Business Development Strategies Working in Today’s Sales Environment

Caryn: Hi, everybody. Welcome to Jack Daly and Caryn Kopp, Sales B12™. This discussion is the dose of sales that you don’t want to miss. Jack and I came up with this idea because we want to give everybody content they may not have access to otherwise, which will help them in sales. So, Jack, what do you want to say about it?

Jack: Well, you know, I do these workshops every month virtually, and Caryn just generously pops in for an hour each time that I do it. And every time that she does, there are new things that she’s bringing to the marketplace because the sales marketplace is changing on us. So the light bulb went on, and Caryn said, “How about if we do B12 and regularly roll this out to the community?” So that was it. And here we are.

Caryn: And we’re going to do short segments on particular topics. So, listen to this video, and then there will be another one a couple of weeks later. Feel free to share this shot of Sales B12 with your friends. You can post it on social media and share it with your company: whatever will help you most!

The very first segment we’re doing is all about what’s working now in business development. So, Jack, you service a wide range of clients globally. What do you see is working now in business development?

(Jack) The Core Principles Haven’t Changed

I had a client the other day that said, “Hey Jack, do you have new stuff? Or are you going to just keep teaching this same old stuff?” And I’m like, “Well, the same old stuff actually still works well!”

1. Commit Full-Time Effort

All you have to do is make sure that it is first a full-time effort. So many companies make the mistake of thinking they can do sales as a sideline. If you want to grow your sales, you need to make sure that you’re spending and investing the time in sales activity. So the first bullet point that I would give people is that it’s a full-time effort.

2. Follow a Process

The second piece I would give you, and I’m known for this, is that it’s all about following a process. I like to say, “In one of my companies, I had 2,600 salespeople; there aren’t 2,600 best ways to do it.” So figure out best practices, and make that the way everyone sells.

3. Be Consistent

The third bullet point I wanted to share with everybody is consistency. The selling process is not something you do on Monday and then pick it up on Thursday and maybe next Tuesday. There’s a consistency. You get in the flow, and you get better and more confident. And as a result, you become more successful.

4. Focus on the Pipeline

The fourth thing is that there’s nothing more vital than a big, robust, and healthy pipeline. I’m working with a few clients struggling on the selling side, but I look at the pipeline, and there’s not much there. Different prospects will have different timelines for when they come on and are ready to move forward. If you’ve got too many out there in the distance, you’re not going to do well when you go to the grocery store to buy groceries. So, build the pipeline.

5. Stay in Touch Regularly

And then the last thing is a touch system; regularly staying in touch with prospects in unique and different ways. And don’t make it all about buying something from you. Instead, make it valuable, add contributions.

So that’s my take. But you run a company that does sales for other companies. What do your Door Openers® report that’s working in sales?

(Caryn) Get on the Phone and Have Conversations

As I tune into your public workshop every month, you always say that what I talk about changes month to month because the way business development is happening and the tools for success are changing. And so we’re keeping tabs on this. We watch the metrics, what’s working and what’s not working across all the different Door Opener® programs to ensure we get our clients in the door with their prospects for the first meeting.

1. Conversations Drive Sales

If everybody who’s listening takes nothing else away from this discussion, what’s working now is conversation. That’s not necessarily what people are doing, but what is working now is conversations in all parts of the sales process.

2. Pick Up the Phone

Many people hide behind email: instead of just emailing your prospects, pick up the phone and call them if you want to meet with them. Yes, leave that voicemail, get them live, and engage in a conversation. Our statistics show that when our Door Openers® get a prospect on the phone, they are more likely to secure a meeting vs. just emailing back and forth. Email is important. LinkedIn is important, but that conversation is critical further down in the sales process.

3. Ask High-Gain Questions

In that first meeting, what is the conversation? What is the structure of that conversation? What are the high gain questions you’re asking, the path of dialogue, your answers for the objections? And then, of course, getting that next step with a date and time.

For example, If someone asks you for a proposal, instead of just whipping off an email, ask them for a time to talk to them so that you can ask them a couple of questions such as, if everything we talk about is Nirvana for you, how are we going to work together? Who are the people who need to be involved in the decision, and what paperwork needs to be signed?

