Category Archives: Business Development

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

Change for Success

Over the summer we have been talking in our blogs about reorienting your sales and marketing effort to suit the changed business landscape of 2021. Thinking strategically, and planning for future achievements is a critical path to success.

Identifying and exploiting new opportunities requires quick, decisive actions. Your Business Development Team have worked with Sentinel Group Security (SGS) for several years. Over that time as the market for effective, personalised security services has shifted, YBDT have kept pace with the changes, and provided solutions to support SGS’ priorities. You can read the case study on our work for SGS here. YBDT worked with them on the creation of their contracted manned security division which has seen them grow into one of the premier suppliers of officers to the security industry.

Relationships are key to success in the security industry, so YBDT’s proven lead nurturing service was invaluable in creating the foundations for the ambitious targets set by the client. Running targeted campaigns aimed at specific industry sectors using direct mail and the trade press to establish the SGS brand in the minds of potential clients were carried out. As new products such as security workforce management software were introduced, and carefully planned launches were implemented. When unexpected developments, such as the need for additional manned guarding brought about by the Coronavirus pandemic, occurred, the strategy was flexible enough to accommodate a sudden switch in the priorities of the industry and allowed SGS to respond positively to their customers’ demands.

“Expect the unexpected” is a good maxim to live by in business generally, but the last year and a half have shown this to be truer than ever when planning a sales and marketing strategy. The construction industry has had a lot of change forced on it by the requirement for remote working. Entrepreneur JB de Lartigue had recognised an opportunity as far back as 2018 to support businesses in the construction sector who were struggling with the new area of Building Information Modelling (BIM). He created Driving Vision as the vehicle for this drive. With contacts and leads built up through the application of YBDT’s sales and marketing strategy, JB and his team were in an ideal position to exploit the heightened interest in the online collaborative approach to building design of BIM. JB said of our work for him that: “YBDT helped us to have a marketing strategy in place, all the sales, and marketing tools and materials necessary to get our first key prospect just three months after entering the market.” You can read more about our work for Driving Vision here.

Being in a position to embrace a rapidly changing market place for your products and services requires a business to have laid the groundwork. Sales and marketing strategies, relationship building and lead generation and nurturing processes actively seeking your ideal client, and above all a team of professionals ready to support your salesforce in capitalising on opportunities as they arise, promptly. We can be your business development team. Get in touch to learn more about how we can support your success.

Selling creatively creates success

Last month we discussed two companies which successfully utilised our established experience in business development support in the manufacturing and engineering sectors. As we pointed out, these are industries that have not previously needed to rely on active sales and marketing strategies as they could expect to see sufficient repeat business from regular customers.

There are many business sectors currently finding that they need to find new ways of putting their product and services in front of potential customers. The “new thing” can be very simple, here are a few examples:

For SVR Plastics, a long-established business selling into the Civil Engineering market, YBDT provided email and telemarketing services to raise awareness of their product specification guide. The campaign focused on ensuring that SVR’s products were on every merchant trade counter and the desk of the main estimator at each major contractor. A straightforward awareness raising campaign has led to a significant increase in enquiries and orders.

For businesses that do not have a culture of proactive sales, a “soft touch” approach can still bring benefits, as in the case of SVR, regular emails highlighting specific areas of their range supported by calling to key decision makers kept the company’s name in front of buyers with regular requirements.

When Tom and Teddy, the successful man and boys’ swimwear designer brand, came to the UK in 2018, they looked for support in getting them in front of retailers. As part of their marketing effort, they hired YBDT to research and call independent retailers and department stores and invite them to attend their stand at a key fashion exhibition in London. Founder and Director Michelle L’Huillier said: “As a result of this I have had some great conversations with retailers including Harrods, one of our key targets”.

Thinking creatively about what would generate leads for your business, in the distribution channel or when selling direct to the end user, helps your business stand out from the clamour of competitors jostling for the customers’ attention. For Tom and Teddy, the careful research and targeting of the best contacts, in the right companies lead to growth in the U.K. building on their previous success in Australia and the USA.

Creative thinking about sales and marketing comes from our experience of working with companies in many industries. Our expertise, built up over years of creating B2B strategies that support clients’ goals and objectives, means that we can tailor the services we offer to your expectations. Raising awareness of your presence in the marketplace, developing a clear strategy for sales growth, or generating and nurturing leads to the point that your sales team can take them on to orders all form part of our support to help you progress in 2021. Get in touch to learn more about how we can help you realise your goals.

