Category Archives: Business Development

These blogs focus on business development services we offer and what we’d recommend for you.

Three things you might want to consider between Christmas and New Year

I think that we all agree that Christmas this year is not going to be as we are used to. Just like the rest of our lives through the pandemic, we will need to make do with a quieter Christmas. People I speak to are divided between those who are looking forward to having a quiet time and those who can’t wait for Christmas 2021…

Wherever you are on this, you are likely to have a bit more time for resting and recreation between Christmas and New Year. Just in case you get to a point where you are in need of some constructive thinking in the holidays, I thought I would share some great lessons I learnt this year whilst reading John Jantsch’s book, The Referral Engine.

The book explains how to create an effective referral system through focusing on key elements within your organisation. It made a big difference to our business in terms of customer satisfaction, increased referrals, and retention. Here are the main elements to consider:

  • Make your company the one people are speaking about: People don’t talk about boring products and they certainly don’t talk about boring companies.’’  John Jantsch, The Referral Engine

How can you make your company interesting? Here are a few ideas to consider:

  1. Come up with a new product or innovation which will make your company stand out against the competition.  This can be a small thing that makes a difference to your client like offering some training or best practice, so they get more out of your product.
  2. Write your business story: consider how it all started and what really matters to you and the rest of the team.  People buy from people and your story can make a difference to their buying decision.
  3. Identify the elements that define your business and make you different. Things to consider are your unique process or approach to doing business as well as your core strategy.
  •  Everyone is in Customer Service: I believe marketing, sales and customer service falls to everyone in your organisation. Widely referred businesses seem to find ways to empower everyone to create, deliver, mend and extend the total customer experience’. John Jantsch, The Referral Engine

In order to achieve this level of engagement, the book suggests that you consider ways of changing your team culture. Consider what mechanism, training and mind-set is necessary to ensure everyone in the company is delivering the right attitude which is aligned with your vision and mission statement. A few examples include

  1. Share your vision and mission with the team.
  2. Promote your company values in internal meetings. Ask your team how they relate to them.
  3. Share company performance figures and put together goals that matter to everyone.
  4. Ensure you are clear on the type of people you want to work in the organisation.

Create a customer network: ‘…It is not enough to simply provide a good product or service, that’s probably the minimum of what is expected. Your marketing, sales, content and service must all converge in a systematic fashion to move your customers through the referral lifecycle of know, like, trust, buy, repeat and refer.’ John Jantsch, The Referral Engine

Whilst referral marketing is recognised as a key marketing approach, you should consider how many referrals you get from your own customers. If you feel you could do better in this, there are a few key things to consider:

  1. Figure out a way to introduce referrals as a key element of your relationship with new clients. Make sure it fits with your brand and culture.
  2. Exceed your customers’ expectations; surprise, and delight them.
  3. Work out an appropriate way to reward your customers for referrals.
  4. Equip your team with tools and processes to make referring your business easy.

I hope you have a lovely break and think this should keep you busy over a few constructive sessions if you so wish. I hope you can then take it further and introduce some changes to your organisation.

Whatever you decide, to have the full affect, I recommend that you put the Referral Engine on your Christmas list this year: it is one of the best business books I have ever read.

Top 5 tips for business growth in 2021

Whilst 2020 has not been what we planned for, for many, 2021 needs to be a year of significant growth if we are to return to where we were pre-pandemic. This time of year, is traditionally a time to gather your plans for new campaigns launched in the new year. This week, we wanted to offer you our top tips for business growth:

Tip #1CHOOSE THE RIGHT MARKETING TOOLS TO SUPPORT YOUR MESSAGE

A successful campaign needs a specific approach and message which are relevant to the issues that you wish to solve. As part of this process, you will decide which will be your target markets and then choose the appropriate tools.

We are not suggesting that you have to choose one marketing tool only; you can run a number of campaigns using different tools and tactics. In many ways, the tools and tactics you use are all relevant as long as they appeal to your target markets and convey your message correctly.

