One of the most challenging aspects of lockdown 3.0 for companies is how to deal with business development.
Remote working means cold calling, direct mail, and face-to-face meetings are almost certainly off the table, as are exhibitions and events for obvious reasons.
E-marketing for cold outreach is a bad idea at the best of times, but in lockdown, where everyone is faced with more email communication to deal with than ever, it’s probably the worst thing you could do.
Advertising is always on the table (albeit digitally), but unless you have bottomless pockets, it’s unlikely to yield any fast results. Even if they are rapid results, the chances of capturing high-quality warm leads through advertising are incredibly slim because you can never be sure who sees them.
Social media is a solid option, as people’s social interactions move primarily online. However, there’s a BIG difference between content marketing and proactive business development that kickstarts sales conversations on your terms.
The most critical component of business development is building meaningful connections with other people. Buying windows are often years apart, so the only true path to success is to adopt a measured, strategic approach to outbound sales. The following seven steps will help you do just that:
- Use your resources wisely: too many business development techniques bleed time, money and energy for little reward. Don’t confuse activity or cost with effectiveness. Some methods may require a bit more time, but improved results can far outweigh that.
- Break the mould: Increasing economic pressures on businesses will inevitably translate into more sales noise. If you want to stand out, then don’t go with the flow. Avoid using the same techniques that every Tom, Dick and Harry are using. Look for innovative ways to elevate yourself from everyone else.
- Show more patience: the current situation means more significant daily challenges for everyone. Expect plenty of no-replies from people who are juggling far more pressing concerns. Never force the issue by pressurising people with ill-timed, or ill-conceived follow-ups. All that will do is drive them away and build negative impressions of your business. Ensure every communication with the prospect holds them in the highest respect.
- Stay focused: Make sure you micro-target your prospects. Casting your net wider makes it harder to identify the right people to contact and prepare the kind of quality sales material that will resonate with them. Focus your efforts on the smallest viable audience for your business and seek out the places and people around whom they congregate.
- Humanise: Remote outreach is a poor substitute for real-life human contact, but that doesn’t mean you can’t bring your virtual business development efforts to life. Until we all communicate through 3D avatars, video is the closest thing we have to real human contact. Use it to your advantage.
- Personalise: remote contact means it’s more important than ever to find ways to build meaningful human relationships. It is hard to build a rapport with someone digitally, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible, it merely requires more effort. Personalising content takes more time which helps makes people feel valued. No one responds well to being treated like a number.
- Be positive: If you believed the media, you’d think the sky was caving in. While there are inevitably many challenges for us all, there are also opportunities as businesses look for solutions to overcome those challenges (especially if those solutions improve the bottom line!). Stay upbeat. Focus on the value you provide and the proven results you can deliver.
Let’s face it; business development can be hard going at the best of times. The latest COVID-19 lockdown certainly doesn’t oil the hinges, but it doesn’t have to mean all doors are suddenly closed. With the right mindset and approach, you may discover more opportunities than you could ever think possible.
(If this has got you thinking and you are looking for a specific framework that helps with all the above, you may want to get your hands on a copy of Wonder Leads!)