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Should biz dev be proactive or reactive?

Adam Zuchetti
Adam Zuchetti
13 June 2017 1 minute readShare
Proactive or reactive

When it comes to business development, is it the best approach to proactively or reactively respond to the changing needs and wants of customers?

For Marty Halphen, CEO of corporate food delivery service The Fruit Box Group, it was the latter that helped transform the business he acquired from a small local operation into a national empire with turnover of more than $50 million.

“It was very reactive, listening to customers, listening to the questions that they had,” Marty says on the My Business Podcast.

“Our whole business, over the last 16 or 17 years, has been modelled on the customer being our teacher.”

In 2000, Marty bought a small fruit delivery business that had around 300 customers in suburban Melbourne.

“In 2001, a customer asked me, do I deliver fruit to the workplace? So that’s where I went. I thought there was an opportunity there,” explains Marty.

“Then, what happened in 2004, 2005, is one of those customers asked me, do I deliver to Sydney? So I thought, geez, here’s an opportunity, maybe become a national business.”

According to Marty, it’s not just growth in footprint that has come from customer demand, but also a diversification of services, with the company adding milk to its fresh produce deliveries into workplaces across the country.

It is a common thread among successful businesses, particularly those operating in established industries, that innovation, growth and diversification should come as the result of existing customer feedback, rather than building new concepts for the sake of trying to be innovative.

For example, Paul Cave of BridgeClimb Sydney is a great advocate of responding to consumer needs to adapt his service offering, as is Philip Bartholomew of My Pet Warehouse.

Check out more insights on business development, fast growth as well as the productivity benefits of corporate social responsibility programs on the My Business Podcast below:

Should biz dev be proactive or reactive?
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Adam Zuchetti
Adam Zuchetti

Adam Zuchetti is the former editor of MyBusiness and a senior freelance media professional, specialising in the fields of business, personal finance and property. In 2020, he also embarked on his own business journey – inspired in part by the entrepreneurs and founders he had met through his journalistic work – with the launch of customised pet gifting and subscription service Paws N’ All.

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