Build a sales pipeline that is fit for the future

One of the areas that Your Business Development Team have been working in over the last couple of years is supporting companies in engineering and construction. As these are industries where the focus is inevitably on production, sales and marketing activity can sometimes take a back seat, potentially resulting in gaps in the order book as the pipeline runs dry. Planning for production often needs long term thinking. If raw materials and components have extended deliveries, then the sales pipeline becomes of critical importance. Knowing what orders may come along in the next three, six or twelve months can have a considerable impact on ordering parts and recruiting staff.

Many companies in engineering and construction are well established and have depended on long term customer relationships for repeat business. In 2020 however nearly 30% of construction businesses and 22% of manufacturers stopped production either temporarily or permanently. As many SME companies supplying the construction industry rely on fewer than ten regular customers this represents a major problem, as the work they have come to expect may simply not be there anymore. Your Business Development Team have a suite of services that are ideal for helping engineering and construction businesses rebuild their sales pipeline, putting enquiries and orders in the bank for 2021, 2022 and beyond. Here are a couple of examples.

Recently we supported a manufacturer of cement additives who were looking to expand from their very narrow customer base into supplying the industry distribution channel and directly to large contractors. By researching and contacting the key decision makers in the major builder’s merchants we were able to present the sales manager with appointments at 3 out of the top 4 builders’ merchants, giving our client access to sales in over 1,000 stores. At the same time, our lead generation and nurturing team were working to create understanding of their product at the end user, stimulating demand both directly and through the merchant channel.

YBDT has worked with Harrier Pneumatics over the last couple of years to help them prospect for new customers for their compressed air services. As well as targeting new customers with product led campaigns that open up new markets for Harrier, YBDT have developed a strategy for contacting existing clients to expand the range of services that they take. As with many engineering companies, most of Harriers customers were using them for only one or two of their services, simply because they were unaware that Harrier had other products available that they needed. This is a good illustration of how outsourcing these initial lead generation conversations to us, rather than relying on an already stretched sales team can produce great results, extending your reach with those who already know and like your business. You can read more about our work with Harrier here.

YBDT’s long experience in all aspects of sales and marketing support makes us the ideal partner for manufacturing and engineering business. We can help you create and implement a clear business development strategy and generate and nurture leads to the point that your sales team can take them on to orders. Get in touch to learn more about how we can help.

Buying leads V outsourcing business development

If you are in sales or looking to grow your company, you must have read Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill who also said that ‘Strength and growth come only through continuous effort and struggle’.

Whilst we would all like to make sales and acquire new customers with minimum effort on our part, this is not a realistic expectation. I agree with Napoleon that growth comes from continues effort, but I would add using a strategic approach to that. Whatever tools you use to generate leads and develop sales, you need to put effort into it to make it work. For example:

  • Referral partners: Many companies only sell through referrals and that’s a great strategy. A referral from a trusted partner means that you are much further down the line to getting the sale converted. However, to get a good referral partner on board you need to have spent a lot of time in meetings and networking with them first.
  • Content Marketing: Some companies use content marketing as a key inbound strategy. Often, it’s hard to tell if you get any results from this but when people have read your communication and spent time on your website it’s often easier to convert them into customers. Obviously, getting to the point where your content is both engaging and selling takes a lot of time and hard work.

I have spoken before about magic wands and silver bullets; in lead generation we often come across people looking for these. I am still taken aback when I get asked if we get paid for results only but I understand why people ask for this. When Pay Per Click (PPC) was introduced by Google in October 2000, it disrupted the lead generation market, as good products often do. As a result, many companies now expect to only pay for results, which is understandable from their point of view. However, any good lead generation campaign requires a good strategy, testing and measurement as well as lead qualification and nurturing to work. Which brings us back to the first point.

When you buy leads or pay for results you are only actually getting a part way in the sales journey and will still need to put a lot of time into qualifying and nurturing the opportunity in order to convert it. So, it is just a different way of going about your lead generation process where more of it depends on your own resource.

Next time you are considering a lead generation campaign, remember these three things:

  1. Generating the right leads from scratch takes a comprehensive understanding of your marketplace. You will need to consider your strategy and find a good partner to support you
  2. Whatever tactics you use to generate leads, they will need to be qualified and nurtured as part of the process
  3. Your campaign is only the start of the journey as developing new business takes time so be realistic on both your time scales and conversion expectations.

