The Beginning of a New Series
My goal is to eventually become a voice amongst business development professionals. I think about who I would take advice from and I know that I have to do a few things to earn that right:
- Provide a unique insight into practices that will without a doubt produce real results for sales, marketing and business development professionals
- Have a track record for success in my own right that is both aspirational and reproduce-able across any b2b industry
- Show my work and provide "real world" cases of success and implementation of key strategies
Consider this the overview and all of the following blog posts in this series will dive into great detail on foundational business development practices and explain each channel in this imaginary tool belt.
The Power Position
Who are you? I like to pull in a great analogy here. I come from a family of car sales people as far back as my grandfather. In a great economy on a car lot that has a great marketing program and consistent customer traffic, even the worst sales person can make a decent living. They become more of a cog in the machine and roll through the motions set by management. As the economy took a dive and the opportunity for selling a car decreased, these sales people were the first to go. They couldn't develop their own clients and get repeat customers. They were short-sighted in their role and believed it was their employer's job to get people to the car lot and maintain the relationship with their customers. The sales people that maintained personal relationships with their clients and generated their own leads could still maintain enough sales monthly to make or exceed quotas and they thrive even in today's economy.
There is power in becoming self-reliant. Once you become a self-sufficient sales person, you begin to become a powerful business developer. These people have the most value to companies and can write their own ticket. More often than not, a business developer is constantly in demand and rarely has to look for employment. They are usually changing companies because a better offer was made to acquire them. These people are self-promoters and highly social. Typically they put their career ahead of almost everything and don't need to look outwardly for motivation to become better at their job.
Again I pose the question, "Who are you?" I see myself as a business developer who has little reliance on employers to drive opportunities for success. If you are or aspire to be in a similar position, then I hope you continue to read these posts and hone your skills as a powerful force in your company.
What is Your Value?
In all of my years in business development, I've learned that one thing remains overwhelmingly consistent...VALUE in the relationship. You must constantly prove your value to the company you work for. Value is the basis for all relationships. If there is no value in a relationship for you, then it is likely that you will leave that relationship. This is true of personal relationships, business relationships and relationships with companies. Providing value in some form is the most important element in developing a client relationship.
Both sales and marketing must reinforce and communicate to customers and prospects the value of a relationship with your company. Consistency in communication is a vital ingredient in successfully engaging new customers. Every communication must provide additional value at each stage in the relationship. That value must be delivered even after the close and continually reinforced by front line staff, sales, billing, support and any other department that touches a customer. This value will then be communicated in the form of referrals to potential new customers for your business. The relationships between sales, marketing and operations are all essential to acquiring and keeping customers. Depending on the size of your business, these functions could be consolidated or be very separate departments with a hierarchy of staff for each.
Tools of the Trade
Whatever tools you use, make sure that each is consistent with all of your communications with customers and prospects. Social media is considered new and is a great tool for reaching top business professionals in key industries that could be prospects for your business. I believe it is being used incorrectly by even the most recognized and progressive brands. Social media is a great opportunity to stay in front of influencers and decision-makers consistently, but it is also a tool that can be used incorrectly to destroy opportunities to develop future business. More familiar channels such as telemarketing, direct sales, direct mail, trade shows, networking events, email and online are all great, but used without clear direction and inconsistently can do more harm than good and actually damage your program and tarnish your reputation.
As my career has progressed, my focus today is with mobile and email. These are great channels for maintaining relationships with customers, especially if your business requires ongoing knowledge of your service or product by your customer base. Maintaining long-term interest by subscribers can be difficult if you struggle to find content. As deliverability becomes more and more difficult to maintain, we are forced into sending to our email database on a regular and consistent basis. Getting ahead of your deployment schedule can be time consuming, but the long-term payoff is well worth the effort. mobileStorm's Digital Marketing Blog is a great resource for developing your email marketing expertise.
Trade shows can be costly, but they can be effective in driving valuable leads and ultimately business. Standing out at these shows requires creativity, energetic sales reps, gimmicks, materials, expensive booths, planning, travel and other things that cost time and money. Effectively driving leads through trade shows requires planning, budgets and time.
For many companies, the tactics above may be luxuries that cannot be afforded. Partnerships with vendors, bypassing the need for booth space and making the most of resources are ways to decrease the expense and increase sales efficiencies. Finding a program that works financially and within the bandwidth of current staff and resources is a focus that I have incredible expertise. Leveraging relationships and planning can give prospects the impression that your company spends large amounts of money on sales and marketing when in fact your company is very cost-effective in its efforts.
Moving Ahead As we move ahead, I want you to make your own decisions. Take a look at my background on LinkedIn. Follow me on Twitter. Even this blog is meant to drive lead generation. If you feel that I am practicing what I preach, then participate with me. Leave comments, ask questions and reach out. I am happy to take criticism, listen and share ideas. Stay tuned for the next post.