Category Archives: Business Development

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

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.

Three key tips to a healthy sales pipeline

Here is an interesting quote from my favourite American author, salesman, and motivational speaker, the late Zig Ziglar:

“Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have 24-hour days”

Of all the ways that a manager can use to provide direction to his sales team, pipeline management is key for two main reasons:

  1. Managing your pipeline will have a direct effect on improved conversion so it’s time well spent
  2. Having a clean and accurate pipeline, makes reporting on new sales much easier and safer

But how do you go about ensuring your salespeople are managing their pipeline well? It might be an idea to consider the issues they are facing first; as I see it these are the main ones:

  • Poor time management.  Salespeople are not always the most organised and spend many hours of unproductive time on the road
  • Lack of clarity and strategy.  Salespeople are often bombarded with new tools, information and training but do not necessarily spend any time building their own strategy and plans.
  • Self-preservation.  Many salespeople use their pipeline as a shield to hide any issues they might be having. Many assume that if they can claim to achieve a ‘mega deal’ this year, all will be well.

So, what can you do to help your team then? Here are my key tips for sale pipeline management:

Tackle the busy fools in your team:

  • Review their schedules and help them develop a regular weekly plan or a default diary
  • Ensure they include productive office time in their week
  • Make them accountable through weekly reporting 

Introduce individual quarterly strategies:

  • Provide some planning training and mentoring
  • Create a unified template
  • Share good examples across the team
  • Make the weekly reporting session based on their plan 

Stop the fantasy culture in your team:

  • Pay higher bonuses to timely signed deals
  • Ensure they have other opportunities which they can prioritise in case the big one is delayed
  • Introduce a ‘no fear’ culture where everyone can come clean and get help
  • Celebrate failure as a key way to learn and move on

I realise these tips are not actually referring directly to pipeline management but in my opinion, these are the key behaviours that, managed well, can make a difference across the board. YBDT can help you consider how to train your sales team and provide them with the right tools. Click here for more details or get in touch.

How do you know which half of your marketing is working?

I assume many of you have heard this before: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half,” John Wanamaker (1838-1922).

Although this is an old quote, it is still very relevant and represents a source of great frustration for many companies. Marketing often seems like an endless pit which you must continue to spend on, regardless of the results you might get from it. Indeed, many companies I meet want us to provide guarantees that we can deliver results. To the marketeers and sales people that might sound problematic, however, not to an engineer who might spend 80% of their time ensuring processes deliver expected results.

This frustration leads many companies to decide not to spend any money on marketing and rely completely on existing clients and referrals. I think this is a case of throwing the baby out with the bath water. The good news is that there are many things you can do to measure your marketing results. Here are a few examples:

  1. Use a CRM system which has an effective dashboard, providing you with an overview of your pipelines and sales opportunities. Make sure that you are including an accurate picture across your sales process, for example new leads, prospects and opportunities. This means that you will be able see an accurate picture of your sales funnel.
  2. Use Google Analytics regularly to evaluate your website performance. Although it takes time to get your head around it, you can find a wealth of information from traffic fluctuation, website usage and sources. If you don’t have the time to do this yourself, ask your marketing company to help or get training.
  3. Ask for reports on any marketing activity you outsource and set up reports for any activities you carry out in-house. From Excel sheets to sophisticated tools such as Keyhole or Hootsuite, find the tool that works for you and use it.

 This is all very well and might help with the initial discussion, but today, statistics and numbers are relatively easy to get hold of. The real question is what it means and whether it’s any use to your business. Let’s say that you have had 500 more people land on your site through Social Media in quarter two; does this mean you are going to hit your sales target this quarter? Of course, the answer is, not necessarily, which brings us back to square one…

What can you do then to understand if your marketing is working?

Here is what I recommend:

  1. Have a plan and a strategy that you update regularly
  2. Get close with your marketing and understand how it works and what results it brings
  3. Ask the right questions about your results
  4. Be patient and realistic about time scales
  5. When in doubt, bring in an expert

 Hope this is helpful. As always, if you are looking to discuss your options or just for some advice do get in touch.

Staying in your comfort zone might not be an option

I recently came across a great quote which might offer some comfort to those of us who might find the unknown a little daunting: Today’s rain is tomorrow’s whisky, Scottish proverb

Whatever your opinion on current events, it is clear that we are dealing with the unknown. This is a difficult situation for businesses to face, hence the sheer number of planning guides popping up all over the place from everyone, including the Government’s latest PR campiagn. The question remains, 

what do you do to prepare your business for the changes afoot?

The answer to this depends very much on your company and who it trades with, which can prove complicated indeed. However, there is one thing every business can do at times like this: developing your new business sales and growing your pipeline with qualified opportunities. You might say that I am bound to say this given what we do but I think you will agree that it is a logical move.

