Your business development process dictates your sales performance and your ultimate sales success.
So let’s start with the end in mind and work back.
Who do you actually want to be signing orders with?
Now, what would happen if you designed a business development process where you engaged with only those prospects that you really wanted to work with?
Those prospects where you knew you could deliver exceptional value…
Where the fit is near perfect…
And you and your business would be operating in your core space and field of excellence…
Now, let me ask you another question…
If you had to throw away half of the sales leads in your current sales pipeline – how would you feel?
Sure, of course, you get to select which 50% to ditch, but to do that you’d need to have absolute clarity on your Perfect Prospect Profile, specifically in order to use the go/no go criteria…
So now your sales pipeline is half the size it was, maybe smaller, but these are all people, businesses, decision makers you’d LOVE to work with.
Sales opportunities that would allow you to do your best work, and get paid well for doing it…
So, why aren’t more sales people doing this?
Being this selective….chucking out prospects that are a poor fit?
Why are sales people all across the globe still, everyday, punching sales leads into their CRM, polluting their sales lead base with poorly matched sales information (can’t really call them leads?)
What’s the Point?
Direct question – why even engage with sales prospects that are not a perfect match for you, your business, your products, your services, your values and your desired pricing and profit margins?
Because the up shot is almost guaranteed deep despair and prolonged financial stress, as well as untold pain and hard slog…
How many of the follwing are familiar to you?
Prospects who pick your brains and go cold when you send the sales proposal?
Sales prospects who get your prices then go somewhere cheaper, so your competitors win business you’ve set up, where you’ve educated the buyer, informed their decision making and fine tuned their solution…?
Situations where you’ve won the business but the customer proceeds to be a total pain to work with?
Or where you’ve won the business, delivered and then they raise an issue over costs, terms or deliverables…?
Or perhaps where the customer negotiates a volume prices but the volume never quite appears?
Perhaps it’s the prospect who says they’ll have a decision for you by Friday but never thinks to tell you what Friday in what month, year, decade, or even century?
Any of these sound familiar to you?
These, my friend, are a sign you’re fishing in totally the wrong pond.
And ….your business development process is broken!
Now, I’m not one to pile on the pain but…
Let’s consider this…
How many potential GREAT deals have you got to, or found out about, just that little bit too late to impact or to sign up?
How many times have you looked at your sales pipeline, your sales forecast, realised it far too skinny and then had to start new business development, but been stymied because you just don’t know what contacts/leads to call first?
When you’re faced with creating a long term sales forecast, how many times are you simply guessing, maybe using last month/year performance to forecast this month/year performance?
If you’ve answered yes to any of these then I think you know where I’m coming from…more leads in your sales pipeline doesn’t always mean you’re straight on to hit your sales target…
More often than not, more leads means that you’ve simply got to do more to sift the good stuff from the ‘what is this doing in here’ stuff…
Have you really got the time/interest/bandwidth to do that?
And any time that you’re sifting you’re not selling!
So, where do you want to be, a tight list of well qualified, in profile sales prospects that you really want to do business with or a massive lists of odds and more odds that you’ve got to sift through if you want to make target and keep your sales pipeline and sales forecast accurate and profitable?
So, how do you do it?
9 Key Points: Business Development Process To Do List
#1 Perfect Prospect Profile Only
Work with your Perfect Prospect Profile only.
Use the link above to find out more about how to build your PPP (perfect prospect profile)
Trying to work across, and sell into, too many sectors, trying to force a value fit and match solutions with needs where the links are tenuous is only going to slow down your business development process and put you back in the middle of the mud!
Get super comfortable in your PPP’s (Perfect Prospect Profile) industry.
Work hard to understand the challenges they face every single day.
Delve deep to understand their competitive position.
Get to know the key players, the influencers, the early adopters, the industry torch bearers.
Sign up to their industry publications – follow the spokespeople in the sector, look at their legislation, their CSR, the international space….get super curious about their world…
#3 Build Your Value Proposition
Make it crystal clear.
Blindly obvious for your PPP to see why he should buy from you.
And I don’t mean be the cheapest.
In fact, be the most expensive then spend your time creating such value that the price won’t matter.
There’s more information in the link above
#4 Return On Investment
Help your PPP see how your solution gives him a clear ROI, and over what time period.
Some firms look also at Return on Time (ROT)
Remember these payback measures are not just about cost and time, there are other factors.Payback comes in all forms – status, CSR, ethics, first adopter, better team working, less stress…check out this link here from HBR about Factors that Influence B2B Sales
#5 Don’t Try to Sell
Not in the first instance anyway.
Create organisational charts for key firms and key decision makers, influencers, stakeholders.
Understand the landscape before you jump in.
Read the white papers, attend the networking events, go to their industry shows, follow their social media, comment on their posts adding meaningful content.
Maybe publish your own content. Maybe some clients wins, perhaps a case study.
Get on their radar, so that when you do make contact, you’re a known entity…
#6 Know Your Sales Recipe
Hit the link above to find out all about your Sales Recipe, because once you have this in the mix of your PPP’s you’ve just created a magnificent and never ending sales ATM!
#7 Get Introduced Around
Adopt a policy of not leaving a live decision maker conversation without a referral or an introduction, or the promise of one.
If you can’t get a sale on every call, and you probably can’t, get the very next best thing…and introduction to your next sales opportunity.
You can check out how to do this here – How to Ask, and Get, a Sales Referral and Introduction.
#8 Be Consistent
Consistent in your dialing, in your follow up, in getting proposals out on time, in spending time researching and reaching out.
Consistency wins every time.
Even the most highly skilled sales person in the world with struggle if the daily grind’s not taking place.
I’ve spoken about this here – might be worth a read because when you’re looking to get super well known and successful in a specific sector you’ve severely limited your chances to mess up and recover sufficiently to carry on.
In the article I call about how sales performance improvement is more about your habits than your skills or your knowledge, check it out – Habit Beats Knowledge
#9 Be Great at Selling
I’m not talking about being a megaphone on legs, broadcasting to anyone who’ll listen to you…
I mean get curious about everything.
Listen far more than you’d ever dream of talking.
Ask amazing questions.
Give the prospect time to reflect.
Build the relationship don’t go for the kill too early, you’ll leave cash on the table and your reputation will suffer.
Value the relationship above the sale.
Seek to partner and not supply.
Be prepared to walk away when the business isn’t good business any more.
#10 Never be Afraid to Change Your Mind
A man who can change his mind can change anything.
Yesterday’s great prospect might be today’s disaster.
Respect yourself enough to cut your loses and move on.
#11 Don’t Waste Time
Your’s or anyone else’s time.
If the fit’s not there, acknowledge and agree than the wins wouldn’t be big enough or good enough and move on.
It’s Your Business Development Process
Continually refine it.
It’s your revenue and profit engine.
It might look, feel, work slightly different to others around you but the gift is that it works for you, when you want, how you want, at the speed you want.
Building the ultimate business development process is a time consuming feat, tech changes means you can automate some things.
Not all things that can be automated should be automated, but that’s for you to think about as you need.
New techniques come around, and it’s great for you to test these.
But be scientific about it. If you’ve worked out your Sales Recipe then you’ll know within a very short space of time if a new technique is helping or hindering your close rate.
Learn from everyone you meet.
Listen more than you talk.
Work on your Business Development Process like it really, really matters, because it does.