Jenny Jo Smith
Special to the State Gazette
The goal of business development is to create strategic business relationships, which drive revenue and help a company grow.
Even the most seasoned business development pros often confuse business development with sales. Our sights become so focused on closing a deal that we miss critical opportunities to gain the trust we need to win that new business. You can reach low-hanging fruit quickly and easily, but reaching prime coconuts requires more effort.
In a sales-driven mindset, we are hares in the race against the tortoise. We speed through taking the necessary time to build trust and jump too quickly into providing solutions. As such, we typically end up facing an uphill battle of resistance and objections from the prospect. We struggle to close because we haven't built trust.
The fix? Focus on the race, not only on the finish line. We need to stop being sales hares and start positioning ourselves as more trusted adviser-oriented tortoises to remain relevant in today's marketplace.
Trusted advisers are true consultants who establish healthy relationships with prospects and customers and whose recommendations are invited and heard. To build these types of successful relationships, follow these stages: build rapport, build trust, listen to understand, establish business and emotional context, and lastly, present solutions and recommendations.
Presenting solutions and recommendations before you earn the right to do so is like trying to put a roof on a house before finishing the framework. Do you invest too little time in the early stages and hop ahead -- like a hare -- to providing solutions? If you find yourself spending a disproportionate amount of time facing objections and resistance from customers and prospects, the answer is probably a resounding yes.
Dale Carnegie said people form opinions of us based on these four areas: "what we do, how we look, what we say, and how we say it." When building rapport, we focus on two types of exchanges: impression and interaction.
Consider ways you make an impression, whether good or bad, in the areas of correspondence, sociability, professionalism and responsiveness. Think about ways you interact with someone face to face. Are your interpersonal skills validating you as an authentic expert?
Answer these questions to create an action plan for becoming a trusted adviser to your target market and current customers:
How can I enhance my presence by what I do, what I say, how I say it or how I look?
In what specific situation do I have an opportunity to improve my presence?
How do I plan to improve?
Building meaningful business relationships takes time. When you choose stamina over speed, you may not see results overnight, but you will be around to finish the race.
Jenny Jo Smith, training and development strategist at RedRover Sales & Marketing Strategy, can be reached at redrovercompany.com.