Category Archives: Sales

Staying focused can be hard work these days…

‘I try to stay focused on my creativity,’ said Christina Aguilera. Well, what can I say, me too, how about you?

It might have been mentioned before that we live in a very busy world which makes staying focused very difficult. This affects most people and covers all walks of life, making It one of the biggest challenges we face. Now, I cannot really help you if you are a nuclear physicist looking to get more focused but if you are looking at increasing your new business sales, I might be able to offer some advice;

So, what are the specific issues you face regarding focusing your business development?

As I see it there are three key issues:

  1. Short cuts
  2. Silver bullets
  3. Impatience

I do apologise if this sound a bit like a Haiku but it can be further explained with the following example:

Bob is a Business Development Director who has been tasked with increasing new business sales for his company. Bob has a very busy job and is bombarded with communications about how he could take his company to the next level using the latest trick every day. Bob, like many people, likes to use tried and tested tools, preferably ones he feels comfortable with. What will he do now then? Here are some options:

  1. Bob could look at previous marketing campaigns which may have worked in the past and look to re-instate them, praying they still work
  2. Bob could pursue the latest tool promised to solve all his problems
  3. Bob could spend some time reviewing and understanding his target markets and put together a structured strategy to approach them

Will you be surprised if I told you that any of the above options could still land him with no further sales?

This is the problem so many of us come across, no matter how much thought you put into a campaign ensuring your planning is spot on; you still may fail, in THE SHORT TERM. One of the biggest issues with our busy world is that it is full of choice and so we have become dependant on instant solutions that deliver immediately. But, when it comes to selling, particularly expensive stuff, it’s impossible to get immediate results and you really need to apply patience in order to get any meaningful leads.

As patience really is a virtue these days, most people abort business development campaigns too as soon as they feel they have had no results and start again on another old initiative or a different silver bullet and so on and so forth. Now that sort of thing really does not help your focus or your new business sales, does it?

I don’t think there is one answer to this, as it will make me another business person offering silver bullets. All I would say, is that every business has specific needs and details make all the difference. If you want to look into this further, click on this link (preferably on your mobile) to fill in our questionnaire and we can get back to you with some ideas.

 

Why are new business sales a must in 2019?

Many people will be looking at this title and say that developing new business is always a must. Still, many companies don’t necessarily consider this an emergency, especially well-established ones. This is an important area to consider as a matter of course but I felt that there is more of a calling for it currently which is why I am dedicating this Blog to this.

Back in December, I wrote a Blog about common sense where I examined some key reasons to focus on new business development in 2019. One of the reasons, though general, is particularly important in the face of current events:

as Matthew S. Olson and Derek van Bever demonstrate in their book Stall Points, once a company runs up against a major stall in its growth, it has less than a 10% chance of ever fully recovering.

I am not sure about you, but I can certainly see a potential stall point coming up which might affect many companies’ growth. When I wrote my original Blog, many businesses were still treating the situation as one to ignore, thinking that things will get clearer in the New Year. At the time of writing these lines we are 13 business days away from the UK leaving the EU and we have no further clarity.

I have not written this Blog to join the end of the world choir and I am sure that business will prevail after Brexit, in the long term we may even be better off, who knows. Your problem as a business owner, Sales Director or senior manager is the short term. How will you navigate your ship in the stormy water of a ‘short-term economic downturn’?

There’s a lot to be said for applying some planning to this situation, whatever you call rainy day measures in your organisation. That said, many businesses feel that you can hardly plan for a scenario you are unclear about. However, there is one area you could definitely benefit from reviewing which is, your new business sales.

This is particularly important for established companies out there as over reliability on existing business can make them very vulnerable to a market downturn. As we all know, when the economy is showing signs of crisis many companies look to reduce their monthly outgoings and review unnecessary expenses. There is no telling what these might be and whether your company will be affected by it. In this situation, you might agree, there is no harm in developing some new business and growing your pipeline by way of plan B.

I cannot tell you which way you should go in terms of new business without knowing more about your circumstances. However, I can say that whichever way you choose to go, you need to consider two important factors:

  1. Developing new business can take time to mature, anything between 6-12 months.
  2. The longer you leave it the more competition you will have.

