Category Archives: Business Development

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

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.

Crisis Lead Generation tips from YBDT

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 #1: DON’T STOP YOUR MARKETING ACTIVITIES

As part of ‘doing my bit’ in the current crisis, I have decided to share some daily insights and tips to help your thinking and plans regarding marketing. My first tip is simply to keep your marketing communication channels open.

 I know that everyone is looking at cutting costs and stopping your marketing can be very tempting in this context. However, I think it is useful to remember two things:

  1. If you want to carry on trading, you need to let people know you are working and able to support them still.
  2. This is a time-bound situation, whilst we don’t know how long it will last, we know it will finish. Trust me, once this happens you will want to have a sales pipeline.

Tip #2: FIND YOUR PARTICULAR CRISIS MESSAGE

I see a lot of online conversations about whether you should mention Covid 19 in your marketing content or not. In my opinion, the crisis is so whole-consuming that you have to make reference to it. That said, you will need to find your own voice and decide how you approach it. A few examples I liked today:

  1. Our client, Sentinel Group Security are looking at ways of supporting front line organisations free of charge
  2. My colleague, Adam Young from Fine Young Films, offering a home-made video editing service
  3. Here is our special offer to support companies in the transition to remote working: https://www.yourbizdevteam.co.uk/telephone-services.php

Tip #3: SET SOFTER TARGETS TO YOUR LEAD GENERATION CAMPAIGNS

I often have to manage my clients’ expectations at the best of times let alone in the middle of an unprecedented crisis. Most companies are not in a position to make any purchases right now. This does not mean you should stop all lead gen activities and focus on existing business only. Ask yourself two questions:

  • What can you do which is relevant and helpful right now?
  • Who will benefit most?

There is nothing wrong with offering free of charge or reduced cost services in the spirit of supporting each other. Make sure it is done strategically and within a framework you are happy to support. Then let your prospective clients know what you are doing and target your team to start some useful conversations with new prospects they have not spoken to before.

To let you in on a professional secret, this kind of target is a good one to have anytime. in my experience, all sales start with a useful conversation so make sure you are having lost of them now. This will definitely put you in a better place to develop new business when we are back to normal trading again.

Tip #4CHOOSE THE RIGHT MARKETING TOOLS TO SUPPORT YOUR MESSAGE

If you are looking at running some marketing campaigns at the moment, choosing the right tools to support your message is very important. I have already recommended here that you have a specific approach and message which is relevant to the situation. As part of this process, you will have decided who will be your target markets for this which puts you in the right place to choose your tools.

I am 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. Have I managed to confuse you yet?

Here are a few examples to make my point clearer:

  1. If your marketing message is all about reassuring your clients that you are here to support them and still open for business, you may want to choose a personal email with a telephone follow up. This will help you to convey a more personal message aimed at companies with whom you have an established relationship. You will also gain invaluable information through speaking to your clients and understanding their main challenges.
  2. If you are running a webinar to provide business support to companies which is open to all companies in a specific industry, you are better off using Social Media, and LinkedIn in particular, to appeal to decision makers in the relevant industry.

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.

New leads versus new sales what is the difference?

To some of you it may seem a rather obvious thing to say but a lead and a sale are two different things and accordingly need different treatment. I often come across businesses confusing the two and ending up losing a good lead that could have turned into a sale or spending too much time working on an unqualified lead because they thought they had a sale they didn’t!

A lead may eventually turn in to a sale but there is a process it needs to go through to get there.

Typically, you communicate to leads en masse, a lead could be a contact on a bought list, a card you picked up from a networking event, referrals, respondents to advertising/social media campaigns or someone who has filled out a contact from on your website.

Trying to sell to a lead too early can lose you a potential sale. For example, collecting business cards at a networking event then going back to your office and contacting them as if you have spoken to them and know them and their needs and trying to sell to them is a big no no! 