Tip #2: HAVE A CLEAR SALES PROCESS:

How many times have you been told that selling is not rocket science? Whilst we agree that you should keep things reasonably simple, don’t be too simplistic.  A clear process that everyone works to, can help streamline your process and increase productivity and success. Some things to consider are:

  • Speed of response to enquiry
  • Accuracy in identifying needs
  • Demonstrating your capabilities
  • Packages and standardisation of products
  • Your CRM and automation tools
  • Relationship building

Tip # 3: FOLLOW UP, FOLLOW UP, FOLLOW UP

One of our favourite quotes demonstrating this is from Wanda Alan, who wrote Follow Up Sales Strategies. She said that 80% of sales are made between the 5th and 12th contact, yet most salespeople only make three follow up calls or less. The number of contacts are irrelevant; what matters is that you make as many as it takes to get a definitive answer.

Against popular belief, prospects normally appreciate your follow up as long as it is done in a polite and appropriate manner. Timelines will depend on your product and sales cycle, but we have been known to keep in touch with people for several years before they eventually became clients. Don’t give up: believe in your product and remember that you are talking to people who expressed an interest in your company.

Tip # 4: UNDERSTAND YOUR PROSPECTS

When we get frustrated with following up, we take a deep breath and remember some research undertaken by DISC which identified that only around 35% of the population make decisions quickly.  The remainder still like to take their time but, importantly, do make buying decisions eventually. To help you use this in practice, consider your prospects’ buying persona, of which there are four:

  1. The Decisive: These buyers have a clear picture in their mind of which results they want. They value rapid action so will typically make quick decisions if they feel your solution is right.
  2. The Interactive: These buyers want to shape events and enjoy “getting their way” when it comes to negotiations or buying something. They typically make quick buying decisions, particularly when they feel a sense of connection with you.
  3. The Stabiliser. These buyers are more passive and introverted and interested in the how and why of a solution. Their primary interests are in maintaining stability, so they prefer to “take their time” and weigh up all options and outcomes before making a decision.
  4. The Conscientious: These buyers are also more passive and introverted. They too take a much more detailed and accuracy-based approach to their buying habits. Without sufficient data to prove any statements made to them, you will fail to achieve their buy-in.

Tip # 5: TEST AND MEASURE

Once you are clear on your message and campaign tools, start experimenting to see how you get your message across best. This will ensure that you get a better return from your campaign. Here are a few things to consider:

  1. Try a number of platforms to promote your message
  2. Segment your data and send smaller campaigns to see which get better engagement
  3. Try to use new tactics you have not used before

All of the above are great ways to test, but the key thing is to measure your results carefully to ensure you understand what works best at the moment. One more thing to remember is to be realistic and give it time and some repetition to ensure you are being heard.

We hope you have found this useful. Should you want more, we have created a small series of targetted eBooks, designed to help you put together a successful sales process from lead generation to conversion. Click here to download them from our website.

Planning in the age of uncertainty

Here is a wonderful quote from J.R.R. Tolkien which is particularly apt for the current environment: ‘It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near one.’

Planning is recommended by experts in all walks of life as a way to support business growth but what happens if planning becomes very difficult due to uncertainty, as we are experiencing at the moment? Do you abandon it all together? I believe that you should always have a plan in place, covering short and long term, whilst not forgetting the dragons nearby. Here are five tips I have collected for you to consider:

  1. A tip from Oxbridge Academy Blog:

Focus on what you can control: You have to accept that some things are completely out of your control. For example, you cannot control most of the effects that the coronavirus has had on your everyday life. While accepting the things that you cannot control, you should focus on controlling the things that you can. This can include maintaining a positive attitude, controlling your spending habits, or deciding to learn something new. In the face of a difficult situation, you may need more determination than ever before to work on yourself and get through the tough times. 

  • A tip from Life Lanes:

Have “go-to” people who can help you every step of the way. Having people you can reach to in times of change can get you through even the most uncertain of times. You do not need to know everything. You just need to know people and organizations you can trust to fill in the gaps for what you do not know.

  • A tip from Management Centre:

Use scenario planning instead of traditional goal setting: Scenario planning can get you outside the normal strategic planning box by encouraging you to think about multiple futures and how these futures would impact on what you would need to deliver your mission. They may even, if profound enough, encourage you to change or adapt your mission.

