You don’t think of yourself as a salesperson, right? You do other things at work – not just selling!
But is it also true that, if people at your level DON’T do some business development work, the future of your firm is compromised?
If you’re still reading, you’re probably living with anxiety about the business development part of your job.
Of course, if potential clients CALL YOU, you’ll be more than happy to serve them.
But you’re not reaching out. You may not even be networking, when opportunities present themselves.
And in the long run, you’re going to fail.
I've spent the last 20 years observing and supporting professionals who need to do some business development:
- Consultants whose practices have stopped growing.
- Accountants making arguments for why their revenue projections are DOWN.
- Scientists who aren't bringing in the money they need to do the research they want to do.
- Business owners who are great at what they do – but lousy at connecting with people who might actually choose to buy.
Here’s some good news: these people don’t need “sales skills,” really.
They need the motivation to DO SOME OUTREACH, consistently, methodically, on an ongoing basis.
Try answering these questions. I've provided my answers to them, too.:
- What’s the biggest mistake people make in selling?
Answer: It’s lack of outreach, and then lack of follow-up.
- Why do you hate selling so much?
Answer: Usually it’s that you hate being sold, so, of course, you hate to be selling others. You're afraid of being a slimy, won't-take-no-for-an-answer pain in the butt! And you hate being rejected (by the way, 100% of the human race hates rejection!)
- What’s the minimum level of selling most people can get by on?
Answer: It varies, but for many professionals, spending just 5% of their work week on the business development aspect of their jobs will yield significant results. (5% of a 40-hour workweek is 2 hours a week, spent consistently on nothing but business development.) Note that I am not writing, here, about people who were hired to be salespeople. Those people should spend a much greater percentage of their time in business development! But if you have lots of other responsibilities – you sell, and you deliver services, and you have administrative responsibilities, let’s say -- a well-spent 5% of your workweek spent on bus dev could be enough!
- So if you did decide to do more business development, what would you actually DO?
Answer: Most people say, “Call some of the business cards I've accumulated.” But that’s often not the best strategy. There’s often gold in renewing your relationships with past clients.
- Is it a good strategy to try to develop relationships with people who might buy from you?
Answer: Sometimes. But statistically you have a better chance of success when you challenge your prospects. Let them know that there’s something new they should be aware of, and be clear that you'll be happy to update them. We’re all overloaded with information we can’t digest; suggest that you’ll be happy to share a few nuggets of information they can use immediately. By the way, I just did that: did you know that relationship selling is now the least successful approach to selling new clients, and that challenger selling is the best?
The key to success in business development is to make time for it. Once you’re committed to that, you may want to get a few nuggets of information about specific selling approaches that are most likely to bring in new clients and new revenue for you in today’s marketplace. And you may also want to build in some accountability; a Sales Coach will hold feet to the fire to DO the behaviors that are most likely to drive new revenue.