For the past year, I’ve been in charge of Sales Development in HSM, with the primary focus on creating customers and relationships in the areas of Salesforce solutions and services. During this period, I’ve contacted over 500 potential customers from Croatia and abroad, and have created dozens of sales opportunities for the internal sales team.
The job is truly different than what most of us are used to and requires a certain period of time for each prospective client. Each of them is well explored and contact is adjusted accordingly.
Sales Development vs Telesales
Let me begin by clarifying the difference between Sales Development and the (traditional) Telesales approach, since this difference often results in a wrong perception of the Sales Development position.
Telesales often brings with it a stigma in terms of a reputation risk. The purpose of Telesales is to make contact, to make a good introduction to the product and to immediately start closing the sale – the focus is on the product and the company that sells it (“Good afternoon, I’m calling from…”, “What we can offer is … “,” This will allow you … “). We, us, ours, ours, ours – you get the gist. This is very noticeable during the call and the client can often have a negative perception of the caller.
What Business Development does is turn the focus from the seller/service provider towards the client, which changes the entire tone of the conversation.
What does that actually look like?
The purpose of the call is to learn about the client and the challenges in their business, to develop a relationship and to maintain contact later. Of course, if it happens that it’s possible to sell something immediately – excellent. But it’s more important to build relationships and to find and understand the challenges of their job. Only then is the goal to turn to the product / service and how your company adds value to one’s business.
This also changes the nature of the conversation. The conversation can be a lot more relaxed, there is no pressure to make instant sales, and other methods of communicating and maintaining contact (e-mail, LinkedIn…) are more appropriate. For this reason, Sales Development has a high level of synergy with CRM solutions that allow this process to be very efficiently monitored.
If someone is not open to talking right away, this doesn’t necessarily mean that they outright refuse to talk, but are simply not able to at this time. Countless times, these same contacts were open for conversation at another time.
Invest the time to prepare for the conversation.
A detailed investigation of the potential client and their business before the call helps the conversation and makes it easier to build relationships. It’s always better to have a few quality conversations than dozens of unsuccessful ones.
Sometimes it’s better to open with e-mail communication.
Sometimes it is good to start with an e-mail, which needs to be direct and short and creates a good basis for the first conversation. What can happen is the person you’re talking to having incorrect or no insight into the product in question. Then it’s great to send them an e-mail with more details, explanations and material. This often creates a chance for further discussion.
…but not to the point of oversaturation.
Call frequency depends on many factors and subjective impressions, but as a rule, it’s rare to call the same contact twice the same day. The number of potential customers complaining about the frequency of calls is almost non-existent. The important thing is not to push the sales process and make meaningless calls several times a day.
Build long-term relationships.
When someone isn’t interested or able to talk at a certain time, make it a task to contact them every three or four months, to see how they are or if anything has changed. This approach brought us a lot of very positive feedback. After a few calls, the clients already knew who we were. What’s also great is to activate clients – for example, if your company is organizing an event or a presentation meant for the industry the client is in, it’s a good idea to seize that opportunity to contact the client.
People react well to a direct approach. For instance, it’s good to try to find out at the very start who the decision maker in their company is.