This is why I recommend that you look into this urgently to make sure that you can start widening your options and developing your sales pipeline. We have recently developed a new lead generation system we call Big ticket Leads which might provide a possible solution.  Watch this short animation to find our more.

 

About making a choice

We recently asked a carpenter to make us some shelves for our kitchen.  In the process of discussing our requirements, we went from having a few shelves for our cook books to having a floor to ceiling unit in the corner of our kitchen. That took some careful measurements and calculations then off he went to make our unit.

Some time passed and he came back to take some final measurements. It was Monday morning and I had about a million things to think about but it was then that I was asked to make a choice between a corner unit or a straight forward shelving unit. What I should have done was to ask him to leave it with me so we could discuss it but instead I felt compelled to make a choice there and then. I chose a corner unit, which came out completely the wrong shape and size for our kitchen. Not a good outcome; luckily it sorts of fits in our living room.

At this stage, I think it’s important to mention that there is never just one choice.  However, if you need to make one, here is what I learned:

  1. Immediate choices are not a must. Some things are better off being carefully considered.
  2. Making the right choice takes specific skill and knowledge. Sometimes it’s wise to involve other people who are better placed to make a particular decision.

Your business development strategy, just like many other elements, involves making choices. In order to make it work for your company, you need to consider a variety of things, such as:

  • Who are you targeting?
  • In what order?
  • What is their key issue?
  • How can you solve it?

Once you are clear on the above, you can work out what tactics to use to better connect with your target markets.  At this stage, your choice should be based on where your target markets search for helpful information. This will almost certainly not be based on one tactic, or platform but rather on a variety of tools which fit together.

Simple, right? WRONG!  Doing this right takes some skill and research. It might take some time to put together and you might have to ask an expert. But done correctly, it will work much better than applying the latest craze which everyone is talking about.

Our Big Ticked Lead Generation system was designed to provide a means which may be right for you if you operate in the B2B market and have a complicated, long sales process.  Check our website for more details or give us a call to discuss further.

3 tips for making a quick start on new business development

If you want some good advice, listen to the American tennis player Arthur Ashe, who said, ‘Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can’.  When it comes to developing new business, this is sound advice, particularly when so many people are looking for a magic bullet that will get them off to a flying start. Often, the answer is actually much closer than you imagine and comes from utilising what you already know.

Doing what I do, I often stand at the starting line with a new client, looking down the track we have defined to be his new target market.  People laugh when I tell them that despite putting together a sound strategy, in reality we don’t really know how it will go until we start. This can be a little daunting for companies wanting return on their investment. The process of developing new business is slow by definition, as you are venturing into markets you where you are not known, and that is not an easy concept for the board to come to terms with.

So, what can you do to try and speed things up?

The answer to that is threefold.  Using the words of Arthur Ashe:

  1. Start where you are: This applies to the strategy stage when it is really important to use your current market knowledge to propel you on to the next market. If you are already successful with hospitality, you may want to look at a related market such as facility management rather then going for insurance. This means that your current success will be easier to demonstrate and your market understanding will be much more relevant.
  2. Use what you have: The key to an accelerated sales process, is using known contacts who can introduce you into the new market you are developing. It might sound obvious, but I don’t actually meet many people who do this. It’s much easier to buy a database and call everyone but results will be much slower. Get everyone in your company considering old contacts they may have and referral partners who can help; you will amazed by the value of what you can gather using your own resources.
  3. Do what you can: So many people I meet give up too soon. Getting into a new market is not easy and you may feel that you are better off staying where you are, which is fine. But if you are going for a new market, make sure you are prepared to chase people and keep following up until you get a sensible answer.

I hope this is helpful and will make some difference to your plans for achieving world domination this year. If you need some help with additional resources, a good plan or lead nurturing, check out our website or get in touch

This January Feeling…

Zig Ziglar once said that, ‘if you aim at nothing you will hit it every time’. I chose this quote because it always makes me smile and it is also very apt in January. Whether you own a business or are in charge of business development and sales, January is the time for planning. Unfortunately, January is also a time when your pipeline may feel a little short. You may therefore find yourself in a situation where on the one hand there are all these great new plans being made and on the other hand you are looking at your shrinking pipeline, wondering how you are ever going to hit these numbers.

