Salmon are amazing creatures. When it comes time to spawn, they have to swim from the ocean to large rivers where they then swim upstream in some of the most powerful currents to qualify to mate. Once they reach their preferred gravel bed and mate, they unfortunately die but an entirely new life cycle begins.
The salmon are similar to the process of business development in the sense that there are stages of progression a potential customer must follow to be qualified as client.
The first stage of business development starts with marketing. A strategic marketing plan will instinctually push and pull potential clients to your company. It is important to fund a marketing strategy in such a way that it makes a difference, but is not wasteful. Much like skilled product developers, successful marketers will always be re-evaluating their strategies and trying new things, building on tested ways of reaching customers. To marketers, your brand is their product and they should always be reforming the brand to fit your product’s true identity.
Once customers have instinctually found their ways to you—the business developer—it is your responsibility to push them upstream to the sales team, or to disqualify them. Of course, you want to qualify as many as possible. But it is important that their needs fit your offerings. You want to be as familiar as possible with your product and then understand the needs of your customer.
Understanding the needs of a customer is an art form. It is a combination of technical knowledge and genuine care for your customer. The client qualification process includes becoming friends with your potential client. As Abraham Lincoln said:
“If you would win a man to your cause, first convince him that you are his sincere friend. Therein is a drop of honey that catches his heart, which, say what you will, is the great high-road to his reason, and which, when once gained, you will find but little trouble in convincing his judgment of the justice of your cause.”
This is networking in its purest form. For when you “convince him that you are his sincere friend,” you become a friend, as well. And you only want what is best for your friends, which may mean not passing them to the sales team.
As customers climb the sales ladder, the sales team is their last stop before becoming clients. It is imperative that you match up your customer/friend with the right sales person. Make sure you are a part of the transition to the sales associate. That sales associate will reflect you in everything he or she does and says to your qualified potential customer, so be wise when choosing your sales associate. You need to make sure you can trust that person with this valuable cargo.
And, once the sales team has closed the deal, you now have a client that, if cared for correctly, could yield many, many more potential customers through word-of-mouth referrals. And can you guess to whom they will refer the business? They will most definitely refer their old friends to their new friends. And the life cycle repeats itself.
Matt Bunker is the VP of Business Development & Marketing at VisiSite Technologies, Inc. VisiSite provides property peace by providing asset, maintenance, and task flow management software solutions. Visit visisite.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.