How I Improved My Productivity as a Business Development Manager Using Trello

Trying to find the notes you wrote down from that call you had with a client two weeks ago?

What about the status of our current negotiations with the other client?

Wait, where did I put the latest red lines for that agreement?

Things can get messy in the business development workflow. Things get misplaced and disorganized, making it harder to prioritize the task at hand.

This is especially true for me. I go through the entire business cycle from prospecting clients to closing the deal and integrating them on to our platforms. Keeping track of everything in one place has been a challenged and I have went through many iterations to continue improving my work flow.

I have tried many productivity alternatives

Let’s start off with what you may be thinking. Use Salesforce. Well, our company has Salesforce. The problem? Our corporate team that manages it created one dashboard for all the employees. Since I cannot customize it to my needs, it’s unusable in its current state.

I have also worked with spreadsheets but it’s not as fluid because it means adjusting cells that requires things to be shifted up, down, left, or right. Also, it’s hard to leave detailed notes without bloating the column or row. Additionally, I work out of a lot of spreadsheets and it can easily be lost in the multiple spreadsheets I have open.

I have tried Asana and used it as my primary workflow until…

One day, I read an article about how Trello was used by a Product Manager. I think Product Managers come up with the most efficient ways to be productive. And I am big on efficiency. I wish I can remember the article but if I ever find it again, I’ll be sure to link it here. I’ll do my best to recap the use case.

Basically, the PM created one board per team and created lists (or buckets) with informative cards in each.

I have used Trello in the past and only saw it as a kanban to do list. However, this PM drilled down into each card in their list to show how they were utilizing it. What caught my attention was how the PM used each card to document all the important details in the Description.

There are separate sections in each Trello card. They include: Description, multiple Checklists, Due Dates, and the ability to Attach Files or Links.

Also, there’s a section for Comments. This would generally be used for collaboration but for me, I can see it as a place to jot down notes.

I also enjoy the fact that I can use markdown to stylize my description and comments.

I started to visualize how I would use Trello for my current and how it would help streamline my processes and keep everything in one place.

Business Development Workflow

After a bit of experimenting, I came up with my current workflow which I’ve been using for the past six months.

Let’s go through my current board and how I use each list, then how I use the cards.

I’ve created a sample board that you can create a copy of. https://trello.com/b/gDH1FjxF/business-development-template

How to copy a Trello board

Press Show Menu in the top left then Select More, and then Copy Board.

Here are the lists I use for my board and feel free to adapt them to your workflow.

  • References
  • To do/Doing/Done
  • Hold
  • Introduction
  • Negotiations
  • Contract Review
  • Contract Complete
  • Account Integrated

Let’s go over each list and what they mean to me.

References
All those spreadsheets and miscellaneous documents that are being shared with me? I created a card to house them under “Docs” if they’re relevant for me. Additionally, in this list, I keep any documentation, links, or random Excel formulas. I list them out in the Description with a sentence about what they are.

This is especially useful for links. Links to email threads (more on that later) or internal tools are so much easier once I implemented this system. You’re probably thinking, “Why don’t you just bookmark them in your browser?” I can but I easily forget links I bookmark. With Trello, I put all relevant links in each card with a meaningful Title.

To Do/Doing/Done
These are usually tasks and reminders that I need to do, such as following up with clients or pinging someone internally. I have moved to another app for this because I find it less efficient to drag and drop everything and it made more sense to use a dedicated to do app instead. I’m currently using Taskade as my bullet journal/to do list. I’ll write up an article on how I built my daily work and personal task management around it.

However, if you plan to stay within the Trello ecosystem, it’s simple to set up. List all your to dos and move things you plan to work on now in the Doing list.

Once it’s done, move to Done.

Hold
This is actually part of the prospecting aspect of business development. I positioned it here because if there’s no progress or if there’s request to revisit again in the future, I move clients to this list and add a Due Date to touch bases again.

You can also use Labels to mark them as not interested.

Introduction
This is my prospect list of all the clients I have reached out to, connected with, or referred to.

In each client’s card, I have the contact info written in the Description and Link to email thread, if it exists.

I use the Comment section for writing down notes during phone calls or meetings. This is great because it’s time stamped so I remember the date of discussion.

Negotiations
This is usually when we start discussing terms and proposals. I move clients from Introduction to Negotiations once discussions begin.

I continue using the Comment section to jot down notes and update it with the most recent proposal.

Contract Review
Once negotiations are done, I move the card to this list. I use the comments as a reference and then send deal terms to our legal team.

You can choose to also Attach contracts to the cards but I tend to keep those offline on my computer and have a folder system to organize my work and additional drafts. I’ll write up a post about this in the future.

Again, I use the Comment section to reference any changes in drafts or back and forths with the client. Gotta keep good documentation for future reference!

Contract Complete
After the final version of the contract is agreed to by both parties, it’s time to get it signed and move the card to this list.

My company uses an internal system to process contracts and this generates a tracking nubmer. I save this number in the Card because it will be used as reference for invoicing and to track the progress of the contract process.

Peep the markdown! Press Formatting Help for tips to stylize the description.

Account Integrated
The final step for me is to get the account fully set up. Each account will have their own reference number and I add this to the client’s card Description.

This is usually the final stage and the last stop of the account. From here, I can quickly see all my signed accounts with all their information and history.

I increased my productivity using Trello

Since implementing this system for myself, I no longer have to worry about status updates since I have everything in one place. And also, I can quickly reference any past discussions because of the all notes I written down in the comment section.

All in all, I keep my workflow in Trello and this has been a great way to stay organized.

This workflow can be adjusted to fit any role and I hope I was able to inspire you to give Trello a go!