Tips For More Sales and Business Development

Are you a good selling or business development professional? What distinguishes you from the remainder of the pack?

With over 27 years of experience working with those that develop business and sell for a living I find the following characteristics:

1- Those that seek relationships not a commission check

2- Do not procrastinate, using the hours in the day wisely to be with prospective and current clients

3- Do not waste “windshield time” on wasteful things or nothing

4- Reads voraciously to understand competitive intelligence that aids the client

5- Establishes a strategic account profile to understand prospective client opportunities and limitations

6- Knows the economic buyer in their accounts and does not waste time with gatekeepers

7- Think strategically not tactically to engage buyers

8- Learning the client’s business and discovering methods to assist them now and in the future

9- Prepare provocative questions that engage and enlighten

10-Knows when to listen and when to speak

11-Networks constantly to meet new buyers

12-Engages a sales process

13-Creates emotion and has a passion for the sales process

14-Believes in what they are selling

15-Nurtures relationships with proper customer service, returning all calls and emails in a timely manner

16-Uses and respects the relevance of CRM reporting useful data to upper management

17-Understands the importance of customer to customer influences on account management

18-Thinks in terms of client outcomes, not units sold

19-Dresses professionally and is ready to engage with every client

20-Has poise and flexibility to engage gatekeeper and buyer ethically

Use the following as a checklist for your selling professionals if you are a manager or for you personally if you sell for a living. Check back periodically to determine methods to make you a more effective seller to alleviate time and develop more business.

©2010. Drew Stevens PhD. All Rights Reserved.

Top 10 Trends in Sales and Business Development for 2014

Will companies be hiring more salespeople in 2014? What will companies do to stand out from the competition? Will CRM systems expand or contract? How will the economy impact business growth? These are some common questions I hear as I address audiences around the world. Here are my predictions for the ideas and trends that will shape sales and business development in 2014.

1. Evolution of Subject Matter Experts

Buyers can now get just about all of the information about your company, products, and services from your website. However, what they do not have is the trends, best practices, or creative applications that determine whether or not there is a fit for the customer’s situation. Buyers will continue to value the subject matter experts.

If you want to know whether or not you rise to this standard already, ask yourself if your ideal clients would value the meeting from your team enough that they would pay for the session. If so, then you might already be there. If not, then you have a goal for 2014.

2. Content Becomes Emperor

Last year, people said, “content is king.” In 2014, content will continue to be the core to building value and getting heard above the noise. Buyers (and Google) value the best educators, as Marcus Sheridan of TheSalesLion.com says. It used to be that companies feared sharing their best stuff on their websites. As more initial investigations for solutions move to search engines, your ability to stand out from the crowd comes down to whether or not you are addressing the most important questions for your ideal customer. If you are stuck with your head in the sand, you might just get run over.

3. Continued Shift Toward Vertical vs. Geographic Focus

The shift from vertical to geographic focus tends to work in cycles. With the advancement in video-based communication and collaborative technologies, geography becomes slightly less of a big deal. However, the increased value placed on subject matter expertise will shift the table in a big way in 2014 toward vertical markets.

4. Collaborative Sourcing and Selling

Over the past five years, there was a trend of buyers beating up on weaker suppliers. While the short-term goal of the buyer was a reduction in costs, the unintended consequence was the destruction of many suppliers and companies who either lacked a competitive advantage, or failed to identify their lack of negotiation and sales prowess before it was too late. Ultimately, buyers lost a portion of their supply chain. The more sophisticated buyers will seek sellers with whom they can work collaboratively to obtain the greatest value. Buyers realize that the cheapest price has little meaning if the vendor cannot deliver as needed.

Collaborative selling will reward results and outcomes, but will continue to punish those selling commodities.

5. The Shift Toward Project-Based Services Engagements

Buyers have discovered that paying by the hour creates a disincentive for innovation and efficiency. The longer it takes the vendor, the more they earn. However, for the client, the faster they get a solution, the better. The hourly-vendor who delivers the most efficiently makes the least money. In 2014, the top performing professional services organizations will start shifting as much as 30% of their billing to project-based, or outcome-based pricing (with assumptions to protect themselves). Buyers want results, and they’ll pay for it. However, the savvy customer rarely wants to sign a blank check for hours of time without a defined outcome.

6. Sick of Waiting for the Economy – Build your own

Most economists say that the economy will continue to bump along in 2014. Innovative companies with a great story will start putting their capital reserves to work to build their own economy. The economy grows when businesses grow. And, those with creativity and value will get tired of waiting for the so-called “economy” and will build their own environment to thrive. This will drive accelerated growth in the latter half of 2014 to carry into a strong 2015.

7. Hiring Trend for 2014

Recognize that there is a need for subject matter experts. Be on the lookout for businesses cross-training their subject matter experts on how to manage a sales process. Those who do hire sales professionals or sales managers will rely more on specialized recruiters to ensure their next hire is the right one. Hiring people who were just looking for work has burned many companies. Often, the hiring companies discovered that those people were out of work for a reason. There are great ways to find a gem without using a recruiter, but recruiters are still the best way to attract superstars from other companies.