This pressure can sometimes be the reason why people hit the January Blues this time a year. As I see it you have two options here:

  1. Aim at nothing and hit it, make excuses and hide
  2. Try and get some quick wins whilst targeting longer term new opportunities

I cannot help you much with the first option but I thought I would come up with some ideas to help you get some quick wins which will buy you some time until new opportunities develop. Your issue is that you have probably hit your top opportunities hard in the last quarter in order to hit your annual target which has left you with little else. Here are a few things you can do:

  • Speak to clients who have not purchased from you in a while. This is particularly helpful if you have some new products to tell them about as your reason for the call. Failing that, most contacts will be open to you calling for a general update on their requirements.
  • Identify clients who may be able to buy more services from you. How many times have you come across existing clients who tell you how they bought a product you provide from someone else? Make sure your clients are aware of your full range of products including offers and updates. I would suggest the best approach would be to review and identify gaps then call your clients with a pitch in mind.
  • Speak to your referral partners, particularly ones you have not heard from in a while. Having a coffee with them is never a bad idea as they may need a reminder or have some questions. The right nurturing of such contacts can make a big difference to your sales.
  • Get back in touch with old prospects. We have already said that January is the time for planning which is true with your prospects as well. Even if they said no in the past, their circumstances may have changed. In addition, I am sure you will find some who you stopped contacting for some reason, in which case getting back in touch is a must.

I hope this is helpful and has given you some ideas you have not considered.  Here at Your Business Development Team we will be keen to help you if we can. Here are a few options you could explore:

  1. Supporting your new BD strategy
  2. Supporting your lead generation effort
  3. Supporting your lead nurturing efforts

We have also launched a new Big Ticket Lead Generation product which you can learn more about here. Happy to chat and discuss the best option so give us a call.

 

What will you buy your business this Christmas?

It hit me a few days ago, as I was eyeing some iPad Pros at a well-known shop: we should all buy our business a Christmas present even if it’s just another excuse to buy another present. Having thought about it a bit more I realised that whilst an iPad will be lovely, the top three things on my list of presents for my business in 2019 are:

  1. Growth
  2. Security
  3. Joy

I wonder if you have ever thought about it yourself.  Whether you are a business owner or senior manager in a larger organisation, there must be things you wish for your business in 2019. Self employed or not, we all spend so much time at work that we should wish to make it a nicer place for us to be.

If you are hoping for similar gifts to me, you might think that the concept of buying these for yourself a complete nonsense. How can you buy growth and where do they sell security not to talk about joy? All true but as it is nearly Christmas, I would like to remind you of a lovely quote from Eleanor Roosevelt:

‘The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams’

Before you accuse me of having too many sherries way too early, here are a few things you might consider which can affect these elements in your business:

Growth: It’s a big word so why not break it to its components,

  • Planning: There will be hundreds of free planning workshop to chose from in January, why don’t you book yourself on one of them or consider signing up with a good coach?
  • Skills: Are there any areas, professional, technical or general that could contribute to growth in your business? Consider some training courses for you and the team.
  • -Marketing/ lead generation: Creating a good campaign or re-designing your website can make a difference to new sales. To make sure you get results, put together a strategy for your business.

Security: This is a bit misleading because we actually have very little control over what happens around us. However, you can consider the little that you can affect, things like:

  • Forecasting: How good are you at analysing your sales pipeline? Many of us lose the will to live when it comes to detail analysis of Excel spreadsheets or CRM reports but getting better at it can do wonders for identifying potential problems in advance.
  • Sales Pipeline: There is nothing that affects sales more than a developed pipeline. You should always consider short term as well as long term opportunities to ensure that new sales are flowing

Joy: We all tend to underestimate joy as a real focus. It is often thought of as a by-product of living a full life, but it isn’t necessarily so. For me, the two most important elements of joy are:

  • Interest: is your work still interesting and challenging? If not, it might be time to alter what you do and shift things a little.
  • People: Are you surrounded by people you enjoy spending time with? Are they doing a good job helping you develop things? If not, it might be something to consider for the New Year

I hope this has given you some food for thought. Here at Your Business Development Team, we want to wish you a merry Christmas and offer you a little present from us: Click here to download a copy of our 13 creative lead generation ideas document.