You can also ask: if you’re collecting other proposals and all the proposals look the same to you, how will you make a decision? All of that information can be in your proposal, which I highly recommend is also discussed in a conversation. Instead of just emailing your proposal, ask for a date and time so you can walk someone through it, hear their concerns and objections in real-time in your conversation so that you can make any adjustments necessary so the business will be yours.

Download a list of high-gain questions to ask during the first meeting with a prospect

4. Use Prospect’s Cell Phone

My second point is cell phones. You can use cell phones to reach people from a door-opening perspective. However, I don’t recommend that as the first outreach. Instead, reach out to them on their office phone, a personal email (not email marketing). And if after the first, second, or maybe the third time you use that outreach methodology, it doesn’t work, then try their cell phone.

You can even send them an email, letting them know to expect that you will call them on their cell phone. If you don’t have your prospect’s cell phone already when you get the meeting, say, “Just in case the technology fails, let’s exchange cell numbers.” And that permits you to use their cell phone later in the sales process to text them and say, for example, “Do you have 10 minutes for me at the end of today? I have a question for you,” or “I have some more information for you.” Reaching out to prospects’ cell phones is absolutely acceptable.

5. Understand How to Work Video Meeting Technology

Become comfortable with meeting on Zoom, Microsoft Teams, etc. Know how to work your tech and their tech because that’s what’s happening in business development. If your technology fails, or their technology fails, it will steal eight to twelve minutes from any meeting. If your meeting is half an hour, that’s a lot of time to miss. So make sure you know how to work your technology, that you’re using time properly, and you can get to the next step.

So, Jack, sellers in several companies are still struggling with the pandemic environment, even though we’re a couple of years into this. What is your advice for these people?

(Jack) It’s All About the Questions!

Jack:  Before I even answer that question, Caryn, I want to underscore something from what you just said. You just said it naturally, as if most sellers operate this way: when you are in front of a prospect, on the phone, or a Zoom call, that’s when you ask your questions. Your main point was all about asking questions. I find that many people in sales are trying to sell people something, and that’s not your path to success.

We have to discover whether we’ve got a good fit, and the only way you can find a good fit is by asking the questions. And what I like to tell people that I’m training in sales is, the person who asks the questions is in control, right? So I didn’t want to leave that one open because you made it assumptive that this is the way sellers operate. And it is just not the case now.

Caryn: I’m really glad you pointed that out. When people are going into any selling situation, I highly recommend identifying the top two or three questions they want to ask, so they know them ahead of time. And then, of course, whatever the prospect says in response, you can also use those words in your response. So yes. Thank you for stopping there.

How to Quickly Adapt to the New Post-Pandemic Sales Paradigm

(Jack) It’s Attitudinal

So the question was, “Hey, people sometimes are still struggling in the post-pandemic world.” I’ve got two big points that I want to drive home here.

1. Call it a parade!

The first one is half of success at selling has nothing to do with systems and processes, playbooks, and the product or the price. It has to do with our attitude and the six inches between our ears. If we wake up every morning as a seller and say, “Man, this pandemic is really difficult, and nobody’s having success,” and wallow in all of that negativity, it’s difficult to pick up the phone or get engaged in any way.

I often quote Woody Allen, and my favorite comment was, “If you see an angry mob coming towards you, get in front and call it a parade.” And what he meant by that is make the pandemic your friend. Think of the positive things you can take away from the situation.

Quite frankly, Caryn, I have clients whose salespeople are actually achieving better results in the last couple of years than they ever have. And one of the reasons is that they’re not losing all this time, commuting, going to a prospect’s place of business, finding the appointment’s been broken, back into the car, etc. Now, we can easily drop in a Zoom meeting, as we are here today, and I feel like I’m in the same room as you. So many people are getting used to these types of surroundings.

For example, I have a client in Ohio with 38 salespeople. The CEO says the salespeople have never been this good. They found that instead of salespeople not being available to practice and get together as a group, they can role-play from home over Zoom more frequently. So they put the 38 of them into threesomes in separate rooms, where one person is a prospect, one is a salesperson, and one is the observer. And they are practicing an hour every single day! There is no way pre-pandemic they would’ve ever afforded the time to do that. In fact, their salespeople used to get together twice a year at a conference, do a little bit of practice, and then get sent back out in the field. So the fact that they’re really good now is showing up.

