The New Science of Developing New Business
By Donald Bodwell, PT Consulting Partners
"If we only knew, what we already know." When business performance lags, this is a thought that drifts around in a company's subconscious. Oxymoron? No. What it means is that the all the expertise the company needs to perform is fully ingrained in the minds of the company's personnel, but not in the right people. For example the V.P. of Sales knows everything needed to sell to new customers, but there are serious gaps and shortcomings in the people who are underneath. This phenomenon is most apparent in the area of new business development, where companies are striving to build their customer and revenue base.
New business development is about learning and applying a set of clearly defined practices and activities that, over the years, have proven to be most effective at generating sales. Of course there is an art side to developing new business as well. It's a skill that is only acquired over years of patient practice. It's about relating to customers, focus, intensity, sincerity, trust building, and other learned and natural skills. On the other hand, the science side of the equation is about doing the right things, at the right time to assure that the opportunity to sell profitable business is maximized. Unless customers are standing in line to give you orders, both sides are needed.
The Internet, and especially the corporate Intra-net, with it's secure server environment, creates a new and inexpensive opportunity to codify and communicate what every sales person should know. Knowledge the company's very best sales people already have about how to sell new business: "What should I be doing and how often should I be doing it?" If you think about it, you realize that new business development can be seen as a series of interconnected activities that are performed in a particular sequence over a period of time. Then the activities begin all over again. For example, in the service sector, new business development begins by meeting with new or existing customers and probing to identify needs that might be met by your company. You want to understand your customer's strategic objectives and plans so you can match up your company's supportive services. Proposals are defined and presented. The customer is encouraged to accept the proposal or negotiate the deal. The deal is closed and the service order is generated. The service is delivered. Feedback is sought and the cycle begins anew. All of this can be viewed as a series of connected activities. Each of these activities involves a sequence of steps that explain what should be done and in what order to maximize the effectiveness of the activity.
The best salespeople perform these business development activities automatically... subconsciously really, without thinking of them as activities or steps in an overall process. Today's Internet makes it possible to communicate the company's best sales practices to the entire sales force anytime and anywhere in the world. Using HTML's hyperlink capability, activities are easily tied together in the proper sequence. Companies can even provide links between the described activities and internal resources the companies have developed to support each activity. Our K-Seek system provides one method for using the Internet to make a company's store of knowledge available to those who need it most. The Internet also makes it practical to set up a real-time reporting system to confirm that the sales force is completing its business development activities in a timely manner. Then if there is a shortfall in expected sales results, sales managers can check an Internet based "Dashboard" that uses green, yellow, and red colors to highlight areas where sales people have not done those activities that they should have done. Such a system could support a carrot or a stick approach, or both, depending on the company's philosophy about incentives and sanctions.
Oddly, few if any, companies have attempted to use their Intra-nets to document and communicate new business development processes. And none have tied all this together into a reporting system that provides meaningful insight into sales success and failure. But that will soon change. Those companies that are early adapters will drive their competitors to distraction, then their competitors might be heard to mutter: "If our sales team only knew what it knew."
To learn more about how this technology can be applied in your company: Contact Us at PT Consulting Partners.