As you may or may not have noticed I am having some revelations as of late. As I learn and experience more and more about the current state of affairs in the corporate world I am having some eye opening experiences about the nature of business and selling in particular.
Fortunately, I am not claiming that I am the first and only person to think this way. I hate it when that claim is made in the business world. ‘There is NOTHING new under the sun’ is what I adhere to as a philosophy. The only thing different is the application of the concept. It’s like the Internet as a whole. The Internet is about communication. The same communication concept that happened on cave walls or wherever at some time in the past. People need to get their thoughts out for others to feed on. The Internet is an enabler; that’s really it.
As it relates to business and selling it is monumental. Why? Well, I think that the idea of business development is now being sliced and diced more thinly. The terminology of being a ‘business development’ executive is so wide and nebulous that it is almost meaningless. Different industries approach business development differently so there is no real definition for the act of business development.
I propose the following. Any thinking sales focused organization will have at least a person who is solely dedicated to and extremely well compensated for Lead Development Executive. The requirements would be (Oh and the numbering is correct):
- Extensive sales background – Sorry college grads. This is not an entry-level position. The right candidate will need to be able to understand the entire sales process. The idea of cold-calling a list of ‘suspects’ is dead. Please stop harassing people. Any experienced, successful sales person who is selling a service or something that is not a price driven commodity will loathe the idea of cold-calling and for good reason. It’s confrontational and too salesy.
- Understanding of social media and its application– Lead generation and cultivation are the result of building relationships. Aside from the traditional ways to do that (networking events, associations, etc) the best way to start conversations and the process of seeing whether your services meet a real need is through social media channels. By the way, just managing a few social media outlets personally is the social media equivalent of “fogging a mirror”. It’s so much more than that and is done across an organization not in a silo. Social media and networking is the ultimate ‘sales’ tool. Gosh, I am actually starting to hate the word sales.
- Stop using the words ‘selling’ and ‘sales’ – The connotation of being sold something is along the lines of doing something that you were not totally convinced was the right for you. Then why do it? A persuasive ‘closer’ helped you get there. That’s not a good result. Go ahead and argue if you think I am full of it. The bottom line is that people and companies that have been ‘closed’ usually end up being classified as bad business.
- Sensitivity to potential customer needs – Notice I didn’t use the word prospect. That is another old school silly name for someone who may have an interest in your product or service. Businesses have not had a mid point between prospects and customers. You are either trying to close the prospect or attending to the needs of the customer. What about attending to the needs of a person or company that is trying to find the best solution for their business? Are they a prospect? No, they are a human being. They are deeper than a name, title, phone number, e-mail and perceived need. They have very unique issues that make up their need and your product may not actually work. Honor that.
- Saying No more often than Yes – OK, now you figure that I have gone off the deep end right? How can anyone who is trying to get new business in the door say to “No!” to anything? Easy. Bad business costs more money than it makes. Top line revenue can sometimes result in bottom line loss. If someone is ‘sold’ something then there is a huge screw-up that was inevitable because there was no real fit from the beginning (other than the salesperson and company’s need for income) the resulting bad press or law suits will outweigh the initial euphoria of the sale. If it’s a bad for business ‘JUST SAY NO!”
So there it is. Sales is dead. Cold calling is a waste of good talent. Closing is manipulative. Business development is too broad. Lead development is the wave of the future. Climb on board or get washed away.