I’ve been reading a lot lately about the death of this and that in “sales”. That traditional sales methods like cold calls, networking, waiting to see someone and handwritten notes are tactics of the past. I’ve also been reading that social selling (on LinkedIn for example), inbound marketing and other technology-enabled communication channels are the only way to go. Yet, this weekend I read that sales professionals rely too heavily on technology and in particular email. To me, it’s seems the experts can’t agree, and often give conflicting—if not confusing—advice. So, what should we—as business development professionals—believe?
The truth is, business development is not one-size-fits-all. In every industry and for every type of professional, there is a slightly different approach. How a lead reacts to a certain type of outreach, how guarded or open they are on the phone, their body language in face-to-face-meetings, and/or their willingness to accept your solution is often due to a prospect’s level of tech-savviness, business style, position, tenure and confidence as well as other demo- and psycho-graphic factors. It also has everything to do with your understanding of, and approach to, the business development process in your industry.
Above all, there is no magic bullet. If you think there is a quick path to super-stardom in sales, you are sadly mistaken and probably in the wrong line of work.
Business development is hard work. It can be a grinding road pocked full of rejection. Never be fooled about that. Instead, use it as fuel; let it be your motivator and guiding light.
Being a top producer on a consistent basis is a daunting task day in and day out. “Focus,” “patience” and “hustle” should always be your watchwords. And those who are hunters of not only prospects, but also of knowledge, who stay steady at the wheel and put in the right effort all the time, will be richly rewarded mentally, professionally and monetarily
Beyond that, a sound business development approach should always include these key fundamentals:
- Know yourself as a sales professional inside and out; capitalize on your strengths, and recognize your weaknesses as opportunities for growth
- Know your firm, and understand the competitive landscape
- Understand your prospects and their pain, and always be armed with solutions
- Be holistic and strategic in your outbound and inbound prospecting efforts
- Thoroughly follow up every lead that comes your way, regardless of the source
- Don’t forsake the tried-and-true nor fail to take advantage of new technology
- Always follow the three P’s: Be persistent, be polite and be professional.
Lastly, don’t just give a wink and a nod to these principles, live by them. And be prepared to not only meet your goals, but exceed them.