Coaches And Consultants – Are You Making Any Of These Twenty Business Development Blunders?

Professionals who market their services can attract more clients by avoiding the following deadly business development mistakes:

ERROR #1: Talking about specialized knowledge more than about solutions.

ALTERNATIVE: Speak your client’s language. Show him or her how you will get specific results that will help their organization, career, or personal aspirations. Demonstrate your ability to provide significant value, in specific, measurable ways.

ERROR #2: Focusing on you instead of on the prospect.

Prospects care first and foremost about solving their problems and taking advantage of their opportunities. Therefore, they only care about you if your experience and knowledge directly and uniquely relates to solving their problem.

ALTERNATIVE: Focus on the prospect’s problems and opportunities. Build credibility and demonstrate value by establishing yourself as the expert who understands the prospect’s situation and ways to get results. Make sure you use the word “You” at least twice as much as you use the words “I/We” when you speak to prospects.

ERROR #3: Letting your achievements or expertise speak for itself.

This is a huge mistake. You may be brilliant, but that doesn’t mean clients will come to you.

ALTERNATIVE: Invest in business development. Reach out to prospects in ways that builds your credibility. For instance, provide education and information that matters to them, and also shows the value you offer.

ERROR #4: Not choosing a specific niche or target market.

This will give you the false security of having unlimited prospects, but ultimately will get you fewer clients at higher cost than if you focus.

ALTERNATIVE: Focus on a specific target market.

ERROR #5: Not reaching your target market effectively.

ALTERNATIVE: Develop a series of messages and strategies that reaches and attracts prospects from your target market.

ERROR #6: Not dominating your target market.

If you don’t dominate, someone else will, and your revenue will suffer.

ALTERNATIVE: Position yourself as the leader by establishing your credibility and authority with prospects. If you can’t be the leader, find or define a new niche.

ERROR #7: Creating an incomplete or non-compelling marketing message.

With a poor message, your business development efforts will go nowhere.

ALTERNATIVE: Develop a complete, compelling marketing message that describes the problem you solve for your market, how you solve it, the specific results you have achieved, and why you are better than anybody else. Be especially sure to highlight your “edge” and why it matters to your prospects/clients.

ERROR #8: Trying to “close the sale” too soon.

Most prospects, especially in the market for professional services, need a series of positive interactions with a candidate before making a decision.

ALTERNATIVE: Provide a series of educational messages to establish credibility and attract qualified prospects to you. Get rid of the tacky “sales pitch,” and follow up with prospects in ways that demonstrate your value. This will establish you as the authority in your field, lead to more sole source deals, and earn loyal clients.

ERROR #9: Making poor use of publicity.

Getting mentioned in the news is an exercise in vanity if it doesn’t grow your company.

ALTERNATIVE: Use publicity to attract prospects to your business, capture their information, and build a relationship with them.

ERROR #10: Not asking for referrals.

Few professionals take full advantage of their opportunity to generate referrals.

ALTERNATIVE: Ask for referrals at key times in the client relationship. Develop proactive referral strategies within your sphere of influence.

ERROR #11: Relying too much on referrals.

Referrals are a fine source of additional business, but they put you in the position of being dependent on others.

ALTERNATIVE: Make sure your marketing strategy includes tactics to attract requests and inquiries directly from prospects, clients and your sphere of influence.

ERROR #12: Competing on price.

This error is a sure way to lack enough high-paying clients to meet your financial goals.

ALTERNATIVE: When prospects perceive you to be the authority in the field, you no longer need to compete on price.

ERROR #13: Forgetting to stay in touch with past clients.

Remember the old adage, “Out of site, out of mind.” You forfeit one of the best sources of profitable work if you forget to stay in touch with, and continue to support, past clients.

ALTERNATIVE: Develop a plan to strengthen your relationships with past clients, maintain their loyalty, and continue to show how you can provide them with ongoing value.

ERROR #14: Providing poor or mediocre service during engagements.

Word spreads fast when you do this, and can quickly destroy your reputation.

ALTERNATIVE: Develop a system to delight clients on every engagement.

ERROR #15: Cutting or delaying your investment in business development, especially in bad times.

This error will only hurt your bottom line more.

ALTERNATIVE: Commit to investing in business development. There are plenty of low-cost ways to attract clients in good times and bad.

ERROR #16: Not creating a simple, clear business development plan that lays out goals and a way to achieve them.

If you don’t set goals, how will you know if you are successful?

ALTERNATIVE: Create a plan every quarter that sets aggressive goals and lays out a path to accomplish them.

ERROR #17: Creating a business development plan that misses some crucial steps in the process of attracting and retaining clients.

Your plan must establish yourself as a credible authority, demonstrate your value to prospects, earn trust and commitment, and keep your clients’ loyalty.

ALTERNATIVE: Evaluate how well your business development plan achieves these outcomes, and revise it accordingly.

ERROR #18: Not taking action on your business development plan.

