The Importance of Honing Your Business Development Skills
Business development is an ongoing skill business owners need to continually refine in order to keep their sales pipeline full. Unfortunately, when times are good and customers plentiful, it is easier to push this important task to the side.
While business development seems like a straightforward task that is not always the case. To be effective, it must be done correctly, otherwise it can backfire and do more harm than good.
In almost all cases, the most important business development tool has nothing to do with interacting with customers. Before you can hope to attract more customers you need to find out what your competition is up to so that you can set yourself apart.
When you are one of several companies selling a similar product or service, emphasizing what you do differently is critical to your success. And you can’t know what those differences are unless you carefully study your competitors.
Here are some other important things to keep in mind when planning your business development strategy:
Focus on adding value. While it is gratifying to make a quick sale, that is not the job of business development. Instead, provide your customers and prospects with things that money can’t buy. These include outstanding customer service, information that solves a problem or makes their job easier and taking a real interest in their success. Doing these things helps to build trust and when people trust you, they are much more likely to do business with you in the long-term. Remember, however, adding value takes patience.
Tailor your testimonials. When using testimonials, make sure those testimonials are tailored for your specific target audience. Small companies do not want to hear how your product worked for a multi-national company and vice versa. Throwing testimonials out haphazardly is rarely a good idea. Further, a poorly written or token review can do more harm than good. Make sure the testimonials you use are heartfelt and compelling, remembering that it is better to have a few outstanding testimonials than a glut of averages ones.
Monitor online reviews. Always keep track of what people are saying about you online. Online reviews have a huge impact on whether someone decides to do business with you. If you receive a negative review, respond carefully and in a helpful manner. It may not erase the review but those who read your response will view you as really caring about the customer experience.
Maintain healthy relationships. Don’t ignore your current customers in an effort to gain more. Repeat business is much easier and cheaper to garner than new business so don’t let relationships with your current clients to fall by the wayside.