  • A tip from Great Performance:

Prepare yourself for various possibilities: The most challenging part of being uncertain is the inability to feel in control. Being human, we want to know how things will go so as to be comfortable. Uncertainty takes this from us. Things change too fast for us to experience this. Therefore, instead of expecting specific outcomes from life, it makes more sense to simply prepare yourself for various possibilities. For example, you can make lists of the activities that you will perform in case things go one way or another. One of the characteristics of an uncertain future is luck. This is when things go exactly as you desired. It is important to know that luck happens when preparation and opportunity meet.

  • A tip from Your Business Development team:

Always be selling: Planning for growth is one of the key things that will make a difference to your future as a business. Creating new business and improving your sales conversion are born from a structured process which you can set up and follow in any environment. This process takes time so use the downtime to plan and start conversations with people in your target market. This means that when things move forward you will be first in line for consideration.

I hope you have found some inspiration in our Blog today. If you are looking to create a sales process or strategy, we might be able to help you. Click here to find out more or get in touch to discuss your specific circumstances.

Our lead generation funnel

What is sales conversion support and why is it helpful?

When working on business development strategy with clients, we often come across companies who struggle to define their conversion rate. Three years ago, I wrote a blog about this which I think is still spot on. The key argument I was making is that getting both lead generation and lead conversion right, is the key to the success of any lead generation strategy. There is little point in generating leads if you cannot convert them and this can often result in wasted budgets.

To understand the problems better, take a look at the info graphic above. If you are using a lead generation agency to support your sales, you will find that most of them will support stages 1-2 of the funnel above leaving you and your team to complete stage 3. This often results in reduced return on your investment due to lack of conversion. which is why so many companies initiate lead generation campaigns which never get concluded leaving them feeling disappointed and frustrated.

As with other problems, explaining it can be easier than solving it because the solution needs to be specific and complex. We believe that you need to consider three key questions here:

  1. How much do you know about your prospect and their issues? Knowledge is power and really helps converting sales because it highlights where the opportunity lies as well as builds a good relationship. People are very keen to talk about themselves and their needs yet so many times we forget to ask the questions or dig a bit deeper to make sure we understand. Sometimes the answer is to pick up the phone and ask more questions or book a time to do so.
  • How detailed is your follow up process? Many people find follow up difficult because they are worried they will annoy the prospect or appear desperate. If you changed the word ‘follow up’ to ‘relationship development’ that might help you understand how important it is. The key to doing it well is to break it down to small goals and outcomes and then practice a lot. Still, this can be easier said than done and sometimes, another pair of eyes is required to make this work.
  • Does your CRM support this activity well? Most companies use a CRM system to record their business development work but getting this process right is difficult and time consuming. A big part of the follow up process is about booking the next conversation and documenting your new knowledge which makes the CRM work very important. To make it work you need to ensure the CRM process mirrors your sales process and that the team is clear on what needs to be done.

Like I said, it is easier to describe why conversion is difficult to affect than improve it. But fear not, at YBDT we approach things differently because we understand that new leads are often very initial and require a structured nurturing process to yield a sale. We offer our clients a more strategic approach that supports them throughout the sales process. You can read more about it here.

First impressions matter but they are only the start…

I am currently reading a great marketing book by Richard Shotton called The Choice Factory. In it, he talks about research into first impressions and how important they are to get right. Through examining behaviour research, Shotton develops the well-known phrase, “First impressions matter,” to explain that Brands are often associated with one characteristic which colours the rest of the beliefs consumers hold about them. The reason first impressions are so important, is because they often form the initial belief which then affects our relationship with the Brand forever.

The way I see it is, if we create a bad impression, we can put a prospect off our company for life but if we create a good impression, it is only the start of the relationship. As a Sales Director, you need to ensure that:

  • You and your team always create a good impression when you speak with a new prospect
  • Once you have had an initial conversation you need to follow it up in an appropriate way

The first action above is important to all businesses across all industries and requires planning, processes and training. The second action, however, is particularly important to companies who sell high value services and products. This is because the length and complexity of the sales process have a direct correlation to the cost and complexity of the product you sell.

