You know you have to sell, but the
truth is many of you don’t like it very much. Many entrepreneurs loathe
the idea of selling their goods and services to new customers
(strangers). True enough, it’s much easier and more fun to answer the
call of a prospect referred to you by a trusted source.
And make no mistake, a referral is the gold standard of business
development, but referrals are not predictable. You will never know when
one will show up. Growing your business will require you to develop a
pipeline full of eager prospects that may do business with you in the
Building a pipeline of qualified prospects is hard work!
You probably don’t think much about selling to new clients when you
are busy working with current clients and customers. Most entrepreneurs
only get serious about selling when their business slows down. This can
be a fatal mistake.
It takes a very long time to create a new customer from a “suspect”.
Sometimes the sales cycle can be a year or more. When I was running my
marketing communications agency, it could easily take 18 months of
solid, consistent business development work to win a new client. If you
need a new customer this month, you’re already in trouble.
Every business needs a steady stream of new customers. If selling is
a distasteful, anxiety-ridden activity for you, then you’ll have to
change your thinking and belief about what selling really is and why it
is an activity that must mastered and constantly implemented in your
daily activities if your business is to grow.
Let me help you get your thinking straight on what selling really is
and how you can turn your sales procrastination into sales power taking
your business to the next level.
Selling is being of service to people.
There’s a common expression that “people hate to be sold, but they
love to buy”. The deeper truth in that statement is people only love to
buy from the people/brands they trust and admire. Through your sales and
business development activities, your job is to be of service to your
At the early stage in the sales process your not selling, you’re
adding value to people. You are helping them to solve a problem and
fulfill a need. Sometimes the customer’s need is blatant, needing a
solution right away or they will experience pain of some sort. More
often the need is latent. In other words, the customer does not “have to
buy” at all.
Your competitor is the customer’s decision not to buy.
In either case, the prospective client will not buy from you until
you earn their trust and respect. The best way to do earn and deserve
new business is to serve people by demonstrating your interest in their
success rather than yours.
The difference between selling and business development.
Stop thinking about selling something and start to learn how to
nurture and develop new business. In every industry there’s a well
defined “sales cycle”. As I mentioned earlier, the sales cycle takes
time–usually a long time.
You have to understand the nature of this cycle in your industry, so
that you can strategically and tactically align your actions to match
the prospects need state where ever they happen to be in the sales
cycle. At the early stage of this cycle, your mission is not to sell
anything, your mission is to begin the process of developng a business
relationship. The big idea is for the prospective client to desire to
take you along with them as they move deeper into their buying process.
Buying is a process not an event.
In any product or service category, the prospect goes through a process of buying. It usually goes something like this:
The buyer becomes aware of their need to buy and they begin to investigate sources of supply.
Early Stage Buyer
At this level, the prospect begins to research, interview, budget and
plan, then send requests for information from potential vendors and
resources in the marketplace. Their needs are still undefined and they
are simply shopping.
Late Stage Buyer
Going deeper into the buying process, the prospect has defined their
need, established a budget and a timeline for completion of the process.
They actively interview a small group of candidate resources to buy
from. This usually comes in the form of a request for proposal.
At this final stage, the prospect has made their decision to buy and from whom. This is where the deal is closed.
Your business development activities must align perfectly to the
buyer’s process–leading both of you to the final act of closing the
sale. But your business development process is still incomplete. Because
every buyer will experience remorse in their purchase decision, they
will seek reassurance from you they have made the right decision to do
business with you. This is where you must be of greatest value to your