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How Is Business Development Like Dating?

Photo Credit: South Park

I recently wrote a post about how some salespeople think that it's okay to substitute digital media for relationship building. I talked about the inappropriate trend of salespeople asking for favors from a stranger as an expectation without anything of value in exchange, just because they could identify you by combing through social media. While most people responded favorably, saying that they've had similar experiences, a few people said that I was not being fair, and that I didn't understand what it was like to be a salesperson in today’s business environment.

Having spent more than 20 years leading sales and marketing organizations, I do understand the changing landscape of business in the age of digital marketing. I know that it's harder to get people to pay attention to your message. I know that there are successful ways to get your message heard above the rest of the crowd, because that's what I do. I'm the marketing guy.

Your Approach to Finding a Soul Mate

If you were looking for a soul mate, would you simply send an email to a whole bunch of people, hoping that one would respond with favorable interest? Or, would you go out and get to know people, narrowing the field to those who are compatible with you? Would you use a shotgun approach, or would you figure out the things that are interesting and attractive to you, and then use a targeted approach to find people who fit your target profile? Then, would you narrow that group, based on what you could offer back to those people of interest? What, and to whom could you provide value to in building a lasting relationship? Or, do you think it would it be appropriate to simply send an email to everyone you can find asking for an introduction to friends you could date? Yet, that's exactly the approach that many salespeople use today to try and find new business.

Your Approach to Finding a Client

Here's an idea for you. Look at your current list of clients. Determine who are your best clients, and what are the qualities that make them your best clients. Build your list of “must haves” and “nice to haves” in clients you want to work with. Then, apply the criteria against a list of companies to determine the best matches. There's plenty of data available to identify the right person within each of those companies. Contact them with an offer for something of value to prove that you’re an expert on their specific problem. Maybe it's a webinar, a free whitepaper or a case study testimonial of someone like them who met a key business goal by working with you. The more you can help them meet their business goals, the better chance you have of actually getting a response. Remember, people buy goods and services to solve their problem. If you can't solve someone’s business problem, then you probably won't gain their interest and attention.

Many people reading this will find it to be basic. However, if you look within companies, you'll likely find people don’t even follow these basics. It may be due to a lack of training. It may be due to a lack of understanding. Whatever the issue is with your team, you need to solve it to be successful in sales and marketing to your clients.

I once worked with a salesperson hired because he had thousands of twitter followers. After nine months that converted into zero sales, he was let go. The real job of a salesperson is to get out there and solve client business issues in exchange for compensation. Know your prospect. Know your market. Know your industry. Be an expert. Offer specific and targeted value. Adapt to the changing marketplace. It's not that easy, but it is that basic.

If you’re looking for sales and marketing help, let me know. I'm always interested in helping businesses grow, and meet their goals.

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