Most of us who have spent any time in sales have heard of the Sales Lifecycle. It is often represented by a circle, as the lifecycle really never ends but continues over and over with our clients throughout the relationship. Each step is important in itself but the combination of the lifecycle as a whole is a pathway to sales success. In this series, I will address each step individually so we can dive deeper.
As you begin exploring the Sales Lifecycle, take the time complete the vital step known as Pre-Work. Ask yourself the following questions to ensure you are sufficiently prepared to pursue business development:
- What makes my product/service unique to its market? Discovering what differentiates your product/service will help you design your value proposition.
- Do I know my competition? Understanding your competitors and their product/service is essential in understanding how you can provide leading solutions to your clients. When was the last time you created a SWOT analysis of your competitors? This should be done at least annually.
- Speaking of Clients…do you truly understand your ideal Client? Not all buyers are a good fit. Finding those that have the right need, cannot fulfill that need in-house, and are ready to make a change is key to creating a trusted partnership.
Ultimately, these questions all ladder up to one essential question: Do I understand my product/service?
Once you have completed these questions, it’s time to put your answers to good use in Pre-Discovery. This step is geared toward using your completed pre-work pinpointing your target client and product uniqueness to identify and build a list of potential clients. When you have completed the Pre-Discovery phase, this list will be used to develop your sales funnel.
Step 1: Building your list
There are several areas where you can engage to build your database:
- Collaborating with your marketing team/marketing data to find who has already been signaling buying intent by spending time on your website or engaging with you through your communication (email, newsletters, etc.)
- Build a lead list in online databases such as LinkedIn or organizational associations
- Set up Boolean searches on google targeted to specific keywords and phrases
Step 2: Refine your list
Using what you developed in Step 1, narrow your target list by researching these organizations. You want to ensure they fit your client profile AND spend the time to better understand their business. (This will be key when we move to the next phase of the cycle – The Connection!) Potential areas to spend time in research:
- Websites: Take time to read “About Us” sections, company leadership/backgrounds, Awards/PR, as well any blogs or direct communication
- News: In addition to Google news feed, check out industry association/trade group sites
At this stage, you are just trying to get a better understanding of the organization so you can judge if your first instincts on client potential are correct and so you can speak intelligently in subsequent phases of the lifecycle. After all, who does not like to hear about themselves from others from time to time?
In the next post, I will talk about The Connection – lovingly referred to as “Cold Calling”…everyone’s favorite part of Sales. Trust me, it is not as bad as everyone thinks if done right.