If you’re wondering why business development is so hard, it’s because you may be contributing to a system that treats its prospects poorly.
Our digital communications are part of the problem. Human beings send 300 billion emails per day. Nearly 85% of them are spam. We don’t segment our contact lists well enough, so most of the recipients of our client alerts and marketing messages fail to engage or lead to engagements.
Our websites are part of the problem. We position ourselves as though we are good at everything we do when the fact of the matter is we all have weak practice areas where our expertise or competency is not as strong. Do we treat our prospects the way we would wish to be treated, with transparency and honesty? No, we fake it until we make it and hold out even our subpar offerings as though they are best in show.
No wonder our prospects have become so defensive, employing caller ID and spam filters and a “we hate salespeople” mindset, sending us voluminous RFPs, being reluctant to fill out even the most basic of lead capture forms for fear of what we will do with their information, giving rise to ICANN and GDPR laws designed to protect them from us.
We can certainly relate whenever we are in the consumer role.
Can you think of the last cold call that didn’t irritate you or that resulted in you actually buying something?
Our transactional mindset is part of the problem. We hold out for the possibility that the next client is just one email or social media post away. We are too aggressive at the top of the funnel (spam) and too reluctant at the bottom (client contact and proactive problem-solving). We are impatient to earn a prospect’s trust. We treat everyone in the funnel as though they are at the bottom of it. We carry shotguns and aim sloppily. When we get lucky, we simply reload the shotgun with more shells.
So, if you’re looking for a better win ratio:
- Segment your contact lists, not just by industry, but according to their needs.
- Focus on thought leadership that provides value and attracts the ideal buyer.
- Understand that prospects travel a sales funnel. Those who read and respond to your thought leadership are further down the funnel than those who do not. Examine the inflection points in your funnel and pair appropriate responses.
- Develop thicker skin with your clients. They want to hear from you more often with relevant information you are uniquely positioned to provide.
- Implement a win/lose feedback process so you learn from your mistakes more quickly and start implementing solutions.
In short, communicate less aggressively with your prospects and more deliberately with your clients. Business development will get a lot easier.