Article: Is Your Business Two Faced?

Selling on the Internet

As competition increases and barriers fall, many companies look to new markets and customers to strengthen and grow their business. While there are many opportunities with promising potential and with the increasing use of e-commerce, deciding where to start and navigating the risks of doing new business can be quite daunting. An initial starting point is asking whether you are maximizing business from your current customers.

While tempting to leave this at the administrative level, it must be stressed that new business development is about learning and applying a set of clearly defined practices and activities that, over the years, have proven to be the most effective at generating sales. It’s a skill that is only acquired over years of patient practice. It’s about relating to customers, focus, intensity, sincerity, trust building and other learned sales and natural skills. As such in this new globally connected world it’s important that a role be created and filled with an experienced individual rich in a range of diverse yet complimentary sales skills, not a member of the ruling administrative hierarchy.

Your Business Development Manager plays an important role in creating and managing new strategic relationships with key business accounts. They need strong selling and closing skills; a proven ability to influence and manage customer relationships; a history of establishing account sales; strong negotiation skills; effective presentation and interpersonal skills; excellent written and verbal communication skills; industry and business development experience. Does this describe you or your Business Development Manager?

These invaluable skills should not be underrated. With the advent of the Internet, and especially the corporate Intra-net, your Business Development Manager now has a new and inexpensive opportunity to codify and communicate what every sales person should know that your company’s very best sales people already know about selling new business. They realize that new business development is a series of interconnected activities that are performed in a particular sequence over a period of time. Then the activities begin all over again.

For example, new business development begins by meeting with new or existing customers and probing to identify needs that might be met by your company. You want to understand your customer’s strategic objectives and plans so you can match up your company’s services. Proposals are defined and presented. The customer is encouraged to accept the proposal or negotiate the deal. The deal is closed and the new order is generated. The product or service is delivered. Feedback is sought and the cycle begins anew. All of this is a series of connected activities. Each of these activities involves a sequence of steps that explain what should be done and in what order to maximize the effectiveness of the activity.

The best salespeople perform these business development activities automatically, subconsciously really, without thinking of them as activities or steps in an overall process. Your Business Development Manager with the support of your Sales and Marketing personnel can analyze these steps as they apply to your company and ensure that the company communicates its best sales practices to the entire sales force anytime and anywhere in the world.

Remember, your sales force and website is the visible face of your company. Is it a professional, knowledgeable, customer orientated face or a bureaucratic mask? – John Shenton – February, 2003