I’m a professional, not in sales. How do I do business development?
A client called me a couple of weeks ago lamenting the fact that he had just been promoted and was now expected to ‘do’ business development in addition to all of his other tasks. First off, he just didn’t know how but more fundamentally he felt as though ‘sales’ was a sleazy activity, unbecoming to a highly qualified, highly trained professional like himself.
Interestingly, it’s not just professionals who feel this way, the fact that you have to go out and generate leads and convert them into paying customers seems to shock many small business owners (including me when I first started out). If this is you read on for some help on how to get your head around business development.
We often have a knee jerk reaction to the words ‘sales’ or ‘salesman’. Just think about what words and images you associate with ‘sales’. I’ll bet most of them aren’t very complimentary and a picture of someone with a shiny suit and a false smile just popped into your head. But business development is more than just selling. It’s really about raising awareness of you, your firm and the products and services you offer. It involves providing information to allow potential customers to evaluate options and make the right choice for them and then closing the deal but only when they have decided that they’re ready to buy from you. It’s not about forcing someone to pay for stuff they don’t want, it’s about helping potential clients to make the right choices for them. Hmm – doesn’t that sound much more palatable than selling?
The fact is that many senior positions, or running your own business, will involve building relationships with potential customers and maintaining relationships with existing and past customers. So start by changing how you think about sales: forget the selling bit and focus on developing great relationships and providing great service then, guess what, you’ll also be great at business development.
I’ll be adding some more on business development, networking, building relationships and, yes, selling over the coming weeks so watch out for future blogs, helpsheets and e-books. In the meantime why not have a free coaching session on me?