ALTERNATIVE: Make business development a top priority. Budget time as if you were your own client. One of your primary jobs is business development because if you don’t do that, you won’t be doing much consulting.

ERROR #19: Relegating marketing to an administrative role.

ALTERNATIVE: Marketing should be a core part of your strategy, and handled at the top levels of your organization.

ERROR #20: Not getting help.

Many professionals tend to want to do it all on their own. In business development, this can cause them to repeat common marketing mistakes and get poor results.

ALTERNATIVE: Hire competent professionals who can help you build your business. The investment will more than return itself in results.

I sincerely hope you don’t make these, or other costly mistakes. The market is extremely competitive, filled with professionals who are struggling to attract clients.

Business Development Consultant Author/Speaker, Thom Singer, Energizes Audiences

Thom Singer is an expert in social networking and developing a personal brand. He has worked in sales and marketing capacities at several Fortune 100 companies and regularly speaks to corporate audiences, law firms and professional organizations.

According to Thom Singer, a renowned professional public speaker and author of seven books, “set the tone when I speak to audiences about the power of business relationships.” Thom Singer has a program for multi-day industry conferences called “The Conference Networking Catalyst”.

Mr. Singer understands that one of the main reasons people attend industry events is for the “networking opportunities”, but once they arrive they fail to make meaningful connections. They sit with co-workers or spend too much time on their iPhones. They avoid talking to others, and yet the other people in attendance are exactly the people who could bring them opportunities down the road. In addition to the keynote, Thom Singer states that, “I also stay involved at the conference giving small vignettes of advice before breaks and meals…. encouraging people to really pay attention to each other.”

“The Conference Networking Catalyst” is becoming a “meeting planners favorite” because when attendees make better connections with other people, they enjoy the conference more…. and are thus more likely to come back the next year. This is one reason “The Conference Networking Catalyst” concept is effective.

As a true professional, Singer understands that “Audiences matter. They are the reason for the meeting, not the speakers.” Singer acknowledges that “I like to inspire and help encourage people.”

Thom Singer’s “Integrated Visibility” program (which combines Marketing, Sales, Business Development, Advertising, PR, Networking, Social Media, and Personal Branding) is successful for any group or individual that does not want to ignore the power of business relationships.

Singer also is co-founder of New Year Publishing, a fast growing company that assists senior executives, entrepreneurs, and professional speakers to expand their audience and present their messaging to even larger number of potential customers through books and other products.

Thom Singer knows that a trait of a good orator is not only to inform the listeners but also change their emotions in the process of discourse. How Singer differs from most speakers is how he categorizes various components which may involve mass communication, customer service, business, large group communication, personal development, leadership and motivational speaking. Singer does all of them.

Public speaking is the mode whereby we speak to a group of people in a structured way. The manner is aimed at informing, entertaining or influencing the listeners. There are five essential elements in any communication of public speaking (who, what, whom, medium and effects). Mr. Singer simply tells a story to the people to motivate them to act by simply transmitting information. As an orator Thom Singer enthralls the audience with the delivered speech.

The public speaking exercise essentially includes the art of oratory, connecting with the audience, inducting gestures and humor, perfect vocabulary and controlling and modulating the voice. Spanning the years of experience, Thom Singer has accomplished great things in this arena and touched has the lives of many around the world.

Mr. Singer understands to achieve greater success you need to put the pieces together. Networking, Marketing, PR, Sales, Advertising, Business Development, Presentation Skills, and Social Media all fit together to create your personal and professional brand.

Thom Singer’s unique and engaging style is tailored to the specific dynamics of each audience and his sense of continuity keeps the event flowing smoothly

Sales Management – Selling and Business Development in the 21st Century

The marketing components that used to generate leads — product, performance, promotion and price –are no longer effective. The tools for selling — lots of sales calls, lunches, golf and give-always — are expensive and inefficient. In the 21st century, selling and business development require the following:

* Prospecting Using the Internet
* Relationship Selling
* Network Selling and
* Investigative Selling.

Prospecting Using the Internet

Cold calling is dead. It’s not productive. It’s demoralizing. It’s expensive. Prospecting in the 21st century involves setting the stage for people and companies to find you so that you can solve their problems. Flaunting advertisements and brochures is also a waste. Everyone goes to the Internet these days to find solutions to their problems. Therefore, the successful sales person will have to know how to use the Internet to generate qualified leads. Corporations should have an Internet program, but territory and product-line sales people should have their own Internet marketing program as well. And it’s not about having a website, it’s much more. This is the passive side of prospecting. This means that sales and business development professionals must set up an aggressive Internet Marketing process for their territory or product so that the people they want to do business with will come to them.

Relationship Selling

The other 21st Century prospecting element is the active side of prospecting. This is where you use professional relationships to find out about problems or opportunities where you can assist. There are so many opportunities for a sales person or account manager to discover within their existing and old/lost accounts. Using professional relationships make this prospecting method effective and easy.