Growing your new business sales, as we all know, is not particularly straightforward. Indeed, there are many reasons why not to: here are a few prime ones:

  1. Hiring or developing the resources required is expensive
  2. There are no guarantees that you will get a return on your investment
  3. You might have to make concessions or changes to your product to make sure it fits
  4. Developing new business takes a lot of time and effort

This is all true but at times like this you need to ask yourself what alternatives you have, ensuring you maintain your sales revenue. If you have other ways in which to develop business then use them but if not, it’s time to get out of your comfort zone – you never know it might prove to be your making.  

Talking about comfort zones, the picture above shows our tent whilst camping on Mull in August. I have included it here because it’s a prime example of me being out of my comfort zone. Camping is not my thing, especially not in Scotland where it rains very often. But on our recent holiday we decided to go for it, and it did rain indeed.  Still, I found that the view from the tent every morning was worth every drop and I gained a lovely experience which will stay with me. I can therefore say, from experience that I would strongly recommend both getting out of your comfort zone, and camping.

As always, if you are looking to discuss your options or just for some advice do get in touch.

What is your favourite B2B marketing strategy?

This week I have discovered that there is definitely something about the North Sea air that really clears your thoughts. I assume it’s the cold wind that hangs around even on a lovely sunny day. I am sat writing this during our summer holiday to the Scottish Island of Islay, a very peaceful and beautiful place indeed. We have just had a picnic and as you can see from the picture, I am ready for the Scottish summer. This means that my family can run around and enjoy the rock pools whilst I stay warm enough.

This brings me to the point of the Blog today which is all about diversifying and working with the conditions you are faced with. We all have a favourite marketing strategy which we tend to believe works for us. For some people it’s e-mail marketing, for others it’s Blogging and for quite a number of SME owners it’s repeat business and referrals. Fundamentally, there is nothing wrong with this. If you have been in business for sometime you must be doing something right. 

Having said that, I believe you need to consider two important elements besides whatever it is that you think is working for you:

  1. Market circumstances do change and being able to foresee this in advance can help you prepare and diversify to ensure you are ready for the new situation.
  2. Measuring your results is very important as there is often a big difference between what you think a tactic is generating and what you actually get.

Just in case you haven’t considered the above before, here are a few things you can do going forward:

  • Changes to the market: None of us have a crystal ball but we can still react to change and create a plan B using a variety of tools such as:
  • Developing possible scenarios and analysing how they might affect both growth and business retention
  • Identifying some low-hanging fruit which are relatively straight forward opportunities you can capitalise on
  • Considering new products or services 
  • Considering new markets to tap into
  • Increasing your reach in your existing market 
  • Measuring your results: This is never an exact science but its is important nonetheless. Here are a few things you might want to consider:
  • Get to know how to use Google Analytics better
  • Learn how to use digital analytic tools for your Social Media activity
  • Make sure you and your team are using a CRM system to record any sales activity 
  • Run some surveys with existing clients 
  • Ensure you always ask new people where they heard of you

These are very broad ideas and I am sure that you and your team can come out with much more specific strategies. When you have, we will be very happy to support you in taking your new ideas to market. Click here to get in touch.

How long does your summer holiday really lasts?

Research into wellbeing points out that levels of burnout are increasing, work-life balance is getting worse and many of us experience stress like never before. If you look at it in this light, having some time off in the summer seems like a really good idea.

Most people must agree, which is why July and particularly August tends to be a quieter time at work. So far so good but the problem is that many take this to mean that they can have a break from marketing too. Go off line for a bit and save some money on on-going campaigns. Good for them. There is nothing wrong with some cost and time saving exercises, no one is listening anyway, right?

After all this build-up I am sure that you understand that I don’t quite agree. Before I am accused of being a sad person and a party pooper, let me explain why: I am all for going on holiday, in fact some people might tell you that I have more holidays than most. But that does not mean I stop looking for new business and working through my marketing plan. Here are a few reasons why:

  1. Because of the level of exposure to content and easy access to work stuff, most people don’t switch off. Even if they don’t read work e-mails on their holiday, they will be thinking about the problems they need to solve when they get back in the office. Your Blog might just get in front of them at the right time.
  2. I have said this before about December but it’s also true about August: people don’t take the entire summer off, unless they are teachers, but when they are in the office they have less meetings so they are more available to take your calls. You never know, you might just be able to get hold of that prospect you have been chasing for months.
  3. Most importantly, a new sale does not start with the crunch, it starts with a load of other work designed to identify interest. This takes time and you always have to go through it first, unless you just want to sit tight and wait for sales to come to you that is. So if you stop all of the interest creation and new business activity you may well find that you don’t write any new business until January 2020. Can you afford to do this?

So, by all means, have your holiday and enjoy it. Try to switch off and leave all the worries and stress for when you get back. Before you go, make sure you schedule the Blogs to go out as normal, keep paying your marketing company and make sure someone is following up on all of this activity. This just might help with your stress levels when you get back.

If you need help augmenting your resources this summer, check out how we can help here.