What am I thinking?
Literally, this is usually the first place you would start – the ‘what you consider’ when evaluating a business development strategy. We all know that if your business doesn’t have an infinite amount of incoming request for product/service, then you are among the majority who has to go out and get it once you stop totally relying on your referral market. And because this initial function of the sales process is necessary and can significantly impact the rest of your sales strategy, getting it right matters.
Understand that every company’s’ sales initiatives may differ and there should be no ‘one size fit all’ solution to support these initiatives. Given that, we would like to share a few key considerations that apply across strategies and industries and should be part of any decision making process.
Do we do this internally or outsource it?
If you’re considering doing it in-house, the thought process is simpler, familiar and more intimate. It usually hinges on a few known factors such as the capabilities of your staff, the tools you have or can acquire to perform effectively, and the resources necessary to execute. Product and target market can vary, but what will matter is your internal interpretation of success.
Considering an outsourced option isn’t intimate, it’s more informative and a less known quantity. To complicate that decision making process is the sometimes deserved and often times unfair reputation of the industry. To boot, you also have every color of the rainbow to choose from. They range from the cheap to unaffordable, commission only, partnership options, performance based, pay-per-lead, and retainer model to name a few.
Don’t be alarmed folks; there is value in each of these options based on your agenda. Some will never work for every industry or sales strategy and others will only work with higher product/service revenues. We believe there are very effective options and some useless ones in the list above*. At the end of the day if you can accept the soundness of their methodology, can set the criteria, and define the outcomes you have to trust that you made the right choice.
*We will be delving deeper into these options to narrow the scope in our subsequent blogs.
What strategy do we go with?
This is where you get to evaluate what is important to positively impact your sales and revenue goals. Try not to think ‘magic bullet” at this point, you can try ‘better ammunition” to stay with the theme. Also keep in mind that some functions of these models are more significant and applicable to larger organizations and structured sales teams than other midsize companies or those with a less formal process. Knowing what’s available in the market can help narrow the options you evaluate based on its relevance within your sales infrastructure and strategy.
Here’s the bright side, there are a few functions that will always contribute to a positive outcome within the pre-sales process when performed intelligently. Appointment setting that is qualified and based on your criteria. Market research to understand the impact of your value proposition and sales opportunities based on your prospect’s buying cycle. Marketing lists that you get to own when sourced relevantly and developed appropriately. Flexibility as it pertains to supporting current marketing events (trade shows/webinars) or the overall sales agenda. Some firms offer this a-la-carte, in combination, none at all and all together. How these are offered or what you require will determine the cost.
With this foundation you get to factor in the value of a successful engagement, how and who (US or Foreign) represents you/your brand, and your definition of success.
How should I define success?
Easy answer – its math. X # of leads, convert this, – the cost, carry the 1…ROI…………..Yeah, I get it.
To accurately answer this question I think you have to do a few things first. Understand the capabilities and limitations of the model you chose. Commit to a realistic timeframe and process. Forecast your potential gain against a conservative conversion ratio and an agreed upon deliverable to determine an ROI. Evaluate you team. Be honest about you sales acumen, you or your team will still have to take the opportunity to the finish line. And place value (+ or -) on every component and outcome of the process, monetary or not.
Typically, a well-executed model can yield valuable outcomes such as qualified appointments, strategic partnerships, market intelligence, branding, a sound pipeline, developed and proprietary databases, a trained team, useable reporting, exclusivity and ownership. Some models are capable of all of these, some of these or very little of these and you get to place value on all of these, some of these or none.
So success will lie within the outcomes of your project if you accept that the above considerations are relevant to its definition. If not……….then it’s just math.
Our intention was to share with you bite size-excerpts of discussions we’ve conducted with your peers in the professional arena about business development and this segment focused on ‘considerations’. It is our hope that you have benefited from it and we are looking forward to your feedback.
Join us for our next post.