See you in 2019…

Why you should re-invent yourself this winter and other thoughts about common sense

This week I was reminded of a great quote from Voltaire: ‘Common sense is not so common’. I like this quote because you can read it in two different ways,

  1. Most people lack common sense
  2. Finding agreement on the right sense is not common

I choose to read it as the latter and I feel that Brexit is a very good example of it. Talking to people about current events, as I do, I came to realise that there are many ways in which we read the situation. Whilst some believe the economic market will suffer a decline in the short-medium term, others think it will only affect companies trading with Europe. I even heard that some people feel that if we stay positive there is no reason why there will be a recession at all.  Go figure, as no one really knows any of these views could be right, so it becomes a matter of the not so common sense.

So, why do I think you should consider re-inventing yourself this winter?

Here are two good reasons:

  1. According to Harvard Business Review jumping from the maturity stage of one business to the growth stage of the next—is what separates high performers from those whose time at the top is all too brief.
  2. As Matthew S. Olson and Derek van Bever demonstrate in their book Stall Points, ,once a company runs up against a major stall in its growth, it has less than a 10% chance of ever fully recovering.

Both are good reasons because whether you would like to be a high performer business or ensure that your business does recover from an economic downturn in the New Year, you should consider re-inventing yourself this winter.

How do you go about re-inventing your business model?

There are numerous books and articles out there for you to explore but essentially you need to consider two things first:

  • Are you going to come up with a completely new product?
  • Are you going to consider taking your exiting products to new markets?

The answer is very much down to your current business model, your market and the make-up of your company. Whichever way you choose to go, you need to consider two important factors:

  1. Developing new business can take time to mature, anything between 6-12 months.
  2. The longer you leave it the more competition you will have

This is why I recommend that you look into this urgently to make sure that you can start widening your options and developing your sales pipeline. We have recently developed a new lead generation system which we believe can support this process well. In September we run a workshop to share our new system and got some great feedback. Click here to find out more.

 

 

Why you should consider new markets now

You might think that this is a fairly obvious thing to do if you are in business but market research I carried out last year proved that most established companies get most of their business from existing business and referrals; in fact the average was 70% of new sales.

There are many reasons why you should not consider new markets, here are just a few:

  1. Referrals and repeat business work are much more profitable
  2. The conversion rate is much higher
  3. New markets can be risky and expensive to explore

I agree with all of the above and would go as far as saying that if your business does not get at least 50% of its new sales from referrals and repeat business, something must be wrong. There is no denying that when you call a prospect who was referred to you, it’s a much nicer conversation which does not require you to get out of your comfort zone.

So why should you explore new markets this autumn?

I believe that generally, your business always needs to be moving forward because standing still is not an option. But at the moment there is a very pressing reason to consider exploring new markets because whatever you think of Brexit, it will affect the UK market greatly. This may well mean that many companies will have less money to spend and will therefore cut back on purchasing, affecting the rate of your repeat business. This might also mean that by default, you will therefore need to work with more companies in order to preserve your sales revenue.

You might still wonder why this means that you need to explore new markets and you will be right because new business can come from two main sources:

  • Working with more companies in your existing market
  • Working with more companies in new markets

Both will work and both will require you to go out looking for new business you don’t already deal with. Whichever way you choose to go, you need to consider two important factors:

  1. Developing new business can take time to mature, anything between 6-12 months.
  2. The longer you leave it the more competition you will have

This is why I recommend that you look into this urgently to make sure that you can start widening your options and developing your sales pipeline. We have recently developed a new lead generation system which we believe can support this process well. Click here to find out more.

Have you got a plan B?