At YBDT we support you all the way from lead generation to selling, leaving less to chance. You can read more about how we do it here. As always, we are happy to support your lead generation effort so give us a call to discuss further.

Sales Performance – beyond the basics

In March we looked at some of the key drivers for sales performance where we made some suggestions in terms of guiding your thinking whilst selling to a changed market place. This month we are looking at improving your sales conversion by breaking down the points you need to address into manageable chunks.  This will make it easier to understand what support you need to progress in the new business world we are all operating in.

Focus: This builds on the “understanding” section of our previous piece. “Are we talking to the right people in the right organisations about the right things?” In 2021 we need to relearn everything about our potential clients. What we knew a year ago will not help us now. They are different, we are different. Focusing in on what is important to customers now will help you establish relationships with people who maybe were not on your radar in the old world.

Time: The one resource you can’t buy more of. As John H. Dean, Vice President at the Bank of America says; ‘just one hour a day used more productively adds up to more than six extra weeks of productive time a year’. By measuring every activity against its importance to your business goals, you can make every minute profitable. As we said in March, the first place to look are those goals themselves. Are they fit for purpose in 2021?

Ask, listen, and act: John H Dean explains it perfectly: ‘Better than any others, these three words summarise success in sales’. Making your questions relevant, and direct, listening to the responses and taking appropriate action are critical to converting potential to actual orders.

Ask, listen and act is also a good summary of how Your Business Development Team can support you. By helping you refine your goals through our business development strategy we can understand the right questions to ask your prospects. Listening to the answers perfects the nurturing and follow up process. Acting upon what we learn from each engagement with your potential clients enhances our delivery of your message to the people you need to buy from you.

The American general Creighton Abrams is credited with the rather dubious quote that the best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. While we certainly wouldn’t suggest this as a dining choice, the principle of taking a large problem and tackling it one piece at a time is sound business practice. Working with Your Business Development Team allows you to draw the resources you need from our team of professionals to solve the lead generation, sales nurturing, and conversion issues that are holding your business back. To learn more about how we can help get in touch

Sales Strategy and Sales Tactics – knowing the difference is the key to your success

Since Michael Douglas quoted it in ‘Wall Street’ back in the 80s Sun Tzu’s ‘The Art of War’ has been required reading in many business circles. While most of us would perhaps not approach our business life as a military campaign, Sun Tzu does have a lot to say about the difference between strategy and tactics that is helpful.

A sales strategy sets out your overall goals. With a clear strategy all those involved in the sales and marketing of your business can see and understand the objectives of a campaign. A sales strategy would usually be the first part of a creating a plan. This is because actions taken without a purpose or objectives are less likely to be successful. The objectives also dictate the content and imagery of the campaign as well as its target audience. Your sales strategy identifies which customers your business is targeting, it specifies how you will reach them, and it outlines the steps you need to take for them to buy from you.

“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory.” – Sun Tzu

Once you have your strategy in place you need to decide how it will be carried out. Sales tactics refer to the specific actions you will take to implement the sales strategy. Tactics show the processes you will use to move your business objectives forward.

“Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” – Sun Tzu

Some sales strategies can end up as little more than lists of tactics. It might be making more calls, sending more emails or planning special offers. These are all great ideas, but they are tactics, not strategies. Tactics are there to support a strategy. Poor tactical planning might succeed if you have a great strategy, but the best tactics will inevitably fail if they have no strategic framework to sustain them.  

YBDT create clear actionable sales and marketing strategies. Working with us to develop your strategy means taking advantage of our years of supporting clients in forming sales and marketing campaigns that deliver results. Once you have a plan you can take it in house to build the tactics needed to make a success of your strategy. Alternatively, you can continue to work with YBDT and use our team to generate leads and nurture them until your customer is ready to buy.

Sun Tzu has a lot more to say about planning your battles, encouraging those who are important to your plans, and taking the opportunities that come your way. YBDT can support your sales and marketing from planning strategies to helping you select the best tactics for your target market. Get in touch to talk to us about the best plan for your business.

A key insight to your target markets which you may have not considered before

At YBDT we understand the importance of correctly identifying target markets for our clients. In fact, the first thing we do when a new client comes on board is to run a target market workshop so we can build their lead generation target around this. Therefore, I am always looking for more angles and ideas to capture target markets correctly.