If you are looking to grow your business in an effective manner, you need to develop a funnelling process which includes the following steps:

  1. Creating an initial interest = identifying leads
  2. Identifying interest and clarifying time scales= identifying prospects
  3. Following up and nurturing the prospects= converting to customers

Having worked with many clients to create leads and build a pipeline of prospects, we find that most companies struggle with the third stage and this is because the follow up process is difficult to define, control and manage. To improve this, we recommend that you consider the following elements:

  • Identify what you still need to find out about your prospect and take steps to close this gap. This can be done through looking at their website and LinkedIn profile or by speaking to the prospect directly using prepared questions.
  • Understand the prospect’s personality type and work out how to best communicate with them. You can read more about buying profiles in our previous Blog, here.
  • Agree a timeline for further communication and a point of purchase or review which you are aiming towards.
  • Break the process down into small goals that you plan for each communication point. Things like, finding out where the project is and understanding who else is involved; other ways in which you might be able to help can be useful steps in building a relationship.
  • Ensure that you are always checking if your contact is welcome and appropriate.
  • Push for a definitive answer where possible so you are not pursuing a false opportunity and inaccurately inflating your pipeline.

We hope this is helpful in supporting improved lead conversion and increased overall sales revenue. Having said that, creating the correct follow up process is not easy and most companies I come across get it wrong in some way.

As follow up is a big part of what we do, we have developed some good insights which we will be happy to share with you. Get in touch to discuss your specific requirements.

Post lockdown working environment: has the sales process changed forever?

As we are living in times of tremendous change and uncertainty, I thought I would look for a quote from Deepak Chopra, My favourite change and transformation man. Hope you like this one:

“Simply with a change of mind you can change your life.”

One of the big changes we have all had to adapt to in the workplace, is the lack of face to face meetings. As a result, most people are now used to managing their meetings on virtual platforms. In many ways this has been a revelation showing that travel can be reduced making our working week much more productive.

This change has had a big impact on the sales process, particularly for high value sales. Salespeople typically spend 2-3 days of their week on the road, networking and meeting prospects to build strong relationships and promote sales. Face to face communication is considered an important factor in most sales processes offering great opportunities to get to know people. The tactile feeling you get from having lunch with a client or visiting a prospect’s site is hard to duplicate online.

Another element that differentiates sales activity is that it is not necessarily meant to be productive from a tick box perspective. Whilst your salesperson might be working long hours and running around, a lot of what they do is prospective as that is the nature of the job, particularly if they are developing new business. Current limitations mean that most of this activity is either postponed or undertaken online and that takes getting used to.

A lot has been written about how to adapt your sale style to suit online meetings and I think it is important to spend some time reading and reflecting about this. Here are a few important elements to consider when preparing for a virtual sales meeting:

Preparation:

  1. Make sure you have a reliable Wi-Fi connection at your office
  2. Consider what people can see in the background
  3. Dress appropriately
  4. Do your research
  5. Prepare slides to manage the meeting
  6. Be clear on your goals

In the meeting itself:

  1. Always appear engaged, smile and nod
  2. Look at the people you are talking to
  3. Allow time for questions and feedback
  4. Agree next steps and book the next meeting

After the meeting:

  1. Email all information required
  2. Send the next meeting invitation
  3. Follow up with the key decision maker for their feedback
  4. Make sure you are all on the same page

Going back to the quote from Deepak Chopra, the most important thing to manage now is your sales team’s mindset. If you can maintain a ‘can do’ attitude, you will get better results quicker. I do not see the sales process changing forever but I do think that, in the post pandemic world, virtual meetings are going to be more popular so learning to manage them is time well spent.

Where do you see selling going in the near- and long-term future?

Just in case you need support with your sales operation, we have a new service designed to support your sales kickstart as you are bouncing back from lockdown. You can read more about it here then give us a call to arrange your free target market workshop to kickstart your sales strategy.

Are your salespeople up for the challenge?

You can always count on Brian Tracy to provide a good quote when it comes to sales success; how about this one, ‘Keep yourself positive, cheerful and goal orientated. Sales success is 80% attitude and only 20% aptitude.’

