Top 5 Business Development Blunders

Effective communication skills are essential to successful business development. Yet they’re often under-emphasized and sometimes completely ignored. Why? Because we communicate so much and so often (approximately 20,000 words per day) we often take it for granted. But regardless of how good your product or service is and how much expertise you have in your area, it all goes to waste unless you can communicate it to others. When you actually get the chance to sit down with a potential client and discuss doing business together, don’t blow it by committing one of these big five business development blunders.

1. Talking about your product or service. Infodumping is simply telling someone all there is to know about what you’re selling. You probably cover how long you’ve been in business, who developed what, your philosophy of business, your market share and all the choices you have available. This approach is likely to leave the potential client in exactly the same place on the sales continuum as when you started. Your objective should be to get him to gravitate towards you. Go into your meeting with a strategic goal. What specifically do you want him to know, do or believe after meeting with you. Is it to place an order, sign up for a trial or believe you’re the only logical choice? Once you have a strategic goal, your destination is in sight and you can begin mapping a route to get there.

2. Not listening. No salesperson has ever listened herself out of a sale. Yet, when asked a simple question, many salespeople take it as a license to deliver a monologue. Here are three tips to practice better listening. First, use questions to discover what’s important. If the potential client says “tell me about yourself (or your product or service or company)”, respond with “what would you like to know” or “what aspect is most important to you in making a decision?” Second, never talk continuously for more than a couple of minutes without giving the other person an opportunity to speak. Third, don’t correct the other person unless it’s absolutely essential for the discussion to proceed–it rarely is and no one likes to be told he’s wrong.

3. Using sales clichés. People usually begin to lose interest the moment they feel they’re being sold. They usually begin feeling that way when they hear stock phrases such as “That’s a great question” or “What will it take to get your business today?” People need to feel like individuals, not like pieces in an assembly line. Sales clichés operate on a Pavlovian model–use a specific phrase and you’ll get the response you desire. It’s manipulative. Try shifting to a consultative approach where you’re seen as a advisor or problem-solver.

4. Failing to adapt to the situation. The problem with using a sales script is that it assumes too much. It assumes similar motivators, perspectives and situations in life. A financial planner I know has developed a very clever approach to meeting clients. He places bowls near the cash registers of higher-end restaurants in his territory. On each bowl, he places a small sign encouraging patrons to drop their business card in for a chance at a free meal at that restaurant. He goes through the cards periodically and invites someone to lunch with the understanding that he’d like a few minutes to talk about his services. When I met him for lunch, he presented his sales talk that assumed A. I had taken on a big mortgage to finance my house (I didn’t) B. I had to save for a child’s college fund (I don’t) and C. that my parents might someday need assisted living care (they’re both dead). Treat each meeting as unique and don’t assume too much.

5. Failing to distinguish features from benefits. Salespeople often focus on telling someone what a product or service is or does at the expense of what problem it solves or what pain it takes away. I once observed a commercial leasing agent show office space. As he met the clients in the building foyer, he commented on the large parking lot outside. That was a feature statement. A benefit statement would have focused on how clients would never have to search for parking or that people could always park close to the building in bad weather. Let’s say your product includes a video–that’s only a feature. The benefit is that someone can see exactly how to use your product. Apply this test to the statements you make–ask the “so what” question. If you can’t answer it, you’ve got a feature rather than a benefit.

Developing good communication skills is a result of thinking more strategically about how communication affects our interactions with others, then putting those strategies into play. When you avoid these top five blunders of business development, you’ll not only gain more business, you’ll lose less. Remember, if your idea is important, it deserves to get heard.

Business Development Certification – What Is It?

In an ever-changing business world, it’s vital to stay ahead. Clients and business owners alike expect executives and administrators to be up to date with financial knowledge, technological skills, and communications. As a result, it may be a good idea to look into certification courses to further a business career. Some of the topics that could be covered in a business development certification course could include client management, marketing techniques, business communication skills, and business development planning. This subject matter can be tailored to your own goals and interests, for the best fit to meet your ultimate business needs.

