Business Development Series Posted by David McDermott

A recent experience reminded me of a Professor when at business school, who asked a room full of Sales and Marketing executives, which type of sales team they would prefer when launching a new product or service. It seemed a strange question at the time and one worth remembering.

So the question he asked was what type would it be?

a) Highly enthusiastic individuals who promote your offering with passion?
b) Those individuals who are ambivalent? Or,
c) Those individuals with medium enthusiasm?

Clearly this was a simple exercise with minimal information, designed to make us think and surely we would all want the most enthusiastic, right?

Well to our surprise, he suggested we were all wrong!

Whilst well intended, the enthusiasts tended to tell clients how good their new offering is, without seeking to understand what is important to the client. This resulted in a lot of product/service features being used, with little of specific relevance to each client’s potential requirements. This is often referred to as a feature dump or similar words to that effect!

So if enthusiasts are not the answer, who is?

The discussion continued with agreement on preferring a disciplined approach of working through a defined business development process with each client.

Not surprisingly with a room full of executives, they wanted a business development process that could be measured and tracked per account and per individual sales person. They wanted to understand where it was successful and seek to replicate this everywhere possible, with the capability to report on progress with qualitative feedback.

It was agreed that emphasis on the research and investigation stages of the business development process, before even beginning to promote your latest offering was crucial in engaging with clients.

The debate started by a simple question, continued and prompted some really important lessons for the group. Here are three that may help you:

1. So much time and cost is spent developing and building new products and services, it was agreed to spend more time on developing the market approach to different types of customers. This included the skills development of teams, working on how to engage with clients, as opposed to focusing exclusively on what to lead with.

2. The group was unanimous in wanting the sales and marketing teams to collaborate on the market strategy. A team approach to key clients was deemed essential, as was the joint ownership of the launch success.

3. When launching a new product or service approach the group wanted the business development teams to have all the tools necessary, such as presentations to use and questions to ask, without leaving it to each individual to interpret.

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