I have already flagged up The Mom Test by Rob Fitzpatrick as a great read and wanted to share his insight into ‘target market slicing’ as he calls it. You should read the book yourself but here are two key ideas to consider in the meanwhile:

  1. It is very easy to come up with a fairly generic and pretty useless definition of your target market. We are all familiar with the process of identifying target markets but, according to Rob Fitzpatrick, we often go through it and end up with the wrong conclusion.  For example, if you provide coaching services to SMEs in the Bristol area and you are specifically interested in established businesses who turnover £1-25M, using this segment only will not get you far because it is too generic. You need to ask further questions like:
  • Within this group, which type of business owner would need coaching most?
  • Who in the group is more likely to benefit from your style of coaching?
  • What are the key motivations for them to want to work with you?

When you start thinking about it like this, you come up with much more helpful details to define your target markets. For example, you know that business owners are more likely to look for coaching in specific situations like planning retirement or when recruiting for key roles. You also know that they are more likely to turn to coaching if they have used it before and/or facing a key issue which allows you to build a much clearer client avatar.

2. Building a client avatar is important but we could then find ourselves with another key problem, how do we find them?  According to Rob Fitzpatrick, if there isn’t a clear physical or digital location at which you can find your customer segment, then it’s probably too broad. His advice is to go back to the list and keep slicing.

If we go back to our coach and his client avatar, knowing that he needs to target business owners who are facing a major issue and who have experienced coaching before is not very helpful unless he knows how to find them. In the words of The Mom Test:

Good Customer Segments are a who-where pair. If you don’t know where to go to find your customers, keep slicing your segment into smaller pieces until you do’

Back to our coaching example, we can use the following facts to help us gather some data for the client avatar:

  • Geography: Bristol
  • Size: £1-25M TO
  • Established: been operating for more than two years
  • Owner-managed businesses

However, knowing if they are facing an issue or have used coaching before is trickier to identify, so you keep on slicing and come up with a few more ideas like:

  • Building relationships with accountants and other consultants who may come across clients who need your help.
  • Running free webinars which cover solutions to some key issues and might attract business owners who need some help.
  • Regularly search for recruitment ads for senior roles and target these businesses.

I hope you have found this useful. As always, I am happy to discuss your specific requirements so get in touch or find out more about our business development strategy here.

The Secrets to an effective follow up

‘You were born to win, but to be a winner you must plan to win, prepare to win, and expect to win.’ Zig Ziglar

Current market conditions make winning new business harder. With many companies choosing to defer any decisions until clarity is restored, planning a tailored approach and keeping in touch will increase your chances of winning the project later. What can you do to encourage your sales team to follow up more often?

Many sales managers and business owners conclude that their sales professionals must work harder but often they are stretched in lots of directions having to keep existing customer happy, while also prospecting for new business. In my opinion, an even bigger problem lies in the fact that many sales people are not sure how to follow up effectively.

To ensure that you and your team are following up effectively you need to consider a number of things:

Be clear on the value of following up: many people believe that if a prospect is really interested, they will come back to them. This is true in an ideal world, but it depends on your product, industry and their relationship with the competition. Whilst we want to strike the right balance, most decision makers are very busy and will need a few approaches to refresh their memory.

  • Top tip: Call it ‘Building a relationship’ instead of following up to help build the value and understanding amongst your team

Make sure you set goals: like with everything else, setting a goal each time you follow up with a prospect will ensure you ask the right questions and get a better idea of where you are. Just sticking with converting to a sale is not specific enough, a good follow up system will have a goal for each call.

  • Top tip: Understanding that what you are selling is not suitable or a priority to a prospect is a good step forward. Flogging dead horses does not take you very far

Ask good questions: these take some time and planning. Once you have a goal for the call, ensure you write down a few questions you should ask to find out more. Don’t try to find out everything at once but rather break it down to bite sized chunks. This will allow you to get to the real detail but also to build a relationship gradually.

  • Top tip: If you are not asking any questions that make you feel uncomfortable you are missing some key points

Find out more about their problems: what keeps them awake at night and takes up too much of their time? Remember the Status Quo Bias by Daniel Kahneman which predicts that unless people perceive an urgent reason to change, they will stick with the status quo. The more you find out about their pain the better your chances of selling to them, if your product is indeed relevant.

  • Top tip: Most people buy to alleviate pain and not to further their gain

At YBDT, lead nurturing is a key part of the support we offer our clients. We identified that having a clear sales process is a great way to ensure you have an effective follow up system. That said, we think that many companies fail to create an effective process that is used across the board. To support our clients and contacts, we are launching a series of quarterly seminars to cover key elements to creating a sales process and using it successfully.

