Many companies are having success by switching their focus from sales to business development. That does not mean that sales are not part of the business development process. However, it does mean that everything starts with a warm-up call or series of initial interactions.
In other words, instead of immediately trying to close a sale, your business development team should focus on establishing relationships and building a rapport with prospects. These relationships can lead to a successful close in the future.
Business Development vs. Immediate Sales
Companies focused on business development are looking towards creating long-term relationships that can generate lasting revenue. When you consider the sales cycle overall, you have to wonder whether or not your company or your team would be more successful if they focused on relationships versus sales. If you started by providing prospects with more information about your company, products, services, and how you can benefit them, you may find that they begin to trust you.
For example, when you hear BMW, you probably think about a luxury car that provides an optimal driving experience. It is BMW’s reputation that sends a lot of people to the dealership, rather than their design style or features. Lesser-known brands have to spend significant amounts of time and resources to educate consumers so they consider them to be a trustworthy alternative in the luxury space. In a similar fashion, business development is about providing information in order to establish these baseline assumptions. A call-agent in a business development role can provide prospects with important data like how long the company has been in business, what the company is known for, awards received, why a product is the best, etc. A warm-up call, such as this, will set the stage for a future sales call.
By comparison when agents are trying to close a sale immediately, they have to simultaneously overcome the obstacle of unfamiliarity in order to establish trust and consumer confidence. This can be difficult to do and decrease your overall close-ratio.
Create a Long-Term Growth Strategy
Your company can achieve greater success with a comprehensive strategy that involves both business development and sales. During your planning sessions be sure to:
#1 Identify who you want your customers to be.
What is your target market? Where are your customers located and what makes them interested in your products or services? It is necessary to have a strategy that truly defines who your customers are and who you want them to be. This will allow you to define your calling list appropriately. For example, if your customers are most likely to be forty-something, high-income earners from the Midwest, your list should not include 20-somethings from Houston. By defining your customers and narrowing your list, it will be easier to establish a relationship based on known interests and commonalities that this demographic shares. With a narrowly defined list, what worked to establish a rapport on one call is likely to experience some level of success on another.
#2 Determine what area of the state or country you are targeting.
Find out where your ideal customer is located and make sure that any call list is going to pull from this area specifically. Is important to remember that people communicate differently based on where they are located. This is due to cultural norms and expectations and if your business development and sales team understands them, calls are going to be far more successful.
#3 Build relationships.
Calls can be made to establish and build relationships rather than going in for the immediate sale. Ultimately relationships are what business development is all about and it can create long-term customer loyalty. An automatic dialer can help you to do so by providing agents with details about the prospects they are speaking with. Information such as their full name, spouse’s name, city, relationship with the company, and notes on previous interactions can all be used to help prospects feel more intimately connected with the company and call-agent.
Use an Auto Dialer
Outbound dialing software such as an auto dialer system can be used to remind agents to call on important dates like a prospects birthday. How much more successful would you be if the first call was for business development purposes, the second was to wish the prospect a happy birthday and the third was to sell them something? By this point, you would have provided your prospect with valuable information so that they can trust the company and then showed that you care about their life specifically. By the time you or a closer makes the sales pitch, they will be far more inclined to seriously consider your offerings.
Collaboration is critical to your success. For example, are your business development agents going to close sales or will they direct the prospect to the appropriate department or agent when the time is right? You need to provide your team with the proper resources and the ability to bring in other team members for certain calls. This will help to increase your close ratio.
One of the ways that you can make it easier to collaborate is to use a contact center software that is able to gather information about each call and the prospect. This way, if a call is transferred to a manager or a product specialist to make the close, that person has all of the information they need about the prospect and prior calls directly in front of them. Instead of being a cold transfer, this will become a warm hand off to someone who is even better suited to address the needs of your prospect or customer.
Stay Organized and Follow-Up Using an Auto Dialer
Business development is only successful if your agents continue to follow-up on a regular basis and eventually sell prospects on your company’s products or services. To ensure that follow-ups happen in a timely fashion, and that the activity is tracked, use contact center software like an automatic dialer where everything can be housed in one location including the information itself and follow-up call reminders. This will make closing the sale much easier while also helping to manage agent follow-ups.