Developing your business. Part One – Sales
Business development is one of those terms that we all hear bandied about with reckless abandon but what does it actually mean? In real terms business development is any strategy to encourage and promote growth in your firm. As an entrepreneur you’ve had the vision to spot a gap in the market, and you will undoubtedly also have a vision of what you would like your business to ultimately become.
Your business development strategy is the blueprint for getting from point a) to point b) and may include not only growth in profits but in product/service potential and production. In this three part series, we will look at each aspect in turn beginning with profits.
Penetration into existing markets
In Ansoff’s terms, getting a greater hold on existing markets (market penetration) is the easiest/least risky strategy as you are concerned with improving what you have and where you have it. Your focus will be encouraging existing customers to use more, enticing customers from competitors and bringing in those reluctant/oblivious folks who are yet to try you out and whilst marketing and PR will be important, a key focus should be on sales teams.
Your sales teams, whether they are b2b and responsible for bringing in new business, assisting customers in a retail or hospitality setting or at the end of a phone line advising callers, are all your best tool for increasing profits. In luxury, where many trends originate, the focus is always upon the development of relationships rather than sales. You may say that this isn’t appropriate in a high footfall setting or a non-luxurious environment but the basic principles are the same. Even a two minute interaction can be an engaging, positive experience that a customer is keen to repeat or a nondescript, mundane interaction that leaves no discernible footprint on their intentions to return.
The caricature of a typical salesperson, loud, brash and dogged rarely ticks any boxes for customers. What customers do want, be they searching for a new piece of business software, a diamond encrusted timepiece, or the latest item of fast fashion is an advisor who is willing to invest time to understand their needs. Skill development can include such techniques as establishing rapport, questioning strategies, overcoming objections and closing the sale with the level of skill tailored to your product or service.
Putting yourself in their shoes
What many firms forget when training sales staff is that often, the implicit understanding of their customer just isn’t there. If they’ve never shopped for an investment timepiece how can they have empathy for the customer? Always go back to basics and attempt to engender a genuine understanding for customer motivations, desires and wants- only then is there a chance they can be delivered. And so, we’ve looked at business development through sales, next time we will look at product/service development.