Getting Started: Steps to Developing a Successful Business Plan

Numbers Of Starting Line Track

By Chuck and Evan Polin, Sandler Training, The Training Resource Group

Most professionals who successfully develop business do not become successful by accident. There may be a very small percentage that “gets lucky” and “falls into” a large account or a great relationship — leaving these professionals vulnerable in the event that business ever disappears. This is why everyone, even those who are fortunate enough to inherit important accounts, should design a plan and work that plan in order to develop new business.


The first step in successfully developing business is a deceptively simple-sounding one. You must decide for yourself that you really do want to engage in the business development process.

Developing new business takes hard work, a willingness to try something new and risk failure, and the ability to move out of your comfort zone. These requirements prevent many from deciding with full intention that they are willing to engage in the process.


Specifically, there are two major commitments you must make in order to be successful in business development.

The first is a time commitment. In chapters four through fifteen we will discuss the steps of executing a successful business development plan, a large part of which relies on committing yourself to spending a specific amount of time working your plan. For some people, it is possible to be successful developing business in as a little as four to five hours per week. Other professionals may need to make a larger time commitment to develop the base of business they need. Either way, if you want to be successful, you must commit some time to prospecting, cultivating relationships, and meeting with potential clients.

The next commitment takes the form of a willingness to change current practices that simply do not work. Very few of the professionals that we meet are developing more business than they or their firm can handle. That means just about everyone has room to improve, and just about everyone is doing something that is not working as well as it could.

If you want to develop more new business, you must change your mindset as well as your behaviors. And, as we have noted, in order to achieve success, you must want to develop new business. For most of the professionals we work with, this is a major change.

There is no book or training program that will help the professional who has no interest in changing. You will need to look at business development in a whole new light, change the way you approach the task of scheduling your day, your week, and your month, and then actually try some new activities and new techniques. If you have already been successful developing business, you may need to move into new markets, reach out to new contacts, or implement new tactics to achieve the next level of success. If you are successful selling some of your services or practice areas but not others, you may need to look at what changes need to be made in the underperforming areas.

A willingness to embrace change is also essential for professionals who hold leadership positions in the firm. For instance: If you have tasked your most successful business development people and rainmakers with the responsibility of mentoring other, less successful members of the firm, but have not seen positive results arise from that mentoring, you may need to look at developing a different system or process that will help more of the people in your firm to generate new business.

One major behavioral change that just about everyone we work with has to come to terms with is that of preparing and practicing an answer to the common requests “Tell me about yourself” and “Tell me about your business.” In chapter 10, you will learn about the Sandler 30-Second Commercial, which is a memorable way for you to introduce yourself to someone you have not previously met. For most professionals, the format we use is radically different from the 30-second commercials they have tried in the past. In all likelihood, you will need to practice your new 30-second commercial 50 to 100 times before becoming comfortable enough with it to deliver it naturally to a new acquaintance.


We can assure you that there is only one time when the tactics and techniques that we will share with you here do not work. They do not work when you do not try them.

In our over 20 years of working with business professionals, we find that 10-15 percent of the professionals we have worked with are simply unwilling to move out of their comfort zone and try out new ideas. We hear things from the skeptics like, “This will not work for me” or “This will not work in my business.” But when we ask them for the reasons why they believe these tactics and techniques will not work, they cannot give us an answer.

The truth is that some people are so rooted in their current comfort zone that it is almost impossible for them to change. Remember, the definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over and expecting different results. Our challenge to you is to break this insanity cycle so you can obtain the results you need in your business development endeavors.


In addition to what you have just read, you and your firm must make a financial commitment to business development. Professionals who have the most success developing business hire some type of coach to work with them in improving their skills. Hiring an outside expert is only logical. Most of our clients have invested tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars in completing their formal professional training in their chosen field. They have attended college, graduate school or law school, conferences and seminars, and they have invested in ongoing continuing education.

It should come as no surprise, then, that the most successful professionals, the ones who are the most productive business developers and rainmakers, make a financial investment in themselves. They commit to providing themselves with the tools they need to be successful.

This information was originally published in “Sandler Professional Services the Sandler Way: Nobody Ever Told Me that I’d Have to Sell,” by Chuck and Evan Polin, Sandler Training, The Training Resource Group. It is available for purchase on Amazon.


CEO of The Training Resource Group, Chuck Polin brings more than 40 years of sales, sales management, and corporate executive experience to the firm. He has managed numerous sales forces, directed various marketing campaigns and was president of a Fortune 500 Company division.


President of The Training Resource Group Evan Polin joined the firm in 2001 and brings a wealth of training and coaching experience to the firm. Evan is a certified Sandler trainer and his background in the mental health field has helped his clients make permanent change in their behavior.