Business development processes are downright atomic when you stop to think about them. Take out a sheet of paper. Draw a picture of your business development process (OK, it can be a stick figure).
Your drawing probably looks like a cross between a tangled ball of yarn and some sort of atomic configuration. You certainly didn’t draw a straight line.
Yet that’s what we’ve been taught to expect, at some point in our sales careers. If you follow these steps A-D, at the specific times E-H, then you most certainly will get to the end of the sales rainbow – in the time allotted by your sales organization to close that sale (what’s yours – 60-90 days?)!
Business development process and selling don’t happen in a straight line. In spite of your best efforts at coordinating training, assets, knowledge management, and lead-gen and nurturing tools, your customers always seem to be at some other point in their decision-making algorithm.
Your customers are like charged electrons accelerating around an atomic core. That’s a difficult model to align with.
Like an atom, your customers’ energy and focus ramps up and down. Their attention jumps from seemingly transient priority to another transient priority. You never seem to catch them at the “right” time. (Don’t worry, we won’t be discussing Higgs boson particles in this blog post!).
Your clients are all over the place. They have to be. Their organizational, competitive and economic ecosystems are constantly pulling their focus and energy to higher and lower levels.
It’s up to you to be proactive and anticipatory of the situation. It’s up to you to be prepared to backtrack, regroup, redefine, renurture, and redevelop these folks.
It’s up to you to develop an atomic business development process. So you, and your product/platform/service, are located in approximately the same area where your decision makers eventually land.
It’s frustrating, isn’t it? Especially when your sales culture is all about making your numbers on a quarterly basis.
Here are three tips for retooling and recalibrating your own expectations when selling:
Tip #1: Conserve your own sales energy.
In order to be proactive and anticipatory, you’ll need to make better choices about which leads to nurture and which ones to walk away from. Which assets to apply towards your customers’ and prospects’ respective business cases. Which selling environments are volatile and which are stable.
Tip #2: Develop customers sold on you, and not simply your data.
Selling conversations are not a means of adding to your customers’ data overload. Do you know how many folks already are throwing and spieling facts and figures at them, hoping to influence their decision to buy? How have you positioned yourself, as a refreshing and differentiated oasis for your customers?
Tip #3: Be realistic in forecasting outcomes.
It’s one thing to realize that your customers are zipping around their own atomic business development orbitals. Consider that your own organization has a lot of charged particles to keep track of, as well. Is your forecast fantasy or reality?
Think atomic business development process! Become a catalyst for your company, your customers, and yourself.
Babette N. Ten Haken, President of Sales Aerobics for Engineers®, LLC, catalyzes business transition, startup growth, and professional development. She works with non-traditional sellers, engineers, manufacturers, and technical startups.