Slowing Down to Speed up – As we slowly emerge from the pandemic, sales teams cannot conduct business-as-usual. HPC’s Paul Irvine presents this as an opportunity for sales and business development teams.
While Covid has undoubtedly created new challenges, a nugget of opportunity is presenting itself to business development professionals amidst this change and upheaval. And with the right mix of client understanding alongside proven tools, you can master the hybrid approach, seize this opportunity, and maximise outcomes in highly competitive markets.
Life has changed for business development professionals in both micro and macro contexts. While the macro changes have been profound, at a micro level, the pandemic has created the space to maintain focus, stay close to customers, and cultivate relationships.
As we slowly emerge from the pandemic, sales teams cannot conduct business-as-usual. And this is where the opportunity lies. To navigate the next 12 months, clients need suppliers and business relationships they can depend on. They want to emerge from this period of uncertainty with a select group of trusted advisors and suppliers who understand their business and can flex their offering to meet the new reality that they and their organisations are facing.
Now is the time to galvanise that connection nurtured with clients and bring the business relationship to the next level, but only if you understand your client.
Through our work with business development teams in several industries, we know this opportunity exists and we believe that by addressing three key issues, sales professionals can develop their own strategy to grasp this opportunity.
1 – Understand where your client is right now
‘Know your client’ has always been a traditional mantra within business development, but truly knowing your client and their challenges has never been more important. Life has changed irrevocably for many clients. The pandemic has upended markets, challenged supply chains and impacted their customers.
Understanding their priorities for the coming year, the challenges they face and the potential opportunities that exist for them is key to your success. You cannot just assume that things will return to the way they were pre-pandemic.
2 – Understand the opportunities that exist
By working hard to understand the nature of Covid-induced change in industry, and the full impact on clients, you are already stacking the odds in your favour. Taking the time to slow down and understand the problems that your client faces is an act of respect to your client and an investment in your own success.
Your clients will already be starting to identify problems and they will need great partners to help them solve these problems. There may also be problems and opportunities that they have yet to consider. Your role as a Business Development professional is to leverage your insight gathered across multiple clients to identify what these unforeseen opportunities may be. Taking the time to consider these and sharing your thoughts with your client is an act of trust and faith in the relationship that will pay off over time.
3 Apply this Insight Alongside Proven Sales Tools
With a clear understanding of both how working life has changed for your client and how you can help them adjust to it, the next steps can be taken. Shift your attention to applying this insight in practical, day-to-day terms.
Effective Preparation is the foundation of any successful business development professional. With the insight you have gleaned from the first two steps above, consider how this impacts on your preparation for meetings and pitches. What questions are you asking? What insights are you sharing? Are you genuinely taking the time to understand your client or diving in, looking for the business?
Embrace Hybrid: Developing business in a hybrid world brings its own challenges but also opportunities. In some ways, it has never been easier to speak to people and hybrid can also speed up the business development process as you reserve face to face tie for what really matters.
Mindset and Positive thinking are the foundation on which to build your approach. Taking the time to understand your clients and the challenges they face requires faith in your process and the discipline to stick with it. By following this approach, you will build confidence in the knowledge that you fully understand the impact of Covid on your client and how life has changed for them. Use all your experience and knowledge to present a confident, clear proposition to your client.
Every economic forecast is predicting overall growth for the economy and there are opportunities to develop your business in the coming months. But only for those brave enough to slow down before they speed up.
Paul is HPC’s lead facilitator on sales and business development programmes. His extensive industry knowledge of the corporate world of sales and relationship management enables him to develop highly effective, bespoke solutions for HPC’s clients.
Prior to joining HPC, Paul worked for 15 years in sales, consultancy, portfolio management and new business development roles within the financial services industry
He specialises in the design, delivery, project management and evaluation of bespoke sales development programmes, working with a range of client companies across multiple sectors and distribution channels in UK, Europe, United States, Middle East and Asia.