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Written by Brett Jacob

Sales Is Dead

All new business development activity has to start somewhere. Developing new business isn’t always easy but with a good proposition, a disciplined approach, a modicum of intelligence and the right hook, targets become prospects, become conversations, briefs, pitches and finally clients.

In my view, the starting point to any prospecting strategy is ‘who do you want to do business with?’. Which organisations out there would you like as clients? Who are the key decision makers, how can we reach these decision makers and engage with them? The aim is to find the reason why someone should give you an hour of their time in their diary. Once you have that, it really is over to you.

There are many sales techniques preached across businesses of all shapes and sizes. Many courses, many gurus with their golden ticket for effective selling. There are a number of approaches – many of which are useful in the right circumstances. In the wrong circumstances, they can be a disaster. I have worked in organisations from Big 4 consulting practices, large data organisations and start ups (including Present Works). In all of these, a strategic sales approach is important to deliver across the various disciplines available to your clients. For me, effective selling is about really understanding the objectives of your clients. The often used phrase of ‘what keeps you awake at night’ may sound trite but it does ensure a focus on the key issues, pain points and requirements as well as ensuring your business offer can be positioned to address these needs.

Back to the point about ‘who do you want to do business with?’. Six steps to consider:

  1. Identity your target clients – look at opportunities according to the vertical market you want to work with, companies that buy your type of service or product from a competitor, companies who you know will benefit from your offer.
  2. Who is the person you need to do business with? It is important to identify the ultimate decision maker and buyer. It is also important to identify the person responsible for delivering objectives that demand or would benefit from your offer. This may be the starting point. Engaging with a Head of Marketing, Head of Analysis or whoever – they need to understand how your offer can help them and whether they are willing to put the case for buying your service to their Director or ultimate budget holder.
  3. You have identified the person whose diary time you need. How to reach them? How to engage with them? Both vital considerations – and in a GDPR business environment – the need for ‘legitimate interest’ to engage with them.
  4. How do we grab their attention? Is your offer clear, does it address their objectives and pain points? Is the message compelling? What are you offering to do that is different to everyone else out there?
  5. In my view, a key consideration is the ‘hook’ – the very message that is meant to grab attention and ensure a diary invite is offered. The hook needs to be directed at the business objective, where possible quantifiable and plant the seed of what you can do to help.
  6. The final point for me is timing. Many of us are bombarded with sales requests every day, and getting the timing of a ‘sell’ wrong can undo all the work that’s gone before. You’ve done all the hard work to identify an individual you believe your business can help and how you can help them, so don’t undo it by immediately hitting them with a sell. Build a line of communication, find a common ground, and suggest a solution when the moment is right.

A clear strategy based on who you want to do business with, how you can engage with your prospect, and what your offer can achieve for the client are all crucial considerations. Who said new business isn’t easy?