How to Take the Pressure Out of Business Development

One of the main reasons why salespeople fail in sales is their lack of attention to business development. Business development is integral to sales success yet many salespeople I have spoken to avoid or put minimal effort into prospecting activities. This in my opinion borders on sales call reluctance.

What is business development?

• Business development is about developing new business with both potential and existing clients
• A sale rarely happens on the first meeting. It requires multiple and varying touch points such as the phone, social media and email over a period of time
• Business development needs to be consistently implemented to maximize new sales opportunities and to create sales growth.

Creating new sales opportunities

The less you know about a potential client the more difficult it is to succeed in getting a meeting. Your targeted clients can be divided into:

• No Information – you know nothing about the organization and have no contacts
• Limited Information – you have some information about the organization but haven’t developed any contacts.

Strategies to connect with potential clients you have never contacted

• Use social media to gain information that you could use
• Phone direct once you have developed your value statement
• Use 6 degrees of separation – who knows who within your circle of influence who knows the potential client?

The ‘cold’ call

The term ‘cold’ has been used in sales for decades and conjures false thoughts and feelings. There is nothing cold about contacting a prospective client for the first time. It’s new but not cold so could I suggest you replace ‘cold’ with ‘new?’ Words impact on how we feel.

Words impact on how we feel

Salespeople often struggle and can become mentally immobilized when calling a potential client because:

• They put too much pressure on themselves to make the appointment
• They become self-centered instead of focusing on the client
• They become fearful of saying the wrong thing
• They have a push instead of a pull mindset
• They start selling when the client isn’t in the process of buying
• They use words and phrases commonly used by most salespeople
• They try to take short cuts.

Salespeople often start by talking about themselves and their company. For example, “The reason for calling is I’d like to set up an appointment to introduce myself and tell you about our new product/service”.

The attention needs to be on what is in it for the potential client. This is done by stating value from their perspective and can be measured. A value statement can be tangible and/or intangible that lets the potential client know what they can expect when using your product/service. Intangible value is not easy to measure, for example lower risk, sense of well-being and trust. Measures can be expressed as a percentage, timeframe, or in financial terms.

Measures can be expressed as a percentage, timeframe, or in financial terms.

For example, “We completed a project recently with a company of your size and reduced their overheads by 20% without losing one employee. Would you be interested in how we did this?”

Words that communicate value are and not limited to:

Improve, increase, reduce, downtime, productivity, operating cost, turnaround, maximize, minimize, downtime, save, eliminate, enhance, cut, gain and profit.

Success in business development requires persistence and consistency using a variety of touch points whilst focusing on stating value from the client’s perspective. This will provide you with the greatest opportunity to secure an initial meaningful conversation and a meeting.

Business Development – Solve Your Problems Before They Become Problems

Through 35 years of service to companies ranging in size from start-ups to the Fortune 50 I’ve found that the one thread binding them all together is the never ending pursuit of a greater return on the money they spend on business development. Some give up and accept mediocrity thinking that’s the best they can do. Others have obtained a higher level of return but know they could do better if only… They’ve all spent time and money treating symptoms with processes, training and tools that represent a generic approach that tries to address the most common problems of the most common companies. They fall prey to the latest management fads but nothing seems to last beyond the initial euphoria of something new. Like a child with a new toy, once the shine wears off things pretty much return to the same old patterns and process with the same old problems.

Often the reason companies find themselves in this never ending quagmire is that no one ever thinks of examining the fundamentals or bothers to identify the root cause of their dissatisfaction. More often than not the real reason for the dissatisfaction is that the company has forgotten why it exists. It was never instilled in the staff and was never embraced as a way of life.

Every business is built on three basic cornerstones: the core (which consists of all the fundamentals like mission, vision and values), the people, and the systems, processes and tools necessary to enable the people to accomplish those items in the core. When operating in unison the company is in for a smooth ride. Now imagine the three cornerstones form a wheel. It’s easy to see that if any one of the three is out of alignment, the ride is no longer smooth.

To bring this back to business and, in particular, business development, every decision made or action taken, that doesn’t reflect the business core, forces the wheel out of alignment. It follows that if an account rep doesn’t really know the company’s mission, vision and values, and if they don’t know the company’s goals or their place in achieving those goals you may end up pursuing an opportunity that you don’t really understand. It won’t really fit and the problems associated with being in this position ripples throughout the organization.

How do you prevent falling into this trap, how do you stay focused? To start, from day one company fundamentals should be drilled into every employee and they have to become a living part of day-to-day life. The number one question that needs to be asked before committing to a business opportunity is “How will this opportunity put the company closer to living the mission, vision and values” followed by “how will this opportunity help us meet our current and future goals”?

Those opportunities that fit your model are worthy of your time and money; those that don’t open the door to trouble.

Would You Aim for a Business Development Manager’s Role?

The presence of an efficient business development manager is crucial to a business’ existence. It is one of the key roles of this age, that every business seeks to fill in, hiring a strategic planner, who can grow with the company. Those employed as the business development managers look after his/her team’s collective effort, looks for potential clients in the market, defines the target audience, and if needed, even redefines the company’s objectives.

These are top-level executives, who remain I contact with the management. Their ultimate goal is to create new business opportunities and ensure the company’s long- term growth. The term ‘business development’ can be described as an amalgamation of strategic planning, sales and marketing. Those holding more than 5 years of experience in sales can also be considered for this position. Besides, many leading firms consider MBAs to be hired as business development managers. Most commonly, those hailing from sales are seen heading for these career options. However, business development has a lot more than just sales, but the sales professionals are found suitable to fit in these jobs.

Job Description

  • Defining target audience and looking for potential clients
  • Preparing strategies to pitch the products to clients
  • Marking team’s collective efforts and keeping a checking on the lead generation
  • Representing the organization in the corporate events
  • Preparing monthly reports and analyzing the same
  • Providing essential data to the management
  • Taking essential steps for corporate associations
  • Identifying new sales opportunities
  • Working in coordination with other departments such as sales & marketing

Key elements for a business development manager’s role

For every business development manager, the following elements are of great significance.

Business Acumen

A business development manager can explore job opportunities in numerous sectors, including FMCG (Fast Moving Consume Goods), IT (Information Technology), Finance, Manufacturing, Consulting, and others. In any of these sectors, an understanding of the industry and the business is needed for the professional to possess. It will not just help him conveniently take on the role, but will also take the right decisions with an understanding of the business.

Management & Research

He plans as well as manages to take the business the next level. A professional serving as business development manager has to lead the team and direct it to the right path. For this, leadership and management are of great essence. Besides, research too is a major element for these professionals. They need to research well about the market, the prevailing trends, the customer’s requirements, and so on.

Strategic Planning

The business development managers are also involved in planning the campaigns to target the potential clients. They may even look for marketing and sales related data for the same.

Customer Service

Another major element remains the customer service. They need to ensure whether the customer their team is dealing with, is entirely satisfied with the services. They also need to constantly check on a crucial deal that has not been closed.

The Other Essential Details

In the recent years, the need to hire these professionals has been realized by most of the brands. They can explore the job offers from varied sectors as per their preferences and knowledge. However, some of the leading organizations they can aim to work with include Infosys, Deloitte, KPMG, Ernst & Young, Wipro Technologies, Cognizant, and many others. Further, these professionals can expect to earn Rs 578,392 per year in India.