10 Tips to Improve Your Business Development

Business development word chart

Building an efficient business development (BD) pipeline is pivotal for any business owner or entrepreneur who’s aiming to scale his or her operations. A well-optimised BD pipeline can drive growth and ensure that your resources are utilised in the most effective manner.

In this article, I’ll look at 10 actionable ways that you can improve your business development, from assessing your current pipeline to leveraging tools like LinkedIn and business intelligence software.

1.    Assess Your Current BD Pipeline

With any business process, I always maintain that it’s crucial to start with an honest and clear assessment of your starting point. This applies to BD, too. Figuring out what your current pipeline looks like or if it even exists at all helps you to fill in the blanks of what needs to change.

An accurate BD pipeline is crucial as it provides a true representation of potential business opportunities. Without it, your sales projections and resource allocations could be misguided. Common pitfalls include outdated leads, unrealistic projections, and inflated opportunity sizes.

Clean up your leads.

Start by cleansing your pipeline of outdated or irrelevant leads. Use tools like CRM systems to speed this process up with automation.

Objective reflection.

Ensure your pipeline represents realistic opportunities by setting criteria for what constitutes a viable lead.

2.    Implement a ‘Bid-No Bid’ Process

A Bid-No Bid process is a crucial tip for effective business development. It helps in making informed decisions about which opportunities to pursue. This process saves time and resources by focusing on leads with the highest chances of success.

Choosing criteria.

Try developing objective criteria like a budget, client fit, and project scope. Apply these criteria to new and existing leads to filter out the less promising options.


Implementing a Bid-No Bid process can help you streamline your resource allocation and increase your chances of winning valuable projects. It’s great for efficiency, too.

3.    Employ Sensible Forecasting Methods

Forecasting candidly and honestly means considering two key factors:

  • The probability of business materialising.
  • The likelihood of winning the business.

There are a few different approaches to this, from weighted pipeline analysis to scenario planning. It’s important to regularly update your forecasts based on new data to make sure they remain accurate.

4.    Try Business Intelligence Tools

Business intelligence (BI) tools are key when searching for things that can improve your business. They can prove invaluable for pipeline analysis, offering insights through data visualisation to help you identify trends and opportunities.


Use visual tools like bubble charts to analyse opportunities based on size and likelihood. Segment your pipeline data by industry and market to gain deeper insights.

Sector and market analysis:

Employ methods to analyse pipeline data by sector, like market share analysis and competitive benchmarking. This helps in identifying high-potential areas.

A stylised image of someone using business intelligence tools on a tablet

5.    Get to Grips with Gestation Periods

Understanding the time from lead generation to order placement is absolutely vital. It helps set realistic sales targets and time slots.

Validation techniques:

Validate gestation periods for different products and sectors by analysing historical data. Adjust your forecasts to be in line with these findings, and you’ll improve your accuracy.

Addressing forecast inaccuracies:

If your business struggles with moving forecasts, then try using more sophisticated statistical models or AI-driven analytics to enhance prediction accuracy.

6.    Conversion Rates and Performance Metrics

Key metrics include the conversion rate from unqualified leads to qualified leads, quotes, orders, and final outcomes. Analyse these ratios by sector, product, and salesperson to find strengths and weaknesses in your BD process.

You can use the insights you gain from this to refine your BD strategies, focusing on areas with the highest potential improvement or the greatest need for support.

7.    Ensure Effective Metrics and Optimise Sales Team Efficiency

Tracking and analysing activity metrics like contacts, calls, and visits is crucial for understanding sales effectiveness. Ensure your sales teams are adequately staffed and active in the right areas, regularly evaluating activities to align with sales goals and make necessary adjustments.

To optimise efficiency, address common excuses for poor performance with data-backed solutions and emphasise accountability. Use performance data to monitor progress and identify improvement areas. Design engaging incentive programs tailored to individual and team performance metrics to motivate and drive desired behaviours, fostering a competitive yet collaborative environment.

8.    Leveraging LinkedIn for BD

When it comes to the best tips for improving your business development, LinkedIn can be a powerful tool. It’s a great way to reach new contacts and expand your network. You can use it to identify potential clients and engage with industry leaders, too.

Personalised connection requests and regular content updates are key ways to make the most of LinkedIn. It’s also perfect for identifying and targeting potential clients with its advanced search features. Segment your audience by industry, location, and job title for maximum reach.

9.    Analysing Competitors

Identify your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses by using tools like SWOT analysis to gain a comprehensive overview. Understand why clients might choose competitors over your business and use that insight to refine your BD strategies to meet client needs better.

An image showing the swot criteria: Strength, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats

10. Develop a Clear BD Plan

Having followed these 10 tips to improve your business development, it’s time to develop a robust BD plan. It should include clear objectives, target markets, and actionable strategies. Make sure that your plan is aligned with your overall business goals, too.

Your BD plan should support your company’s broader growth strategies and be regularly reviewed and updated to ensure that it stays relevant. Finally, it’s crucial that your team is fully on board with the plan. Gaining understanding and commitment from every stakeholder is absolutely vital for the success of your BD plan.

Ready to Build an Innovative and Robust BD Plan?

Leverage 25 years of international B2B marketing, strategy, and sales expertise to optimise your BD pipeline for unparalleled growth. I’ve worked with numerous businesses from diverse sectors, and have a catalogue of success stories as a result.

For more information on how I can help you, visit my pipeline management page or get in touch to learn more.

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Further Reading