An important issue in business development is finding the right balance of quantity and quality when approaching prospects.
People who are unsuccessful in this regard fall into two groups.
The first group is people who don’t approach enough prospects to meet their pipeline targets; a lack of urgency is present. Some people can spend too much time on preparation – unproductive over preparation – without actually getting on with prospect engagement.
The second group is people who approach too many prospects in a generic fashion without consideration of the needs and challenges of each specific person or organisation – an absence of quality. Consequently they receive multiple objections.
The correct balance of quantity and quality in your approaches is the ‘sweet spot’ of activity.
This is where you get the right balance between approaching a sufficient number of prospects to achieve your pipeline targets and ensuring that each approach is tailored to give you the best chance of successfully engaging each prospect.
To successfully hit the ‘sweet spot’ and give yourself the best chance of hitting your targets, you first have to be aware of your pipeline ratio’s (the number of approaches you have to make to get meetings to convert to new business) and then maintain you activity levels at these rates – consistency is a key trait of successful business developers.
You also need to be able to answer three key questions before you approach any prospect:
1. Do you understand your prospect’s business hot buttons?
2. Do you understand your prospect’s personal hot buttons?
3. Have you developed ideas around how you can help your prospect address these?
If you haven’t established the answers to these questions, don’t approach the prospect yet.
You only have one chance to make the all-important first impression. You don’t want to blow it because you didn’t do your research.
1. Identifying your prospect’s business hot buttons
Your prospect’s hot buttons are the key business issues, challenges and needs your prospect is facing. Besides desk research, a great way to identify these is to experience their brand, product or service first hand.
2. Identifying your prospect’s personal hot buttons
Develop knowledge about the people you are going to approach and identify their personal hot buttons. Research their role at work, their experience and interests. For example, if you know that your prospect’s background and role is in human resources, it may help when you approach them to emphasise the people or human benefit of your opportunity. Similarly, if your prospect’s background is in finance, emphasise the financial benefit. I find Google and LinkedIn are useful tools for this kind of research.
3. Developing ideas around how you can help your prospect
This is the solution you can provide to help them address their challenges and needs identified in your initial research.
Tailor your approach
By answering the three questions you have about your prospect you can construct a relevant approach that will engage your prospect in their own world.
By placing your prospect’s issues and language at the centre of your communication, you will increase your chances of getting the prospect to engage with you.
Quantity and Quality
By addressing both the quantity and quality side of the equation you will become more effective in business development.