Have you noticed that business development seems to be more of an uphill climb, heading into 2023?
Seriously – getting your message in front of the right people has gotten more and more difficult.
Our knee-jerk reaction is to blame the ease of virtual meetings, but let’s take a deeper dive into why this is happening, and see if we can find some solutions:
- People seem exceptionally busy
From the inability to find workers leaving companies short-staffed to continued post-pandemic momentum (and catch-up), it seems that everyone is at lightning pace right now.
Companies are asking their employees to do more in the same amount of time to cover the positions that they can’t fill, and it’s having dire effects on people’s capacity.
As a result, getting face time with people – especially when they’re well-aware that your ultimate goal is to sell them something – is difficult right now.
All of the tools of the trade, including building relationships based on mutual value, networking and the “seven touches” rule still work… There’s just an added element of being more respectful of people’s time that plays into every interaction now.
- The new generation of salesperson does things very differently
“I’m better working on LinkedIn and going to networking events.”
I’ve heard this complaint from CEOs for years now – even before the pandemic… And, while there’s probably some over-embellishment and cliché involved with their frustration, it is a problem.
For two years during covid, we all tried to figure out how to effectively network from our desks – many of us from our homes, shut in by the pandemic.
It’s safe to say at this point… It doesn’t work.
Yes, there are great examples of companies that grew during the pandemic, but it seems that those did a good job of filling urgent needs for people.
It wasn’t traditional business development that got the job done.
Problem is… Habits were formed, and now getting people to understand that a successful business development strategy requires many different facets (including picking up the phone and knocking on doors) has been a challenge.
Those who are doing it are succeeding.
The rest? Well, their bosses complain about them, because their companies or fundraising efforts aren’t growing.
- Massive noise in the marketplace
The other challenge of trying to get your message through to your prospects is that everyone else is trying to do the same thing.
No matter what kind of media you choose, it is becoming more and more difficult to separate what’s actually valuable to us from straight-up garbage.
It’s enough to make you just shoo away anyone trying to get to you.
Which means that good products and services that actually solve problems for companies often aren’t getting the time of day.
If someone doesn’t know you exist, they will buy from you ZERO percent of the time.
These challenges are real, and businesses and not-for-profit organizations looking to grow in 2023 will continue to face them as we get them figured out through new processes, innovations and technologies.
That being said, none of us can wait.
We need to grow our companies, or raise funds, or move our mission forward right now.
So, how do we attack these business development challenges?
Obviously, you’re on rel8ed.to’s blog, so we’re going to lead you down a path of using data to strengthen your business development processes, but hopefully in doing so we give you some things to think about that we know will make your life easier.
1. Better lead targeting
“Casting a wide net” is an appropriate business strategy for many industries.
But it’s also a strategy that will frustrate busy salespeople.
You know your products, services and value proposition.
You know what kinds of clients you can best serve.
So, when you’re setting up your business development strategy, shouldn’t you be working off of a prospect list made up of those kinds of companies?
Yes, your offerings may be a commodity that have benefit to anyone and everyone, but even so there are prospective clients that are a perfect fit for the value you provide.
Why would you not focus your efforts there?
One of the services that we provide at rel8ed.to Analytics, in our suite of Big Data solutions, is the ability to create a “lookalike” list from your current clients and best targets.
Using your list of optimal targets for you, our algorithms can identify prospects in your market that should be your clients.
Not can be your clients. Should be your clients.
Want to energize your sales team? Give them a list of prime candidates for your products and services, allowing them to present your company as the missing piece of their puzzle.
2. Being prepared to make the most of your time
Old-school salespeople were famous for learning so much about all of their their clients that they knew family birthdays, the kids’ hobbies, and their favorite brand of whiskey.
That all comes as part of relationship building, and effective salespeople still know how to build those kinds of personal-and-professional connections, because they go a long way.
But likely you’re not going to have that kind of information yet when you’re prospecting, so where can you at least get a running start?
There are lots of tools available, starting, of course, with social media, to find what makes people tick, and doing some research before reaching out might be part of your process.
Our company is called rel8ed.to, not just because it sounds cool (and we know it does!), but because it’s the foundational principle on which our work is built.
The key to analyzing data is to be able to identify the relationships that it provides.
Many people order a list of companies for their business development efforts, and they treat it just like that: a list.
For us, a list of companies isn’t just a report – it’s a story.
Within any project we do on behalf of a client are connections and relationships that they likely didn’t know existed when they put in the order.
We pride ourselves – in fact, it’s what makes rel8ed.to different from other data companies – on our ability to create new storylines from the data we read.
We designed our Diligence platform, available through chambers of commerce and other business associations, to allow access to that approach.
Not just a portal to data records, but a set of systems and tools to unveil connections that will be critical to your building a relationship with the people you’re reaching out to.
What can you learn about your prospects before you even have an initial contact?
3. Focus on your best opportunities
There’s only so much time in the day.
So, how do you want your sales team spending theirs?
If you’ve identified who your best customer is, wouldn’t you want your sales team focusing as much as possible on putting themselves in front of those very people?
This is where we’re trying to get you, with all of this talk about incorporating data analytics into your business development process.
What prospects are going to buy your highest-margin products and services, be the most satisfied with what you offer, and bring you long-term, consistent recurring business?
Does that mean alienating the one-time, one-shot business? Not at all.
But it does mean that you’re not wasting valuable marketing resources hunting them down.
Instead, you’re using powerful data, intimate knowledge of your products and services, and strong storytelling to put your marketing dollars and your sales team’s time toward the best opportunities for return on your investment.
Why is this more important now than ever before?
Because of everything we said above: limited resources, limited attention span and limited capacity.
For those times when your sales team is doing exactly what they should be doing – it’s in your best interest to do everything you can to tee up success for them.
Rel8ed is here to help you do that.
Want to put the power of Big Data to work for your business development strategies? Get in touch with us here.