Consider Asking Yourself These Important Questions during the Hazy, Lazy Days of Summer
Whether you’re an entrepreneur launching your first product or the CEO of an established company, driving sales is the primary goal to your business’s success. This mid-summer junction provides a perfect opportunity to think about what’s worked for growing your business the first 6 months and what might need to be corrected. We provide simple, actionable questions to consider, and perhaps react to, to enhance your business development efforts before the long hot summer days pass and the leaves start changing color.
Are you confusing new business development with sales?
New business development and sales are both vital to growing your business, but the approach is different. The two need to complement each other, not be separate strategies. Business development is the behind-the-scenes effort of your business, designed to develop leads by researching and securing new channels of distribution and forming appropriate business partnerships. In turn, these leads are handed off to sales, the customer-facing piece of the puzzle. The goal of sales then is to build the relationships, engage the customers and close the deals.
As you are grilling your hamburgers and hot dogs, think:
What can be done to better coordinate my business development strategy with my sales efforts? Am I using my website, social media, face-to-face networking to effectively mine for new partners/prospects? What more can I do to build stronger relationships with my partners/customers?
Can your customers/partners find you?
The Internet is a powerful resource and these days it seems most everyone has access to a smart phone to “Google” a company or ask SIRI or Alexa to research a product. To say that having a web presence is critical to a company’s sales growth is a Captain Obvious type statement. That said, it’s critical to remember your customers (prospects and existing) and business partners DO visit your website (and your competition’s) and social sites to learn more about your products, check on positive and negative reviews and place orders. Your site should make it easy to have your customer connect with you by phone, e-mail, text or social media. If it makes sense, you should have a newsletter. An appropriate presence on social media (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram or LinkedIn), wherever your customers might be, is mandatory. Being visible is critical but you also need to be different than the rest. If your site is stale and your content isn’t regularly updated, you might be losing out on important business development and new sales opportunities.
When you get back from the beach, take a look at your (and your competition’s) homepage and social sites, and review:
Is it easy to navigate, does it showcase new products, is it compelling to visit, what type of content to they feature, is it easy to place an order/or request a follow up sales call?
Do you use storytelling as a tool to grow your business?
You are selling a new widget and it has tons of features that you’ve spent thousands of dollars on to develop. The benefits to the customer are clear; it might save them time, increase their productivity or make them sleep better at night. But does your end user really care? The quick answer is, “of course”, but that’s not enough anymore. It needs a story to break through and resonate! Your customer does indeed want to know about your product and certainly expects that what they are buying will perform as promised-but in today’s business environment they also want to have a connection with the brand or company. As moviegoers we are riveted when we see the action hero get pushed down only to pick him/herself up and ultimately win the war. It’s no different with your customers- they want to be part of the battle too, because they have similar stories of being knocked down and are looking for help, camaraderie and connection. As Harrison Monarth summed up in a Harvard Business Review commentary, “Data can persuade people, but it doesn’t inspire them to act; to do that, you need to wrap your vision in a story that fires the imagination and stirs the soul.” Storytelling serves as an emotional and lasting bridge to your customer. Your consumers want to hear (or see) the tale and follow the storyline that highlights the issues and explains your tribulations and ultimate triumph.
As you are having a cold beverage watching the ball game, ask:
Is my brand story engaging and does it help build a connection? Can a well-crafted storytelling piece replace a graph or “About Us” link? Can my customers find the story easily on my website or YouTube?
There is still plenty of summer left – lots of BBQs, pool parties, camping trips to be had. But take the time during the summer slow down (if such a thing actually exists) to take a look at your business development and sales process—especially as it relates to your website and the content that you are outwardly showing to your customers and partners. Unlike business a decade or so ago, where you had control of the sales process, your customers and potentials prospects now have access 24/7 to you, your products and your message. Make sure that when they do find you, you turn that lead into a sale and, equally important, a customer who keeps coming back!