Sales and Business Development people with professional relationships are seen as a resource to protect or enhance buyers’ careers. These people will be open to give information and coach you for cross-sells into their business unit, associate divisions and/or other product lines. If you develop professional relationships, these people will give you qualified leads, buy more and more from you, and refer you to others.

Network Selling

However, one has to learn how to use these relationships to get networked to others. There are two focuses for successful selling in the 21 Century:

1. You must spread like a virus in your customers’ organizations. I use the phrase – move up and out.

2. You must get to the profit-center leaders, C-level executives, and senior staff of the business units you sell into and develop professional relationships with these people to effectively close sales, cross-sell and be seen as the preferred supplier. Hanging out with the subordinates will never secure your position with your customers.

The only way you’ll move up and out and connect with the leaders is by using your professional relationships to network you to others. People with whom you’ve developed credibility — your Golden Network as I call it — will help you if asked. But if they are not asked for a referral and introduction to others, they will rarely offer to connect you with the leaders and others you should be meeting. So you must ask for their help.

To make the networking process productive, what you ask for, how you ask for it, and where you look for help will make all the difference between getting to the right people and getting to useless people for your initiative. This process is Network Selling.

Investigative Selling

Once a sales or business development person connects with a person of value, using his or her network connection, the goal is to convert that individual into his or her Golden Network. In other words the sales or BD person will have to develop a professional relationship with this new contact.

People will consider another individual a professional relationship only if there is something in it for them. So a sales or BD person needs to investigate the critical drivers of their target contact in order to learn what this person values that s/he can deliver. Everyone is different and without knowing each individual’s triggers, a sales person will flounder or worst yet, become annoying. But if the sales person can make the connections between the desires and the deliverables, a relationship can be established, and then this new contact will continue networking you up and out until you are connected to the leaders and their staffs.

The process for determining one’s triggers is Investigative Selling. It requires knowing the questions to ask and how to ask them. Although this sounds simple, it requires finesse, skill and confidence. Investigative Selling also requires effective listening, and the ability to expose and entice. Both of these are advanced skills never taught in schools and rarely taught in product or sales training. So the successful sales or business development person will have to learn these Investigative Selling skills and be able to take them seamlessly to the street.

The sooner the sales or business development person masters these Internet Marketing, Relationships, Network and Investigative Selling Skills, the sooner sales will close and closing ratios rise.

Business Planning – A Good Business Development Strategy is Crucial for Success

As part of my consulting practice, I read and review business plans written both for venture capitalists and for grant applications. The weakest part of every business plan is always how will the company get from today to “the dream” five years out.

Usually, there is a pretty good description of what will happen in the next six months and a decent description of what will happen in five years, but there is nothing in between.

Technical entrepreneurs have a good handle on what product development they need to do to get the product into a usable form. They understand the costs and the time involved. However, once the product is developed, they seem to be at a loss as to what to do next.

The lack of a business development executive early in the process often leads to the product being developed in a vacuum. There is a bit of a chicken and egg problem here: start-ups don’t feel like they can afford a business development person until they sell product and they can’t figure out how to sell a product without business development.

Also, I’ve noted that a number of engineer or scientist CEOs tend to discount the role of business development, as if the science behind the product is really what sells the product. This is just not true – if it was true, universities would be a lot richer.

A company is a machine, each part is equally as important as every other part. For instance, you may have the hottest, top of the line engine in your car, but without tires, the car isn’t going anywhere. And continuing on with the car analogy, you can purchase cheap, junky tires. If you do, your car won’t perform at its best and will eventually crash and burn.

A good business development executive will plot each step of the way how your product will go from prototype to dollars in the bank account. At the early stages of your company, if you cannot afford to hire a business development exec, look for an adviser who has performed the role for other companies and listen to him or her carefully. Your business development plan should include

  • An Assessment of the Market Opportunities – Who is it who might want to buy your product? What do they have now? What is their purchasing cycle? Who at that company actually makes the purchasing decision?
  • Competitive Analysis – Who is trying to sell into the same space? Why is their product worse? Why is it better? Don’t forget inertia as a competitor. As an example, everyone should have a will, but many people do not because they just don’t get around to it.
  • Lead Generation – Once the market is narrowed down, you need a good strategy for how you are going to find the people who want your product.
  • Follow-up Sales Activity – This is broken into two categories, one pre-sale, one post-sale. You should have a strategy for how to deal with potential clients who have been contacted, but are not interested at this time. You also need a strategy for reconnecting with the customers once the sale is complete. Even if you do not think they will need another product from you, they may be able to give you a referral.
  • Pipeline Development – There should always be another customer in the pipeline. Without a strong pipeline of continuous customers, you will be unable to forecast sales and are likely to get caught short on cashflow.

Don’t neglect the business development strategy when building your business plan. If you are planning for five years out, know what you will be doing over the next six months, year, two years, three years, and so forth.