8. Simplified CRM Solutions

Years ago, companies realized they needed something beyond a spreadsheet (or napkin) to keep track of their business pursuits. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solutions emerged to maintain knowledge, automate forecasting, and improve communication. However, over time, the CRM solutions have taken on a life of their own. The data entry requirements had become so overbearing that few organizations enforced compliance (mostly because the only people who filled out all of the fields were the worst performing reps). Look for a shift in 2014 for companies to identify the top eight (or three) pieces of information they need to understand if a deal is legitimate or not. They will ask reps to maintain fewer pieces of information, but will require compliance.

9. Better Qualification for Efficient Pipelines

It used to be that if a company was trying to reach $5 million in revenue, it would often look for a pipeline of $8 to $10 million. Today, companies often set a three to five-time multiplier. So, for $5 million, they pursue $15 million to $25 million in opportunities. Sharp organizations have started tracking the cost associated with pursuing unlikely deals. Instead of chasing everything, companies will define specific criteria for what makes a good pursuit, and which ones should be dead on arrival. The definition maintains focus, and preserves resources for the proper pursuit of the opportunities that deserve the company’s attention. Look for companies to qualify based on the relative impact and importance to the customer of solving the issue, rather than the desire of the company to sell something.

10. Honesty Prevails

With so much hype and old-school tactics, buyers will reward sellers who identify their own limitations. Claiming you are an expert at everything will be hard to believe when the buyer can search to discover the truth. Humility and candor will be sought after skills in 2014.

Business Development Certificate – Steps to Earning a Certificate

Many people are now turning to online courses to supplement their current business knowledge. This includes earning a business development certificate, which is a credential that is beneficial in a variety of different sectors. Whether you are working in sales, public relations, event planning, or any other different areas of the business world, you will want to be sure that your knowledge and skills are up to date with what is going on in the market today. This type of certificate can be earned completely online, from the comfort of your own home, which makes it a convenient option for the business professional or home executive.

The first step to achieving your business development certificate is to attend the online courses, and do the required reading. This will give you all the knowledge that you need to study for the eventual exam at the end of the course’s progression. During the course itself you will be under the supervision of your qualified instructor, who is able to facilitate discussions, and ensure that any questions that you may have will be answered. Some homework or discussion questions may need to be completed before attending online seminars, to help facilitate this level of group discussion.

After the coursework part of the business development certificate course has been completed, the next step is then to start studying for the exam. There is an official business development exam that all professionals are required to take to receive this credential. All of the information that you need to know will have been already covered within the online coursework and reading material that you have already covered during the initial five months of the course study. However, it’s recommended to go over it again on your own time just as a refresher course, to be sure that you are able to pass the exam without problems.

On exam day, you will then need to complete the questions that are asked, and possibly write an essay in some courses. At the completion of this exam, if you have answered an adequate amount of questions correctly, you will then be awarded the official business development certificate. This will then let you go on to have access to a wider range of opportunities, including the possibility to advance further within your own business, but also to find a new company to work for. Any added credentials are always a good idea to be competitive in today’s job market.

The Four Top Secrets of Business Development and Risk Management

Everyone loves a winner! In the business world, the more money you make, the more effective and successful you and your business become. This truism is consistently born out by top business owners who take their ideas to market. But what are their secrets? Invariably, their success is the natural outcome of effective business development and risk management. They accomplish this by following the four steps outlined below.

1. Think About It!

All business activity begins with having an idea. Successful business people are thinking all the time about their business and how they can take it to the next level of development. In his classic book, “Think and Grow Rich,” Napoleon Hill starts at this very point when divulging his findings about successful businessmen, such as Andrew Carnegie. In fact, his book title starts with the word “THINK.”

In business however, thinking is never divorced from knowing and doing. These three processes of thinking, knowing and doing feed on and fold back on each other in a never-ending cycle of focusing energy and productivity.

2. Focus on Customer Needs

Successful business people take their ideas to the next stage of satisfying a customer need or want. All of their thinking is channeled into supplying a product or service that will address a problem that people are experiencing. Customers will pay money for a product if it solves a problem and therefore helps them to achieve their goals.

In the 1870’s gold rush era, the entrepreneurs who often made the most money were not the gold miners, but the business people who supplied the shovels and mining equipment. These enterprising individuals did not rely on building wealth by merely striking it lucky. They thought about their opportunities and then applied their knowledge in a manner that ensured that they would become very rich indeed.

3. Develop Your Reputation by Consistently Delivering Value for Money

Successful business people think, apply that knowledge and deliver a product or service that they know customers actually want and benefit from. Obviously, there is no use in having the world’s greatest idea if nobody wants it. There have been countless stories told of the follies of individuals who had what they thought was a brilliant solution to a problem that nobody else appreciated. Great amounts of time and energy, as well as investment capital, have gone into whacky inventions that nobody wanted. Business development and risk management are addressed by focusing on what the customer wants and needs.

4. Develop Your Character

This character building is achieved by developing yourself in and around the steps mentioned above, ie, thinking, doing and knowing. This element of character building in successful people seems to occur as a direct result of the activities that they engage in and the endeavours that they pursue.

The characteristics of successful business people include; courage and audacity, persistence, resolve, determination, building relationships with others, thinking team and believing that they are not alone in the world, curiosity, always learning, “street smarts” (seeing the angles), being responsible and being responsive.

So, in summary, the four steps followed by top business owners and leaders to ensure effective business development and risk management are:

– They think – this thinking is never divorced from action

– They are customer-need focused – what does the customer really need?

– They deliver value for money – the investment made fixes the problem

– They build their reputation – happens as a byproduct of being constantly involved in the first three endeavours.