What I love about sales quotes, is that they make everything sound very simple and easy. In reality, achieving sales success can be hard work. I do agree with Brian Tracy that attitude and aptitude are the two main components to consider if you are looking to improve your sales success. Whilst there are many things to consider, these are the key elements in my opinion:

Attitude:

  • Poor attention to details: When it comes to new business, details are essential to progress the sale. Appearing too pushy, closing too soon, or trying to promote the wrong solution can all result in a sale not going ahead.
  • Lack of empathy: A successful sales process must include developing trust, and empathy is a big part of that.
  • Lack of enterprise: Working on business development tends to bring up challenges regularly which require rapid response and creativity. Note that sometime the problem can be related to your management style rather than your staff.
  • Lack of ambition: People who want a regular 9:00-5:00 job should not become salespeople. You want your team to have fire in their bellies, always looking to have more (money, training, responsibility, products, territory)

Aptitude:

  • Poor communication skills: This is not so much about verbal communication but about written communication and presentation style which can sometimes get in the way of a sale.
  • Lack of processes and systems: Boring as it might sound, a well-designed sales process can be the difference between success and failure. The more defined processes and clear systems you have, the easier it becomes for your sales team to focus on selling.
  • Lack of clear strategy: If you have not looked at your strategy in a while, please make sure you do. Without a strategy, progress will be slow and measurement almost impossible.
  • Lack of organisation skills: Keeping on top of a sales funnel and pipeline takes some organisation. Sales is one of those jobs where you need to multitask to ensure that you are always moving forward.

An important thing to remember is that aptitude is easier to train and fix, whilst changing someone’s attitude is harder. The thing with attitude is that it is forever changing; people can be fantastic sometimes and struggle at other times. This is particularly true when it comes to hard times and rapid change, both of which are very prevalent at the moment. If you are starting to bring your sales team back from furlough, you will need to make sure that you are paying attention to their frame of mind and attitude, ensuring you give them the right support.

What can you do to make this happen? Well, because we are a very helpful company, we decided to develop a new service designed to support your sales kickstart as you are bouncing back from lockdown. You can read more about it here then give us a call to arrange your free target market workshop to kickstart your sales strategy.

Turning on your sales might not be as easy as you think…

I think it is safe to say that we have all spent some time at home recently. Some people have been working from their home office, others were furloughed and might now be coming back to work. The government has been promoting their lockdown exit plan which is designed to move the economy forward and get us back to work where possible; this means different things to different people but in my world, it means that we all have to get back to selling.

The Global Customer Growth and Innovation Evangelist, Tiffani Bove rightly said that, ‘How you sell matters, what you process matters. But how your customers feel when they engage with you matters most’. This means that sales are difficult to just turn on because timing matters and makes the difference between failure and success. To engage with your target markets properly, you need to consider your approach, choose your messages, and build a campaign strategy, not to mention discussing this with your sales and marketing teams, providing training, updating your website, and creating marketing materials; the list goes on and on…

In other words, like most things, if you want to achieve success, your sales launch will need to be considered and planned and this will take time. The last thing you want is to come to a point where you find some great opportunities in the emerging market place but you are unable to go after them properly because you don’t have the right plan in place; especially as at the moment, many of us are time rich and cash poor.

What can you do to make this happen? Well, because we are a very helpful company, we decided to develop a new service designed to support your sales kickstart. You can read more about it here then give us a call to arrange your free target market workshop to kickstart your sales strategy.

Why is business development the next thing to look at?

Clear or not in terms of details, the Government’s new message is opening the possibility for more businesses to get back to work.  As the economy starts to move, you are likely to start considering your sales revenue again. A famous quote from the writer H. Jackson Brown JR said, ‘There is nothing more expensive than missed opportunities.’  Whilst it looks like business development and sales opportunities are hard to come by at the moment, sooner or later you will need to find ways of growing your pipeline again.

