We have a family tradition. We bake Birthday Cake from scratch. No boxed cake mixes. Fresh everything.
Birthday Cake is my beloved mother-in-law’s Red Velvet Cake recipe with a twist introduced by my hubby: you choose the color of your birthday cake. Baking birthday cake is a highly anticipated event in my household!
Can your customers say the same thing about your business development relationship with them?
I was nervous the first time I baked Birthday Cake. I’m a decent cook, but lack confidence as a baker. In assessing my core baking competencies, I figured that I could: follow a recipe and pray.
I quickly learned that when you bake a cake from scratch, it doesn’t quite come out the same way every time.
Depending on the time of year and humidity in the room, as well as how accurately and uniformly your oven heats, duration of baking time, absorption of food coloring and texture and taste are impacted.
I’m a scientist by training. Instead of being nervous about the process and outcome, I experimented instead. I ended up relaxing and having more consistent results. I’m now known for my Green Bay Packers Birthday Cake with Frozen Tundra Frosting!
It’s the same thing when you develop business. Try developing it with a “from scratch” mindset.
If you do the same thing, every time, the exact out-of-the-box way, you know you don’t get the same business outcomes. There’s always a variation in each selling theme with each customer.
What does it take to develop business “from scratch”?
That’s where your creativity is called for and your responsiveness to variables in the business development and sales processes.
Like baking a cake, the environment in which you are developing business changes. It’s a different quarter, it’s a different economic environment, there may be fluctuations in availability of what you are selling which lengthen how long you “bake” the relationship and eventually close the sale.
Like baking a cake, business development and selling are not simply matters of following the steps in order, exactly, time after time.
A little bit of improvisation goes a long way.
I used to work for a sales organization which provided sales scripts for the reps to use: to the letter, time after time. I don’t need to tell you how unsuccessful these scripts were, when applied over a diverse customer base.
When I questioned the wisdom of blindly following sales scripts, my manager told me: “Well, come up with your own, figure out what works, and use it over and over and over.” I don’t need to tell you how unsuccessful that Wear-Wash-Rinse-Repeat recipe was with complex sales in manufacturing.
Baking your business cake calls for you to remaining engaged and involved throughout the process. Pay attention to what’s different and what’s the same each time you approach your customers.
You may need to alter your recipe. You won’t be aware of how to vary your methods if you aren’t reading, listening and learning from what your customers are telling you about their specific recipes for business development success.
You may need to fine tune your business development and sales recipes in the process.
Won’t that be a delicious and creative business development outcome for everyone involved?
Babette N. Ten Haken, President of Sales Aerobics for Engineers®, LLC, catalyzes collaborative business transition, startup growth, and professional development. She works with non-traditional sellers, engineers, small and midmarket manufacturers, and technical startups. She was named one of the Top 50 Sales & Marketing Influencers and Bloggers in 2013 and 2014.