The simple but necessary process to turn a lead in to a sale means your leads become prospects, which can be turned into an opportunity and then finally closed in to a sale. Below is a brief outline of what needs to be done at each stage:

  1. Leads need to be treated with a care and respect, they need to be nurtured. You need to communicate with the lead on a one to one basis and encourage them to engage with you so you can learn more about them. You can do this with e-mails or telemarketing for example. If a lead engages in two-way communication this suggests they have real potential to buy from you. The lead then becomes a prospect. 
  2. A prospect has the potential to become an opportunity, to make a sale. So next you need to determine if they have a challenge you can help with and whether your product can bring them any value. Therefore, when handling a prospect you need to determine 
  • How much do they know about your product/service?
  • What do you know about their specific challenges?
  • What do they understand about how your product/service could help them?
  • Do they have a budget?
  • Would they appreciate a proposal?

If a prospect decides to consider your proposal or solution to their challenge they become an opportunity and are one step closer to becoming a new sale and a new client. An opportunity is a qualified prospect you have made a detailed proposal to with a specific cost. If the opportunity you present is accepted and agreed you now have a SALE and a new client. Now is the time to start providing them with your product/service!

So, in summary leads, prospects, opportunities and sales are all different but all part of the same process. It is important to differentiate between the stages so you can make sure your marketing and sales strategy is doing the right thing at the right time! If you would like help understanding the stages and developing your sales process please get in touch with Your Business Development Team. We are here to help and be a part of your team. It’s what we do! E-mail me at yafit@yourbizdevteam.co.uk 

Lead generation and selling: what’s more important?

One thing that has stood out for me in the recent Corona Virus scare, is an interview with the Chinese ambassador to the UK in which he said that the Chinese word for crisis is made of two symbols, one meaning ‘danger’ and the other ‘opportunity’. Famously used by JFK in a speech in 1959, this idea is often used in motivational speeches. However, having done some research, I learnt that, strictly speaking, the above is not actually true but like many other marketing slogans, it still works as an inspirational idea.

Sales are often connected with opportunities and risks which, whilst exciting for some, can be confusing at best and a headache at worst to others. This is why many companies stay away from new business sales and focus solely on developing existing business. As a whole, this is not a bad strategy but it can be limiting in terms of potential growth. If you have decided to dip your toe in new business sales however, there are two different elements you need to consider in order to make it happen;

  1. Lead generation
  2. Sales

In our previous Blog this month, we explained why the two are closely connected, yet very different processes. In this Blog, I wanted to look at the process and how you should approach it for best results;

Three things are very important to consider when it comes to setting your sights on new business sales:

  1. Target markets’ strategy: Understanding who you are targeting and why is key for a successful campaign.  Just making a start and going to market is easier but almost certainly not better. I would definitely recommend that you spend time considering and planning before you start. 
  2. Budget, expectations and time scale: New business development, particularly in B2B environments, takes time. You need to be realistic about how long it will take to get meaningful leads and convert them. This needs to be reflected in the budget you set for the project. 
  3. The quality of your sales operation: If your lead generation strategy is working, your conversion rate will almost certainly drop. This is absolutely not because your leads are no good, though you should always test and measure them. This is because when you have more leads, your sales process and techniques come under strain and reveals problems and bottlenecks. Make sure you review these and make changes when required.

As a lead generation agency, we are often at the sharp end of new business sales and we have seen many campaigns succeed and almost as many fail in our time. This is why we understand how important are the above factors to the success of your growth. 

So next time you get worried about your new business sales make sure you look for failures across the entire process, then implement new tactics, check again, change and so on.  Remember what Leo Tolstoy wrote in Anna Karenina; ’If you look for perfection, you’ll never be content’. Celebrate your success and learn from your failures and most importantly, apply patience.

Click here to see how we helped one of our clients, Driving Vision, to achieve the right blend of lead generation and sales which contributed to their growth in their first year of operation. 

Lead generation V selling what is the difference?

“Don’t count the things you do, do the things that count.”

I love this quote…too many people are rushing round being busy but achieving little. You have to work smart not just hard! This applies to your lead generation and sales processes too.

Lead generation and selling work hand in hand not against each other.  Lead generation tends to be sending out a message to many and selling is likely to be one on one. Your marketing & lead generation activity provides the leads, so your sales people can then take them through the sales process and make the deal!

