

That’s because the shape of the “next normal” is already coming into sharper focus.

Indeed, a survey of British companies conducted by the Royal Mail in October 2020 revealed that 71% of the firms polled claim to have already changed their business model in response to the coronavirus crisis.

So, which pivots are likely to pay off this year?

Pivot 1 – Go online

The most common changes reported by the Royal Mail survey were:

  • Moving product sales and customer service online
  • Introducing click and collect or delivery options where on-premise consumption is no longer possible
  • Refocussing and repurposing marketing activities

What had previously been a gradual rise in e-commerce suddenly skyrocketed after the first lockdown.

According to the UK Office of National Statistics, online transactions grew by a staggering 64% from March 2020 to Nov 2020.

Moreover, it’s not just product purchases fuelling the e-commerce boom.

Organisations that previously delivered services face to face have found clever ways to convert them into online offerings.

From virtual workouts to online pub quizzes, entrepreneurs have been busy signing-up subscribers for remote recreation activities.

In the B2B arena, trainers, motivational speakers, coaches, and consultants have productised their expertise, repackaging it into webinars, online courses and e-books.

Finally, in the workplace itself organisations have been investing heavily in the use of technology, digitisation, and new ways of working to power productivity.

Pivot 2 – Go direct

Even before the COVID-19 crisis, increasing numbers of B2B brands had started to sell their products and services directly to consumers.

This trend gathered pace as a response by established brands such as Gillette and Unilever to the growing success of pure-play direct to consumer brands (D2C) like Dollar Shave Club and Harry’s.

The enabler for these challenger brands was not just the growth in e-commerce.

It was also driven by an increasing desire on the part of consumers for more personalised engagements with their preferred brands and new ways of consuming their products. For example, through pay as you go and delivered to your door.

With lockdown forcing consumers to stay at home and supply chains coming under severe pressure, demand for direct to consumer goods and services has soared.

As a result, manufacturers and brands, who were once nervous of upsetting their wholesale and retail partners, have opted to become more overt in their D2C activities.

During the height of the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, CMS platform provider Episerver polled 600 global B2B decision makers about digital experience tactics and technology.

They found that while 41 percent of respondents stated that selling directly to their customers is now their company’s top opportunity, many are finding it difficult to achieve this aim.

This is partly because third parties often manage the end customer relationship in B2B scenarios.

Breaking free of these third-party shackles must now be writ large on your business development plan.

Especially, because customers are increasingly seeking a direct relationship with manufacturers and brands.

Moreover, many are also eager to support companies with values that coincide with their own. Values such as social responsibility and sustainability.

Pivot 3 – Go green

In a survey conducted in October 2018 by sustainability consultancy Futerra, 88% of consumers stated that they wanted brands to help them live sustainably.

In addition, Governments throughout the world are offering green grants to businesses as part of their COVID-19 economic stimulus packages.

Therefore, it makes sense for companies of all shapes and sizes to publicise their green credentials, raise the bar on their sustainability targets and invest more in developing eco-friendly products and services.

In summary: pivot your business development plan or perish

The COVID-19 crisis has brought unprecedented change and disruption within the space of a few short months.

Whether you have been positively or negatively impacted, one thing is clear.

“The future is already here – it’s just not evenly distributed”

William Gibson, Author

Regardless of the shape or size of your business, what worked well in the past, may not carry on working in the future.

Therefore, you cannot sit out this crisis and expect to emerge the other side with your pre-Covid business development plan intact.

Now is not the time to be the general fighting the last war. Or the leader attempting to build tomorrow’s business with yesterday’s tools.

That’s why now is the perfect time to pivot.

Update your business development plan. Do it before it’s too late.