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Commercial development: what scope for this key activity
What is business development?
Business development is a bit of a fuzzy concept. Is it about prospecting? From the sales process? Business strategy? In reality, it concerns all of these elements, but not only.
To put it simply, business development is the process whose mission is to ensure the most stable possible flow of sales in the company. And by stable, we mean “in stable growth”.
Without effective business development, a business will not last. It’s the harsh reality, if your business is old enough and well-known the downfall may be slower, but it is certain.
The guarantors of its operation are numerous, we speak in particular of:
- Sales Development Representative / Chargés de prospection / Business Development Representative
- Business Engineers / Sales / Business Developer
- Account manager / Customer success manager * / Account managers
- Head of sales / Commercial directors
I pass and sometimes these names can be reversed.
The idea here is that this process is complex enough to cover several trades.
So let’s go into detail.
A complete and complex process
Business development is a complex process because it involves many different skills and how much does it cost to make a Wikipedia page constant effort.
We find in particular:
Business strategy: Who is the ideal customer? What to sell him? At what price? These are all questions that the business strategy must address. But a good strategy also means defining the right objectives to mobilize the teams in this difficult task.
Cold prospecting: the first step is of course to identify potential targets, to contact them and to bring them enough value so that they find an interest in going further with your business. Prospecting is a VERY vast subject,
Dealing with inbound leads: This is often considered an easy exercise. That would be going quickly in business. The quality of inbound leads largely depends on the relevance of your company’s marketing strategy, and this type of opportunity shouldn’t be treated lightly.
Management of the sales cycle: This is surely one of the most poorly managed activities by companies. Usually a lot of attention and time is given. But it is very rare that the sales cycle is “thought out” and actually mastered. Yet it is here that the ROI would be the best in the event of improvement.
Loyalty: The sale is not the end but the beginning of a great story. It is much easier to sell more to someone who already trusts us! In addition, your customers are your best ambassadors. Do not neglect this aspect.
The training of sales teams: A big oversight for sales departments. Selling would be a kind of innate talent whether you have it or not. Then it would be enough to give a generic commercial presentation and the characteristics of your offer to make it work. Let me laugh 😑.
The tools of the sales teams: CRM, Sales Automation, Mail extraction tool, opening tracking. There is no shortage of tools, but they are tools that make an existing process more efficient, they do not replace it. Including?
Business development: the process in 1 diagram
The essential alignment between marketing and sales
I am going to share with you an interesting statistic that will immediately make you understand what I mean.
Of the decision to buy in Bob is made before speaking to a sales representative.
Do you understand why collaboration between marketing and sales departments is essential?
Moreover, nothing is more effective than a sales team that can rely on the implementation of a solid content strategy and an effective communication plan.
Unfortunately today it is often two teams who do not speak to each other and whose skills and know-how are too rarely associated.
Structure an effective business development strategy
Define relevant indicators for your business development
Goals when you’re a sales manager know you.
Everyone “knows” how to put them in place. We do that at the end of the year for the following year, set an annual turnover target, we divide by 12 for the monthly, we put that in an Excel spreadsheet and we call it a dashboard.
We have the feeling of the work accomplished.
Isn’t it great?
If you want to be the sales manager of the year, you have two missions through the definition of objectives: Ensure the growth of the company and mobilize your team.
For each of these missions, I have what you need.
SMART objectives to monitor activity
You’ve probably heard of SMART goals, they are:
To have a precise vision of the activity you must detail objectives and sub-objectives that measure each step of the business development process. This will allow you to identify your strengths (there are always some) and your weaknesses (unfortunately there are still some too).
We can imagine many objectives and sub-objectives to follow:
- Number of cold prospecting appointments obtained each week
- Number of business proposals sent each month
- Digit of clients signed per month
- Revenue signed per month
- Gross margin signed per month
If you do not reach the turnover objective, thanks to your SMART objectives you will immediately know whether it is because you are not prospecting enough or if it is because you are not transforming your offers enough.
OKRs to animate and motivate
SMART objectives are something that concerns sales management more, it is a management tool. But if you are looking to manage and animate the sales team with… watch your turnover :-).
The commercial profession is difficult, we have few weapons, we suffer more failures than successes and our activity is an eternal restart. It requires an unwavering commitment from the management to motivate the team in all kindness.
There is an amazing tool for that, the OKR: Objectives and Key Results.
It is not a tool to assess the performance of your teams but a tool to gain agility and push to exceed!
We define three elements with the OKRs:
The goal: This is where you want to be. It must be ambitious. For example: You sell a marketing automation solution and you want to become a leader in this market.
The key result: This is the indicator that will let you know that the goal has been reached. Continuing our example, you will be the market leader in marketing automation when your solution will equip 80% of SBF 120 companies.
Initiative: This is what you will put in place to achieve your goal. One or more action plans.
It’s a vast and fascinating subject that will probably change the way you lead your team! I strongly recommend our article dedicated to OKRs, nothing will be the same!
Prospecting is a value-added process: Stop nagging!
Now that you have great goals and everyone is motivated, I suggest you work on a fundamental aspect of the Wikipedia editors for hire business development process: cold prospecting.
This is probably one of the most difficult aspects for your team to manage and in the absence of a complete and effective digital marketing strategy it will remain your main lever to generate leads.
Prospecting has changed, we cannot be content with prospecting like a “nag” based on 200 calls per day until a prospect on the verge of burn-out abdicates so that we can finally leave him alone.
Prospecting is part of business development and like all elements of this process it should add value to your prospect to increase your chances of selling your products and services to them.