If you want to learn more, sign up for our first lunch webinar: How to follow up effectively on Tuesday 23/03/21, 12:00- 13:00.

What are the key sales performance drivers?

The world has changed in so many ways in the last year and businesses have needed to adapt to the shifting situation to keep growing and thriving. Now that we are slowly making our way back to normality, it’s worth going back to basics with your sales and marketing and reviewing your approach to generating and nurturing leads as well as converting those into sales.

If you have been following the same sales path for years, then it is probably time to look at changing things up. Here are a few thoughts to start you on the road to sales success.

  • Clarify: Understanding where your business sits in the marketplace is key to this. What do you do best? Who needs what you do? How do you best approach them? How much are they willing to pay?
  • Goals: Every sales teams needs goals, both as something to strive for, and to give you, as their manager, something to measure your success against. When did you last review your sales goals? Are they fit for purpose in 2021? If they are the same ones you had in 2019 then you should certainly be looking at how your priorities have changed.
  • Results: Drilling down into your sales data will teach you how good your goals are. If your sales team are under-performing, is it about inappropriate targeting and goals setting than under achievement?  Reviewing the number of leads, conversion rates, and other KPIs will help you focus on the real problems and enable you to look for solutions.
  • Activity: Simply doing more is the best way to generate more leads. Talking to more of your existing prospects will connect them to your business more closely. Looking at the results will tell you what has worked, and what hasn’t, meaning you can start to establish a route to growing your sales pipeline.
  • Understanding: Knowing what your key prospects, and your existing customers, want and expect of you will enable you to strengthen your relationship with them. This will help establish a sales process and create workable and effective follow up routines which fit in with your overall process.

These are just the first few steps on the road, and we will look at other aspects of building your sales performance another time. The quickest way to building an effective sales pipeline is to work with a reliable established partner.  Your Business Development Team have a fifteen-year track record of generating and nurturing leads, and supporting our clients in many industries to build and refine relationships. Our “Improved Sales Conversion” process provides a clear roadmap to enhanced understanding, better follow ups and a sales pipeline that you can develop into profitable orders. To learn more about how we can help get in touch

Why selling takes time and effort?

On a cold February morning in the middle of another lockdown planning how to improve your sales can seem like all too much effort. If you are thinking “well this worked when we did it before”, and before was 2019 then it likely will be wasted effort.

Doing more of “the same old same old” in 2021 is not very practical. Walking into your customer’s office with a smile and a firm handshake just isn’t happening. Unimaginative selling had been slowly dying long before the Pandemic, but now we all need to think more clearly about how we sell, and most importantly what our customer thinks of our interactions with them.

“How you sell matters. What your process is matters. But how your customers feel when they engage with you matters more.” – Tiffani Bova

Innovation in your lead generation and nurturing is important. Now more than ever. With the world now firmly online, there is the temptation to rely on a few social media posts to do your lead generation for you. Your competitors probably think the same, but my experience shows that contacting customers directly raises you above the background noise of the Internet. Going offline to engage with your potential customers can positively influence their view of your company. One of my team was sent a drinks coaster by a supplier, a simple gesture but it showed that when so many companies have gone quiet and are just hoping for it all to be over soon, his supplier is still there ready and able to do business.

So, why does selling take time and effort? Because your customers are worth it. Taking the time to build a relationship with a new contact, understanding their business and what they need from you is a key piece in building the jigsaw puzzle of a sale. When much of their contact comes from instant sales pitches on LinkedIn, or they haven’t heard from a supplier in months, being contacted by a company that is interested and actively seeking to work with them will encourage them to look seriously at your offer and ultimately to buy from you.

A stat I have used on our website comes from Wanda Allan; “80% of sales are made between the 5th and 12th contact yet, 90% of sales people make 3 contacts or less”. Your Business Development Team offer dedicated support to your sales team. Lead generation can be time consuming and your skilled salespeople’s time is usually best spent on the later stages of the sales process where their knowledge of your products and services matters most. That leaves the crucial area in the middle, nurturing those leads to the point that they are ready to buy. Remember Wanda’s stat. It isn’t your sales team’s fault that they only have time to make three calls rather than five or twelve. They are doubtless stretched in lots of directions having to keep existing customer happy, while also prospecting for new business. Your Business Development Team can fill in that gap between the lead and the sale.

For more information how Your Business Development Team will work with you to generate and nurture the leads that are vital to your business’s recovery visit our Lead Nurturing page, and get in touch to talk amore about our service.