Business Development – Sell Less Win More
Business development is a complex issue but one all businesses struggle with regardless of how established they are. Business development sales people can command large salaries and huge commissions and the best ones are worth every penny. However, while some people are natural sales people, the majority of us find the whole subject a challenging one; a fact underlined by the huge market for sales & marketing related books. There are many different opinions on business development sales techniques but in most situations the sales process will begin with a meeting and so this article concentrates on how to achieve this.
Setting up the meeting
In many situations, the best opportunity for setting up an initial meeting will come from a personal point of contact – a call, an email or a face to face encounter (perhaps at a networking event). To get the most from these situations, you should think about 3 things:-
- Reason not Random.
- Defining value from your prospects point of view.
- Enable a decision whether to meet – or not.
- Reason Not Random
Identifying who you should call, email or approach for a new meeting has a higher rate of success if this approach isn’t done on a random basis. Rather, attention should be focused on people who will be more receptive to the approach and of whom the following may be true:-
- A “trigger event” has happened for the prospect that means your product or service will be attractive to them.
- The potential revenue opportunity is big for them.
- They show evidence of problems/needs that you can solve/fulfill.
- You have a mutual contact who can make a referral.
- You’ve done good work for people or companies like them.
- Defining Value from your Prospects Point of View
It is hard enough to get a foot in the door and so any marginal success shouldn’t be let down by poor preparation. Of key importance is sowing the seed that it would be good/worthwhile meeting with you. Concentrate on adding ‘Value’ with people you haven’t met yet. Before you pick up the phone / write your email / approach someone at an event it is worth taking time to think about:-
- Issues – What would the prospect have to be experiencing to want your product or service?
- Evidence – How, specifically, are the issues showing up in their business?
- Impact – What is it costing them to operate with these issues?
- Enable a Decision; To meet, or not to Meet – that is the question?
There is a certain amount of, at best, suspicion and, at worst, stigma, around the business development prospecting call, email or more recently the LinkedIn connection! It is very easy for the Prospect to just see the purpose of the approach is to get a meeting. This is not healthy start to any relationship as the power in any meeting or further negotiation will always reside with the party that feels they have done the other a favour in granting the meeting. To re- balance the dynamic a better purpose of a prospecting call (or email or conversation) is too determine the question, ‘Should we be talking’? This is a more equitable starting point with a mutual benefit being established at the outset. If the answer is yes at this point move on to the question, ‘When would you like to schedule this.’
To help you think this through in practice it is worth bearing in mind 4 simple points:-
- End in mind – At the end of this interaction with you, what do you want them to decide? (my suggestion “Should we be talking?”)
- Questions – What questions do you want to ask? What questions might they ask you? How will you respond?
- Yellow Lights – What are the possible doubts, concerns, or objections? How will you respond?
- Opening Statements – What will you say in the first 15 seconds to create interest? What is your hypothesis for creating business value?
Opening statements – sample scripts
Whilst each of the 4 points above are key considerations chief amongst them is probably point 4 as the first few seconds of any interaction can make or break the whole sales process. Everyone’s style is different and your personality should come through but there are 6 components to a successful initial contact which needs to built into any sales pitch. These are:-
- Affinity – We have a common/similar client/contact.
- Problem – Our common client/contact was experiencing this (Problem)
- Evidence – This problem showed up as (Evidence).
- Impact – The result of this problem led to (Impact on the business)
- Result – They took a different approach which (Result)
- Impact – This new approach led to (Impact)
To help put this into practice below are two example templates which we have created. The first is for the initial introduction and the second is for the push back that will inevitably come.
Sample script for client introduction
“Hello my name is ______, I am a _____from _______. The reason for my call is that as I was thinking about your organisation it occurred to me it had similarities to some of my other clients. They were experiencing (PROBLEM) which showed up as (EVIDENCE). This was resulting in (IMPACT)
By taking a different approach they were able to (RESULT) that led to (IMPACT)
I am not suggesting that you have the same issues but I thought it might be worth meeting and sharing our insight which you can test against your situation, and decide whether this is worthy of further investigation.”
Script in response to “we have it covered”
“That’s good to know. It’s a complex area. I wonder if it would still be worth our meeting. I would be very interested in hearing your approach and how you have overcome the challenges. I would also be very happy to share our insights and between us we might establish what is best practice in this area”
Generating sales is not a consequence of luck. There is a science to business development and the sales meeting. Hundreds of meetings over may years have taught me that there is no silver bullet and you do get out what you put in – which is often a lot of knock backs and hard work along the way. This article is by no means an exhaustive guide and does not guarantee success every time. But thinking about things from your Prospect’s perspective and flipping the sell around to ask ,’Should we be talking?’, rather than, ‘We should be talking!’ is a positive position to start any new relationship from.
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