Category Archives: Strategy

Blogs under this category explore strategy in lead generation and the many marketing methods that fall under this term.

Bruce Springsteen knows all about sustainable sales results, do you?

We often lead our blogs with a quote from a writer or speaker on sales techniques, but inspiration for how you approach sales improvement can come from many sources. In this case Bruce Springsteen “Getting an audience is hard. Sustaining an audience is hard. It demands a consistency of thought, of purpose and of action over a long period of time.”  

As someone who has built a successful career on consistency and developing relationships with his audience, The Boss is a good role model when it comes to looking at the process which goes on in the mind of the customer when they are moving towards a decision to buy from you. All successful selling follows a process of building and developing relationships. These can take some time to solidify and yield results. To be effective the process of taking the initial interest and nurturing it needs to be very specific and based on a clear understanding of the prospect’s requirements and expectations.

The best way of achieving that understanding is to have a carefully crafted sales process that follows your customer’s journey from the initial interest through to cementing the relationship. Your Business Development Team works with our clients to create a tailored sales process which is the essential first step towards converting more prospects. Identifying and refining your target markets and the key points that will encourage them to buy from you leads into the sales process that guides them to an understanding of your business and how it will work for them. With the sales process in place YBDT can help you communicate it to your sales teams and support its roll out into your business.

Identifying and nurturing the prospects who will contribute to your sales growth is as we have said before, time consuming. We have pointed out in earlier blogs that it can take anything from five to eight contacts to bring a company to the point where they are ready to buy, and it’s a point we can’t make often enough as so many businesses give up early in the process. Using our specialist business development team to call the prospects in your sales pipeline to feed consistent high-quality leads into your account managers and salespeople frees their time up to concentrate on closing sales and supporting existing client retention.

Bruce Springsteen’s first two albums were commercial failures. But he had the building blocks in place to understand what his audience wanted from him, and the tools to deliver it, and used them to create the successful work that followed. YBDT can offer you the tools to build a consistent process which will lead to your sales success. Get in touch to learn more about how we can help you generate, nurture, and convert your prospects.

Can you build your business on referrals alone?

Here is a great quote from the American politician, Bob Bennet: ‘in sales, referral is the key to the door of resistance’. I could not agree more and nor can most companies we speak to. So much so that it is very common to hear business owners and sales directors say that their conversion goes up to as much as 90% when following up on referrals.

So why are referrals so much better than a lead?

It might be worth understanding the difference first, here is Ivan Misner’s definition:

‘A lead is a contact that may come from any number of sources. The contact is generally not expecting your call.  A referral is the opportunity to do business. When you contact them, they already know who you are and what you do. It is stronger than just a lead in that this prospect has talked to your mutual acquaintance and is generally expecting your call.’

For me, it’s not so much about the prospect expecting your call, you can get that through other methods of lead generation, but more about the building of familiarity and trust. This is what happens when someone they trust recommend you and effectively make you an extension of them in the eyes of the prospect. In a competitive market, it can be very hard to decide which supplier to use. The less you know about the topic you are looking to resolve, the harder is it to trust a third party, a good referral is therefore a great way to save time and make a better decision.

How can your business get more referrals then?

You could say that referrals happen over time through the building of your brand and reputation. In a perfect world, if you work hard and do a good job, customers should be coming to you. This is why many established companies see 70% of their business coming from referrals and repeat business which helps them build longevity and success. Whilst it will be great if you could just focus on your work and expect referrals to come to you, there are two key questions you need to consider here:

  1. How do clients purchase your product and service? Is it a very competitive industry you are in? What is the key deciding factor?
  2. How well do you stand out against your competition, do you really make a difference to your clients? Will they be happy to sing your praises?

In my experience, if you operate in a niche market and offer a unique service, you will get more referrals as there are not many people who do what you do. However, if like most businesses, you operate in a competitive market, you will need to build referral partner relationships to increase your referral rates. This can be done through a number of channels including formal and informal networking as well as client referral schemes and more.

However you get there, building an effective referral network depends on two key factors:

  •   Being clear on who you want to work with and why
  • Making a real difference to clients through your work

These may sound obvious, but they take some thinking and changing. 68% of customers who stop buying from an organisation do so simply because of a perceived indifference. When it comes to building referral partnerships, this can become even a bigger issue, making it hard for people to refer you effectively.

So, can you build your business on referrals alone?

At YBDT we prefer to have several funnels providing new business leads into our company. This is because whilst referrals are easier to convert, they depend on your networks’ availability and access to prospects who need your services at a given time. Therefore, you will find that referral numbers fluctuate greatly from month to month making them hard to forecast.