2. Focus on What You CAN Control

The second point beyond attitude is this: focus on what you have control over. We don’t have control over the cure for the coronavirus. We don’t have the timeline for whether we need to get vaccinated or not vaccinated. We don’t know whether the mask works or doesn’t work or any of that. So why get worked up about any of those things? I need to focus on how I can do my business best in changing environments.

So my wife runs and owns a significant size business. And she tells me, “You know, I’m doing more networking and going to more conferences these days just by Zoom than I was physically capable of doing, and not impairing my business.” So, she’s taken a different approach and said, “Gosh, I am more efficient because I can operate in this pandemic enforced environment.”

I’ll witness myself: Imagine, when the pandemic lockdown hit two years ago in March, my business was speaking to large groups of people and traveling extensively. Both of those went away. And what I said is, “This thing’s going to last a lot longer than most people think.” I thought we would be affected by this pandemic for two to three years. And I said, “My public can’t afford to not have access to me during that period.”

So I hired some experts, and they built a studio in my home for virtual presentations. The lockdown was in March; in June, I set a Guinness world record for addressing the largest virtual business conference with 21,261 people. And that was three months after lockdown.

And it’s like Woody Allen’s always in my mind: find a way to turn it into a parade!

So now you’re joining me every month for my virtual workshops. But when I used to do them live, there is no way I could get an asset like you to join me in the different cities that I was doing it. So, my virtual programs are actually better than they were live, in my opinion. And my students, the participants, are saying, “We like it better too because it’s more efficient. We don’t need to get on a plane, in our car, go to a hotel, or do those things.” So quite frankly, some things that happened during the pandemic will be anchored in my business going forward.

How about from your perspective? When are the conferences, trade shows, in-person networking resuming? And if it’s down the road, what are sellers doing in the meantime?

(Caryn) Research Prospects and Make it Personal

1. Virtual Selling is Here to Stay

Everybody was hopeful that things were coming back at the end of 2021, and we saw that’s not what’s happening. It’s going to be a while. The sellers are the ones who want the conferences and trade shows to come back. The decision-makers don’t really want that. What’s fascinating about what’s happened with this technology shift is that decision-makers have realized they don’t have to leave their offices. Aside from not wanting to get sick, it’s very efficient, as you were just talking about. For the people who attend your workshop, it’s very efficient for the decision-makers to stay in their offices.

They’ve found that they can learn everything and talk to everybody they need by sitting in their offices. Once the in-person networking, conferences, and trade shows do come back (which I don’t think that’s going to happen for at least the next several months, if not for the remainder of the year), I don’t believe the big decision-makers are going to be at them.

2. More Direct Outreach

If people need to reach the decision-makers, they will have to figure out how to get them in their offices, whether those are home offices or in their offices at work. And what that means is more direct outreach. More people who feel comfortable researching a prospect, saying something that matters, and giving that prospect a reason why saying yes to a meeting to learn something new is the best decision they will make all week.

3. Some Companies Get Meetings, and You Can Too!

How is it that we’re going to get those meetings anyway? What we’re finding – and you talked about this – our meeting numbers for the Door Opener service® are better than they’ve ever been. So for people who still say to me, “Oh, my company’s not getting meetings. It’s really hard,” some companies are still getting these meetings.

How will you figure out how to make that happen for yourself?

(Jack) Doing Your Homework Pays Off

I was on a call yesterday with a client, and it was the first time that we ever chatted. It was really impressive that she had done her homework. She had gone deep into my website. She noticed that I posted my goals on there. She was asking about the goal-setting process, my wine days – I mean, she had done her research. That left a really high impression upon me. As we talked about her company and how her sellers operate, it is the rigor that exists in their company to do homework before outreach. That’s one of the things that you guys at the Door Opener® are famous for understanding what the lay of the land is before you go in and try to play in the land, so to speak.

I like your message, and that is to figure out how to start conversations whether or not in-person events are happening, and that’s the message that I heard from you.

(Caryn) Don’t Let Your Competitors Eat Your Lunch!

That’s right. Business development success is possible if you do some of the things we talked about today regarding what is working now in business development. It is possible for you – and other companies are doing it too. So for those who are not doing it, your competitors may end up eating your lunch!

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