After 32 years as a sales and business development trainer and consultant, I feel pretty secure in stating that I've seen the good, the bad and the truly ugly when it comes to sales and marketing efforts.
Some of the businesses that you think would be superstars at their business development initiatives don't actually "get it," and the ones that you are quite certain would be doing things "all wrong" are actually rather adept at their sales efforts.
As a trainer and consultant, it certainly keeps me on my toes!
The many years of experience and insights gained from working with these companies enables me to be better positioned to stop my clients from making business development mistakes before they waste time, money, and suffer the effects of not having an effective sales program to help them grow a sustainable business.
Here are three mistakes that should be avoided:
Not having a comprehensive sales process
To be effective at sales for the long haul you need a structured sales process that will move prospects through the three basic stages of sales. These are: wooing the prospect, winning the business, and then ultimately, wowing them to ensure long-term retention and growth. By creating a plan you can be confident that you are better positioned to accomplish these three goals and not just "hoping" for the best results to occur.
Not providing sales skills training and ongoing refreshers
Let's face it, every salesperson, whether they're veterans or novices, can benefit from ongoing sales training and coaching. Fundamental sales skills, as well as more complex strategies and tactics, should be trained and refreshed on a regular basis, and if counting on "non-traditional" sales reps to generate business, such as professional service providers or "C" level execs in non-selling roles, these skills sessions are even more important.
Not mining the gold in your database (i.e. dormant accounts, prospects that received a proposal but didn't become a client, referral sources)
Your fastest and most cost-effective return on your sales time is connecting with your existing database. In most cases these individuals and companies already know who you are and what you do, you have credibility and a much greater chance of connecting with a decision-maker. Once you "re-open" the dialogue, make certain to "stay on the radar screen" by using the three I's (invitations, introductions, and information) and utilize a CRM such as Salesforce, Zoho or Insightly to help you with your touchpoint management.
I wish that I could say that these are the only potential mistakes and once you have them covered, business development will be a breeze. Unfortunately, that's not true. It's difficult, often frustrating and occasionally stressful but when you make a sale (and you WILL make sales), it can be the best feeling in the world.