So, if you are looking to grow your business you will want to create other options to give you and even flow of new leads. However, referrals are key and learning how to become more effective at generating them is important. Our next sales enablement webinar will be offering tips on how to do just that, click on the link below for more information and registration: https://www.yourbizdevteam.co.uk/ybdt-lunchtime-webinar-20220322.php

Mindset affects everything including business growth

We all know that the human brain can do amazing things some great and some not so great. When looking up the difference between human and animal brains I found the following statement:

‘The main difference between humans’ brains and animals’ brains is that humans’ brain have a remarkable cognitive capacity, which is a crowning achievement of evolution whereas animals’ brains show comparatively less cognitive capacity.’

Mindset certainly falls within our cognitive capacity. The term growth mindset was coined by Carol Dweck of Stanford University. The theory categorizes human learning and intelligence patterns into two categories – fixed mindset and growth mindset.

When individuals believe that they can improve their abilities, intelligence, and talents through their efforts, it is termed as growth mindset. On the other hand, a fixed mindset is when individuals consider that their abilities and talents are constrained to a fixed set.

So how do you know if you have a growth mindset? I am sure that you will be able to find plenty of tests online if you are that way inclined. I think there is a simple way to determine this, when you come across a new challenge, do you:

  1. Get very worried, spend your time thinking up all the reasons why you can’t do it?
  2. Get excited and engage in finding the best way to deal with it yourself?
  3. Start looking for others who might be able to help you?

I would say that if you answered 1 you have a fixed mindset and if you answered 2 or 3 you have a growth mindset. This is a very broad way of looking at things and in many cases, it will depend on the challenge and your natural tendencies as we all have our preferences and interests.

In our work as a lead generation agency, we naturally come across many companies who are looking for growth. But does this mean all of our clients have a growth mindset? Not necessarily.

Despite saying that looking for others to help you when facing a challenge is a sign of a growth mindset, this can sometimes be the tip of the iceberg. Just like in the theory of omission by Ernest Hemingway, the true story is often hidden underneath the surface. Companies approach us for two main reasons:

  1. They want to grow their understanding of business development and work in partnership with an experienced team that can offer them a tailored strategy and delivery.
  2. They want to pass the buck to someone else, who by magic, will solve all their problems or at least can be blamed for not solving them.

I am sure you can work out for yourself who has a growth mindset out of the two but more importantly, who will get more out of working with us?

Most companies face a lot of challenges when working on their sales and lead generation, it is not easy to get consistent success and keep going in a linear line. More typically, you will find that you have ups and downs. Outsourcing your lead generation to a specialist is a good idea if:

  • Your company is in the right place for it
  • You have the resource to develop the leads in-house
  • You are prepared to go on a discovery journey
  • You are looking to work in partnership

If you tick all these boxes or want to check if you do, get in touch to discuss further.

Feeling overworked? How about some lead generation?

John Lennon famously referred to life as what happens while you are busy making other plans. This quote is particularly apt now when many businesses find themselves working to capacity and beyond. According to many articles and news items, the unprecedented demand created by the pandemic has meant that many are trying to deliver 12 months’ work in 3 months, which obviously puts a lot of strain on staff and systems.

One direct result of this situation, which we come across a lot currently, is companies putting their sales operation on hold. If you have limited resources to support your existing clients and you are struggling to recruit new staff, the thought of new clients coming on board may seem like complete madness. I agree that existing clients always come first and providing good service is key to your reputation. However, I don’t think you should ever let go of your sales operation as it’s the life blood of your business.

Since most things, good or bad, do not last forever, the current surge in demand will also come to an end and you will be back to chasing new clients. This will be hard to do having abandoned your sales activity for a long period of time.  So how can you manage to keep on top of your sales operation whilst being stretched in all other directions? Here are a few ideas for your consideration:

Review your sales strategy. It may well be that you are very busy and stretched but potentially you might also be allocating the wrong resource or banging your head against a brick wall. If this is the case, reconsider your current sales strategy and operation:

  • Where would you like to be at the end of next quarter?
  • Are you approaching the right target markets?
  • Have you got the right case studies and sales collateral?
  • Are the right people in your team covering the right roles?

Review your sales process. Like many other processes, it may well be held up by various bottlenecks and unnecessary admin slowing it down:

  • Where are most opportunities being held?
  • What are the biggest obstacles?
  • What could you do more?
  • What could you do less?
  • How are you measuring success at the moment?

Consider technology and new tools. Once you have looked at reshaping your strategy, consider the tools you are currently using to makes sales happen:

  • Is your CRM working for you and the team?
  • Is the CRM set up to support your sales process?
  • Are there software tools that can support your sales operation better?
  • Could some of you selling be done using digital marketing?
  • Would an effective content marketing help?

Ask yourself if this is the time to outsource or bring in an expert? Often sales success can be stuck in your blind spot. It may well not be your area of expertise or passion. Given that you are very busy but don’t want to let go of sales, why not consider asking someone else to help?

At YBDT we can help you with both lead generation and sales consultancy which means that we take the ownership for creating a strategic, tailored plan and then deliver on it. In the past 12 months we have increased our sales consultancy offering and you can read more about it here.  Get in touch to see how we might help.

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.

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.