You might think that, whilst this is true, now is not the time to consider business development or sales as currently you are not even sure how you will get your staff back to the office. This is very true, but I am afraid that you might need to consider multi-tasking.  This is because turning your sales on in one swift move might prove challenging for a number of reasons:

  • Many new projects and pipeline opportunities might not be relevant or still on hold
  • Many of your existing clients might not be in a position to spend as much or at all
  • Your key product might not be relevant anymore and you will need to consider promoting other products
  • New business sales take longer to develop and require a period of nurturing and relationship building

Another problem you might find, particularly if you come to rely more on new business development, is that your sales staff can take time to get used to the new way of working especially if they have been furloughed for a few months. You may also need to consider a new sales process, sales collateral and marketing message.

In other words, like most things, if you want to achieve success, your sales launch will need to be considered and planned and this will take time. The last thing you want is to come to a point where you find some great opportunities in the emerging market place but you are unable to go after them properly because you don’t have the right plan in place; especially as at the moment, many of us are time rich and cash poor.

What can you do to make this happen? Well, because we are a very helpful company, we decided to develop a new service designed to support your sales kickstart. You can read more about it here then give us a call to arrange your free target market workshop to kickstart your sales strategy.

Crisis Lead Generation tips from YBDT, round two…

In the past few weeks since the UK has gone into Lock-down, we have been posting tips to help companies consider their marketing during the Coronavirus crisis. Here is a summary of the latest tips in case you missed them:

Tip # 5: Test and Measure

Once you are clear on your message and campaign tools, start experimenting to see how you get your message across best. This will ensure that you get a better return from your campaign. Here are a few things to consider:

  1. Try a number of platforms to promote your message
  2. Segment your data and send smaller campaigns to see which get better engagement
  3. Try to use new tactics you have not used before

All of the above are great ways to test but the key thing is to measure your results carefully to ensure you understand what works best at the moment. One more thing to remember is to be realistic and give it time and some repetition to ensure you are being heard.

Tip # 6: Follow up, follow up, follow up

I hope that our previous tips have helped you put together a winning marketing campaign that is appropriate for the current climate. Our tip today relates to what you should do once the dust has settled behind your campaign. To ensure that you are maximising on your return, follow up with every lead you generated and keep following up until you get a definitive answer.

One of my favourite quotes demonstrating this is from Wanda Alan who wrote Follow Up Sales Strategies. She said that 80% of sales are made between the 5th and 12th contact, yet most salespeople only make three follow up calls or less. The numbers of contacts are irrelevant, what matters is that you make as many as it takes to get a definitive answer.

Against popular belief, prospects normally appreciate your follow up as long as it is done in a polite and appropriate manner. Timelines will depend on your product and sales cycle but I have been known to keep in touch with people for several years before they eventually became clients. Don’t give up, believe in your product and remember that you are talking to people who expressed an interest in your company.

Tip # 7: Identify your clients’ buying personas

Last week my tip was all about ensuring you follow up with your prospects until you get a definitive answer. If you have followed up on this advice, you might be feeling rather frustrated with some of your leads by now. This is why this week’s tip is all about making some sense of buying personas which in turn will help you follow up more effectively.

When I get frustrated with following up, I take a deep breath and remind myself of a piece of research undertaken by DISC which identified that only around 35% of the population make decisions quickly, the rest still like to take their time but, importantly, do make buying decisions eventually. To help you use this in practice, consider your prospects’ buying decision, of which there are four:

  1. The Decisive: These buyers have a clear picture in their mind of what results they want. They value rapid action so will typically make quick decisions if they feel your solution is right.
  2. The Interactive: These buyers want to shape events and enjoy “getting their way” when it comes to negotiations or buying something. They typically make quick buying decision particularly when they feel a sense of connection with you.
  3. The Stabiliser. These buyers are more passive and introverted and interested in the how and why of a solution. Their primary interests are in maintaining stability so prefer to “take their time” and weigh up all options and outcomes before making a decision.
  4. The Conscientious: These buyers are also more passive and introverted. They too take a much more detailed and accuracy-based approach to their buying habits. Without sufficient data to prove any statements made to them, you will fail to achieve their buy-in.

Now you are aware, I suggest that you take some time considering your pipeline opportunities and dividing them up into buying personas where possible. This will really help with setting expectations and probable timelines. It might even help you to get rid of some dead horses too.

I hope this is helpful to your current thinking. As always, I am happy to have a chat and share the insights we are gathering from the campaigns we are running for clients at the moment.