7 business development skills to separate you from the herd

  1. Know the market 
    • A successful Business Development person knows the playing field of their industry.
    • They understand the ebbs and flows of the market. They know what that industry is made up off, know the key players and their unique selling points. They get the interconnecting dots – i.e. how the market fits into the jigsaw puzzle in the eyes of the consumer.
    • Many salespeople frequently only know their own part and their own organisation, and it ends there.
    • When you know the fuller picture, you can then offer a holistic and objective view of the sorts of problems that client would be experiencing, where and how they can be fixed and how it all fits together.
    • What to do: Research the industry, share ‘generic industry’ content on LI. Be seen at the right places. Comment on industry forums. Be the thought leader of your field – be seen as the authority.
  2. What’s your value?
    • What value do you bring to the table? What does your product, solution or service offer? Why would someone want it and what does it mean for them?  / how could it benefit them? Often, we get caught up in the price of our own product that we don’t see what the implications are for the buyer.
    • To know this, you need to know innately what pain your prospect is experiencing, how long they have had it, what solutions they have tried, what they liked and didn’t like.
    • You need to know what they know about the different solutions available and the unique points of each.
    • What to do: learning your features and benefits upside down, inside out. Know where you sit in the marketplace.  
  3. Resourcefulness
    • Ok, this has to be my favourite.
    • Firstly, the definition of resourceful is the ability to overcome problems or to make do with what is available to create a solution. An example of resourcefulness is someone who is able to find leads and opportunities independently, overcoming any possible obstacles that might arise.
    • Let’s jump to  the ‘average’ salespeople’ for a moment. Most people do the bare minimal (I may not say that to their face)! But seriously, think about it –  they are put off by small hurdles – i.e. the client is ‘too hard’ to reach (salesperson gives up) the prospect not calling back, (salesperson assumes the prospect isn’t interested, gives up), the client said no 5 months ago (they must still mean ‘no’ now).
    • Flex that!
    • What to do: think differently about each reach out. Think about all the ‘work arounds’ that you can do. Mainly utilise LinkedIn, ‘who do they know that I know’. 
  4. Understand people
    • Understanding people is the number one factor in sales.  However, most companies spend more effort and time on getting their team to understand what they are selling (that is useful) but is secondary to understanding who you are selling to.  ‘Understanding people’ is where the focus needs to be!
    • From top down – let’s start easy. What questions will they have for you and you for them? What do they care about, what are they concerned about, what worries them, what excites them, what motivates them, why do they want to buy it.  All this can be gathered by expert questioning and top notch listening and understanding.
    • When the client is discussing their issues, you can easily build a profile of this client: what they want and don’t want, what they like or don’t like. What matters and what’s a ‘nice to have, must have’. If they are detailed or top line. If they are visual or auditory, if they need more time or less time. What motivates them, what they need from you to make their life easier.
    • If they are turned on or off by reviews (and which review), how they measure professionalism and what they expect from you.
    • What to do: recognise that you are not the client, that we tend to prejudge and assume, so you need to step into their shoes. See things from their point of view. Get rid of all assumptions.  Instead, focus on all meaningful questions, listening and being present so that you fully understand.  
  5. Adaptability
    • The person with the most behavioural flexibility gets the sale. That’s the rule.
    • If you are regimented in your engagement you will be running the meeting your way, missing signals and not putting the client first.
    • Your job is to run every engagement in a meaningful, relevant way –making it about them and not about you. Adapt to them.
    • After all, our job as salespeople is to make it easy for clients to buy.
    • What to do: observe where your default behaviour is and have awareness over how the customer is interacting so you start to be more flexible in your style.
  6. Thick Skin
    • It’s a fact that once you stretch your comfort zone it doesn’t shrink back.
    • The biggest hurdle to every sale is the salesperson getting in the way of themselves.
    • You really need to have a plan, a backup plan, then a ‘get out of jail’ sentence and honestly, get over yourself. What’s the worst that can happen? They say, ‘sod off’?
    • You are polite, you reason they are having a bad day and you politely move on.
    • Emotional intelligence has a huge part to play in Business Development. Those with higher EQs do better (I’ve just made that up / my observation) but you can see that it bears true.
    • What to do: push your comfort zone daily, get comfortable getting uncomfortable.
  7. Understand, Communicate and Close
    • Know what they want (great questions, listening, understanding).
    • Communicate your solution effectively and ‘land’ a compelling reason to buy and close – just ask for the sale.
    • Your ‘asking’ actually is irrelevant, I threw that in – by now the client should actually be closing on you. They should be asking to buy.
    • What to do: ask great questions in order to understand your client then adapt your solution to them.


What to do

Learn more:

1. Read our blog on 7 key criteria’s for business development success

2. Watch our LIVE WEBINAR: Business development strategies to establish yourself as the trusted advisor here 

Smarter Selling is sales and mindset coaching for high performing leaders and teams