I have recently found myself in need of plan B since the last quarter has not gone as well as expected. Whilst the first two quarters of 2018 were very successful for us, we found quarter three to be slow. There are many factors that may have affected this but identifying these did not change the fact that I needed an alternative plan and I did not have one.

To aid my thinking, I put plan B into Google in the hope that some helpful plans might come up, only to discover that Plan B is actually an English hip hop recording artist from the 80’s. I looked further and found lots of advice on how to construct your business plan including doing your market research, checking out your competition, getting your financial information right etc. But nothing about constructing a plan B; I guess it might not be such a priority in business planning.

You’ll be happy to know that after some careful research, I did find interesting advice. Here are a few examples:

  • The hip voice:

Don’t expect things to go to plan and you will always be ready to shift your plan is the main advice from David Kadavy of the Mission Podcast. According to David, ‘Things almost never go according to plan—and that’s okay.’ The solution, according to David, is to ‘remember things won’t go as planned. You can make it part of the plan to not have a plan.’

Whilst I agree that not sticking to your plan at any cost is a good idea, I found this approach a little too relaxed and acknowledging my anxious composition I looked for alternative, more ‘old school’ types of advice:

  • The sensible voice:

The Dummies Blog seems to deliver on this front and suggests considering three areas of change in your business focus:

  1. Redefine your product by re-assessing your product concept and the benefit it brings to your target market. This process could mean that you bring out a new product to attract a new market or make some shifts which will help you target your current market better.
  2. Move your business to another dimension or location. This could mean that you move your showroom to another area or make it easier for people to approach your business on-line depending on your specific circumstances.
  3. Revamp your operation and processes through considering whether you need new equipment, skills or staff. To me this area of focus must first and foremost include an assessment of your sales process, lead generation and conversion rate. This is because without new sales, your business growth will be threatened.

Whether like me, you found your business has slowed down recently or you were getting nervous reading that 77% of SME’s are not ready for Brexit, I think we all agree there is a change afoot early next year. If there was ever a good time to construct a plan B, it’s now.  Check out how we might be able to help your lead generation and sales strategy refocus here or get in touch to discuss further.

 

 

Quality over quantity, top tips to building your new business database

Good old Emil Zola must have seen a glimpse of the future when he said, ’If I cannot overwhelm you with my quality, I will overwhelm you with my quantity.’  I am not entirely sure what he meant by it but these days we see plenty of examples of people trying to impress us with their quantity, rather than quality.

2018 has seen the data debate take to centre stage through the introduction of GDPR, which was introduced to stop the unauthorised use of personal data. There was much talk about the change it would bring beforehand, but we hear very little of it now. Dare I say that not much has changed in terms of B2B e-mail in my in-box. Even so, assuming that, like me, you think that communicating to a smaller but engaged audience is better, you might want to consider how you build this database in the first place.

Let’s consider some different methods to building your database:

Method Advantages Disadvantages
Buying a data list -Providing a solid start

-Allowing you to communicate with the right industries and decision makers

– The data is very cold which affects the speed of conversion

-Very niche markets can be hard to identify

Using your own client and contact list -Building on your existing industry knowledge

-Communications will be better received as it’s a familiar audience

– Much of the data might be out of date

-The list may not be very strategic in terms of new and target markets

-GDPR compliance is questionable

Using Social Media platforms to build your following -This is potentially a very engaged audience as they have connected with you

 

-Using this data outside of the specific platform can be difficult

-Many contacts will not appreciate a direct approach

Using digital funnels or landing pages to attract interested parties -As this method is based on targeting people who searched for your product or service it has the potential to provide you with highly qualified leads -Because this method is so specific it can be very slow in terms of building a database

 

Once more we have concluded that there is no one winner and no silver bullet. My advice would be to use a variety, if not all, of the above methods to communicate with your target audiences. The important thing is to create an overarching strategy which governs your marketing and lead generation system thus making it focused and tailored to your business.

This means that you have a specific process in which your funnel works, which involves several activities happening at the same time. Such a system will ensure that you are seen in front of the right audience at a volume and frequency that allows you to develop a substantial pipeline based on your new business conversion rate.

If it sounds interesting, check out  our system here or give me a call to discuss your requirements.