Lean ideas for business development

This is the second part of the     2-series article about the smart lean ideas for business development.

Some people think that business development is a synonym for sales and hiring salespeople instead of business developers. However, the only common thing between them is that sales are the final link in the chain.

Business development starts long before a product is launched, even before it is built.

It includes the following stages:

  1. Research of the market at the initial stage of MVP development, which provides information about the availability of similar products/services, competition, analysis of customer needs and a customer value, proposals for MVP changes on the basis of customer feedback.
  2. Business development plan after the MVP is built, which comprises careful targeting of prospects, designing sales strategies, tailoring sales pitches to the particular product or service, testing them and selecting the most successful one.
  3. Human resource management, that is, recruiting, motivating and training company’s sales force.
  4. Sales management, which refers to developing and providing custom-made sales training, identifying and analyzing the reasons for each sales decline, and proposing solutions.

Many companies skip some of these steps, or just jump to the last one – sales. They build a product which is either not responsive to customer needs or delivers no value to them. And what happens next – salesmen with a previously proven record of sales success in another company spectacularly fail.

Nobody, however, calculates in advance how much such an experiment would cost. Here is an example, one company developed expensive and complicated software and started selling it.

They hired top sales agents, gave them an immense amount of information about the product, and set targets. As a result, not a single sale was made the next five months. While liaising with customers, the agents pinpointed the problems: on one hand, the software was too expensive; and on the other, some prospects had already developed their own version. The agents shared their findings with the management but were accused of not investing enough time and efforts.

So next time, please, don’t kill the salesperson! S/he is just the messenger!

Other companies fail at sales management. They miss opportunities to grow their business by using too general and inefficient sales strategies or by not motivating their sales force.

There is a company offering a broad range of products that provide great value for their customers. Besides, they have a huge potential market spreading before their eyes. But how do they train their salespersons?

Instead of tailoring sales pitches to their products and targeting them to customer needs, they use a sales pitch which includes a questionnaire of over twenty questions a prospect should be asked and a lengthy speech about the virtues of their products, but nothing about their value to customers.

Really? Who is going to endure this torture and buy your product after that?

Moreover, at their training sessions they manage to demotivate their sales agents by using simple statistical data: you should not expect a success rate greater than 1 out of 10 closed small deals. The company keeps recruiting and training agents who leave after 2-3 months after they see the results of their hard work. What a waste!

Lean ideas for HR management

Human resource management is another important part of product development and sale, to which the lean principles can also be applied.

The lean principles may be adopted in two related fields of human resource management – supervision and motivation.

Supervision is an integral part of HR management, but in large companies it takes a lot of time and huge efforts to monitor and control work forces and processes.

Supervision is not only related to control, but also to motivation. Excellent performance should be praised and rewarded!

In addition, there is a third important aspect that has been underestimated until recently – empathy.

Empathic managers are more successful and their teams achieve better results. Furthermore, empathy is also an important sales skill by which salespersons build up trust in their prospects.

Empathy is one of the key factors for business growth since it is the easiest way to build and maintain good relationships with employees, partners and clients.

Modern business development does not need to be supported by old-fashioned, grandiose surveys, full of assumptions about customer needs and wishes. During the product implementation process try not to bore your prospects to death.

Make them enjoy your presence and never forget to put yourself in their shoes

And if you do not want to see your next great idea moved into the recycle bin, just take it lean and enjoy what you are doing!

Do  you have some private experience on that topic to share? Ho do you train your salesmen or was trained previously?

Let me know in the comment section below.

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