Recently, I’ve seen a lot of worried people. Sales are down. Margins are tight. Campaigns are shorter. Buyers are cautious. It’s tough out there. So what does a self-respecting business development person do? The pressure from inside organisations is high. Everyone wants their bit of the business to be the focus for Biz Dev.
We are all under increasing time pressures. We have tons of priorities and little time to achieve everything. Yet despite this, so few people I meet give serious consideration to the psychology of the people and companies they are targeting.
Everyone needs new business. Well maybe apart from funeral directors, insolvency practitioners, debt collectors and tax officials.
Coupled with the fact that everyone is clamouring for new business, there is sadly little real differentiation nowadays. There are literally thousands of every type of business and in this climate buyers are spoilt for choice. And most of them are trying the same tired old approaches to new business development.
We’ve recently been doing new business strategy work with companies. I have been surprised at how limited their thinking is in terms of how they approach new business. Offer clients what you offered them in the past. Develop the odd special offer or reduce price a bit. Hit them with some marketing and hope for the best.
Consumers no longer put up with shallow or straight line marketing. Granted, buyers don’t want a relationship with every company and brand. Yet most companies need to create a relationship with people in some way in order to stand out. In b2b it is often said that you need to build knowledge, like and trust to succeed. I would add that your communications need to add:
- Relevance – what’s in it for me? Why should I give you my money and/or time?
- Value – If you want their trust before they buy your product or service, you have to earn it
Of course, these aren’t the only things we want. However, it struck me recently that we often forget we are consumers and we engage with companies when it suits us not when it suits them. That’s why companies that have personality and that provide genuine interest for customers will win out in the end.
I recently attended a webinar for online lead generation. The title hooked me. The providers of the webinar were Marketing Week magazine and Citrix. So they got my attention and credibility. At the end, I went away and researched some more. I then did purchase webinar software. The reason was simple. It was relevant to my business. It adds value to our lead generation offering. It was at the right time and the credit crunch meant that the price was better than perhaps in the past. Equally, the service providers were consistent and persistent in their sales approach. However, I drove the purchase once I had understood the relevance and value.
Yes, I was clearly well targeted and that’s important. However, I see so many companies still hell bent on push marketing. The time is now right to consider the following:
- How can you add value and relevance to my potential customers in advance of the sale?
- How can you enter into a genuine dialogue with prospects that isn’t simply ‘straight line’ marketing?
- How do you differentiate your business when there are so many me-too providers?
- Who can you partner with that also serves your customers?
- Who already has a relationship with your customers?
- Do you genuinely know what your potential customers want in terms of a relationship or dialogue with your kind of product or service?
There are many more questions to ask. When doing new business, really think about whether the straight line approach will work. Don’t just send a mailshot or make a standard and undifferentiated cold call. Don’t just make a call to say ‘we’re great, we do great work, we are great to deal with, we get great results, we have great clients and credentials‘. Mostly, clients don’t want to know or care. Their incumbent probably satisfies the same criteria. So think about how to engage in advance of the time that a potential customer is ready to buy. There are lots of options:
- Webinars or events that provide something of genuine interest
- Research that allows the recipient of the information to really learn something that helps him/her do their job better.
- Information that is fresh and provides a new perspective on what they do
- An added value offer that compliments something they are already doing.
To discuss your approach to business development by all means give us a call or visit our website. You can find our details there. If you’d also like to take advantage of government funding to help you define and refine your new biz strategy, just give us a call and we shall explain all!