The lead generation process:

  • Obtain Leads – Begin by attracting prospects to your website by generating engaging content that can be shared through various marketing channels, where ever your potential customers are active
  • Nurture Leads – Once you have captured the prospects contact information, you have a lead. it is now important to nurture them and build up a relationship with them.
  • Evaluate Each Lead – It is important to know which leads are more valuable, so you can focus more of your attention on the ones that are more likely to become customers.
  • Pass Leads to Sales – When the leads have been, captured, nurtured and desire created by the marketing team it is time to pass the lead on to the sales team to convert in to a sale.     
  • Review Lead Generation Process – Constantly review your lead generation process to ensure it is as effective as it can be.

When the prospect has been turned in to a lead, nurtured and qualified, it is ready for…

The sales process: 

  • Make contact – Get in touch and start building rapport.
  • Find the need/pain – Talk to the prospective client about his business, his issues, find out what problems he has that your product/service can help with.
  • Offer Solution – Show them how your product/service offers them a solution to the problem they have or how your product/service will benefit their business.
  • Overcome Objections & Close the Sale – Objections aren’t always a no, see them as a request for more information. 
  • Maintain your relationship – Keep in contact with the client, make sure they are happy. Happy clients will bring repeat business and referrals.

Businesses need a consistent flow of good quality leads in their sales funnel, so your sales team have plenty of opportunity to make deals, and increase sales revenue.

 A lead generation strategy is essential for a successful business. There are a number of ways to generate leads, some of which have been discussed in previous blogs. Take a look at 4 SME Marketing Tools  or 5 top SME’s off-line marketing strategies . What is most important is working out what works best for your business and having a plan in place to create consistent leads. 

However, don’t just think of leads in terms of quantity, quality is essential also! This is why it is vital to think long and hard about who your prospective clients are and the best way to reach them and what the right message is to send them. See my recent blog on being clear on who your target market is.

Once a prospect has been turned in to a lead, you can use them for various purposes such as data list building, e-newsletter list acquisition or for sales leads. A good lead generation plan and quality leads will not only increase sales, it will help generate awareness of your product/service, target desired clients and collect important information about prospects.Why not take a moment and consider whether you have a good lead generation plan (or any) for your business? If not, don’t panic, we can help you put one in place or maybe make improvements to a current one that isn’t achieving what you hoped it would. Contact us at Your Business Development Team and we’ll help you work out what is best for your business.

How to create a successful campaign plan?

Trial and error is a great tool for learning anything and that goes for your marketing too. We all spend a lot of time looking for lead generation tools that work for our business and when we find one, we hold on to it. At the same time, if we try something and it does not work, we strike it off our list forever. I think that it’s a good way to ensure you are spending your budget wisely and getting results.

So far so good but let me ask you two further questions:

  1. How much of your knowledge of success is based on your preference and comfort zone rather than on testing and measuring?
  2. When was the last time you reviewed your tried and tested lead generation methods?

These are really important questions to consider because,

  1. You should base your lead generation campaigns on your target market’s preference and comfort zone rather than your own
  2. New lead generation tools are developed all the time and trends and approaches are developed so reviewing your approach regularly is important

The beginning of the year is often when companies plan their marketing, so this month I thought I would share my approach to campaign planning whilst taking into account the above considerations:

Break your marketing into individual campaigns first and plan each one separately

Don’t go in all directions in one go; it’s much better to have two successful campaigns than five messy ones.

Set your new business targets by working out the following parameters of the sale:

  • Your average sale 
  • Your conversion rate 
  • Number of leads required 
  • Make sure your goals are SMART

Get a better understanding of who you are targeting. Consider things like:

  • Who is your ideal company and why?
  • What is the specific problem that you can solve?
  • Who do you want to speak to?
  • Where are they likely to go for information?
  • What questions are they going to ask?
  • What are your challenges in winning companies in this market?

Learn from your competition.  Do some research to find out:

  • Who are your main competitors in this market?
  • What are they doing to attract new business?
  • Can you offer something different?

Once you are clear on the above, look at tools and tactics:

  • What worked for you in the past?
  •  What can you do successfully using your own resources?
  • Are there any new tools you could use?
  • What is worth outsourcing?

There are many more things you can do but the above considerations are key to setting you off in the right direction. Many companies are set up to do their own planning successfully but if you lack resources or would like another pair of eyes and ears on the case, give us a call to discuss further. Find out more about our lead generation plans here.