A good first step to think about before enrolling in any business development certification course would be to think about what it is that you want to achieve. Some people are interested in starting up their own business from home, for example, and want to learn the business analysis tools that will help them do this and communicate with investors for a start-up project. Others will want to find a job within a preexisting corporation, as a business analyst and valued team member. With this type of certification and training, you will learn the subject matter and language that is necessary to succeed in either type of setting.

These business development certification courses are short term, taking up far less time, money, and effort than a full course at a university. Employers value this type of certification because it shows dedication to furthering the business savvy that you already have with new tools. Those who are already successfully employed will find that this is a way to stand out from the rest of their coworkers, and show that they are ready and willing to learn new skill sets. That can lead to career advancement and a whole new world of opportunities.

Those who are serious about advancing their careers in the business world and moving from being a team member to leading a team will want to think about business development certification. This is a surefire way to show that you are serious about expanding your skill set and taking the necessary steps that you need to succeed in today’s competitive business market. With business operating on a global level, the boundaries between communications, finance, marketing, and technology have become blurred, which is why it takes constant innovation to stay on top of the game. This is one way to rapidly accelerate that skill set.

Having a Spotter in Business Development

I recently watched Mark Wahlberg’s movie Shooter “again”. I really love this movie! In the movie Shooter, actor Mark Wahlberg’s character is a sniper and he lost his spotter. He died in a maneuver that went wrong. This spotter was the sniper’s good friend and military comrade. So, he recruited actor Mike Pena as his new spotter.

The movie reminds me of business development. You know, in business development, you really should not go it alone. There should be a business development team. The team would be responsible for finding new business opportunities, pitching the company’s products and services to ideal prospects, attending pre-bid meetings, attending trade conferences, drafting bid proposals, and attending competitive interviews for short-listed vendors that have responded to solicitations for bids.

For any one deal you are going after, it would be neat to have a spotter. In business development, it would be neat to have a spotter to tell you what is out there with respect to business competitive intelligence.

The spotter was the sniper’s look out man and he would advise the sniper by calling out sayings such as:

You’ve gotta get out of there!
Incoming… 2 o’clock!
They’re right in front of you!
They’re all over the place!

Not to make light of military maneuvers, but it would be really cool to have folks looking out for you in a similar way in business development settings like government agency pre-bid meetings or competitive pitch interviews. Your spotters could tell you what the prospects’ staff and what your competition is up to. This is known as competitive intelligence. If you are in there alone, you may miss out on what others hear and see with respect to business and development and business competitive intelligence.

In the Mark Wahlberg movie Shooter, my favorite line in the movie is when an elderly, retired sniper says:

“The world ain’t what it seems. The minute you think you got it figured, you’re wrong!”.

This is precisely why it is extremely important to have a business development team. The more intelligence you can gather about who your competition is, what your competition is saying and doing, what your competition is likely to do, the better you’ll be able to figure things out. Even if you cannot afford to hire someone full time, consider paying a consultant to show up and give you feedback on what she is hearing and seeing.

By Clovia Hamilton, MBA JD – President

Lemongrass Consulting Inc.

How to Create Effective Business Development Strategies

Developing a business is never that easy. It is a vital start and the tensest part for a budding company to begin from scratch that is why you need to know and have business development strategies before stepping into the scene. These business development strategies will help you keep in track to your business success.

Just like before any game could start in a basketball game you need to have a game plan. Plan your strategy right for a good head start.

Your starting point is to know your product or services offered for your business, your target market, where they are located and how you will approach them. A lot of opportunities will open for your business once you identify these factors.

Whether you are offering a service or sell products, it is important that you know exactly your target market and set standards since there are different approaches in dealing different target market. This strategy will able you to focus on your base market and provide them their expectation from your product or services. Now if you already pointed out your target market you may identify their location for you to figure out how you will able to approach them. This is for you to have a suitable approach to your target market.

Start to make your market research for your business. This is one way to have a one step ahead to your game. You will able to identify your prospect customers and possible business growth. Market search also gives your business an edge especially you are just starting, for you will be able to see the overview of problems and obstacles of other companies or businesses and learn from it. It’s one way to also prepare your business to deal with the possible business issues and problems.

Keeping in mind these simple yet effective business development strategies will definitely help you attain your goal for success. As a saying goes, “People do not fail because they planned to fail but rather they failed to plan.”