These are 3 challenges faced by business developers in their first experience. And some tips to survive them and speed up your learning curve.
Do you remember your first days in business development? Feeling lost and not knowing where to start? I do and I remember how frustrating it was.
I remember that the thing that really put me down was not being able to find any sort of advice. That made me feel lonely, but most importantly, it made me slow.
It was hard to get up to speed when I just didn’t know where to start. So I would like to share a few things learned over the past 10 years to help you speed up your learning curve.
These are 3 of the most common challenges for business developers, that no one talks about. And of course, I’ll give you some tips to overcome them and start being successful!
Challenge 1: I didn’t get enough training and my boss expects me to just do it
On top of the list of challenges faced by business developers, there is definitely this one. And it’s more common than you might think. It doesn’t matter how experienced you are or how big the company is, some bosses will always expect you to know your way around.
This mainly happens because managers are busy and they tend to assume that the information they provide is enough. I’ve been on that side.
During my time at HousingAnywhere, I managed 4 different teams. Every six months I would train a brand new team. After the first one, it was very easy for me to give things for granted.
I admit that I even got annoyed when someone would ask me questions I considered basic. Until I realized that if I would actually spend the right amount of time teaching my team, things would have been just easier.
It’s difficult sometimes for managers to remember their first days and it’s easy to have a demotivated team.
What’s important to understand is that for any new job you take, there is always a specific learning curve. You have to go through it and you need to learn how the company works.
No matter how good you are, you just need time to learn. And this shouldn’t be a reason to get frustrated or demotivated.
Actually, the first step you have to take when you start as a business developer is:
Don’t feel bad about not knowing stuff! It’s normal!
However, after acknowledging your lack of experience you have to start asking questions. Ask your manager to dedicate you more time if you don’t know what to do. If your manager is too busy – which will most likely happen – then ask your colleagues.
Besides, make sure to read every single piece of information that is available in the company materials. I mean, every single one: competitor analysis, company culture, company policies, email templates, literally…everything.
Now, sometimes companies lack documentation so if your colleagues are not able to help, go online and start asking questions to Google. Do it exactly in the same way you would ask your colleagues.
Consider taking training and courses. Learning always pays off and sets you apart from your peers. You will develop a deeper knowledge of your role and a better way to do it and be successful. Ask if your company offers training budgets and if so, take advantage of it to build your professional skill set.
If not, look for information online. There is a huge amount of free content out there. But pick your sources carefully, as it’s very easy to get caught in useless stuff.
Last, connect with people in the same field as yours and just ask for help! This is a piece of advice I give from the heart: if I could go 10 years back I would start sooner connecting with others in my field.
People are happy to help and the amount of knowledgeable people out there is so huge, that it’s a shame not taking advantage of it.
You might want to read: 4 Misconceptions about Business Development.
Challenge 2: I got a list of leads, but how do I tackle it?
Fair point. Having leads is not enough if you don’t have a clue about what to do with them. Should you call them? Should you email them? And if so? How?
This is my checklist every time I start working for a new company.
First, go through the CRM and check some of your current clients. Familiarize with them and answer questions like: How did they become clients or partners? What’s their spent? How long did it take to acquire them? What’s the structure of a specific partnership? If you don’t have a CRM ask your older colleagues.
Then get to know your market research. In this case, you should ask yourself: what’s the industry I’m operating in? What are the major players? Who are my competitors? How many companies can I potentially reach? You can get all this information by simply making research on Google, Linkedin, and any other online source.
The most important step then is to know your audience. This is the part I like the most because it really helps you understand who you’re talking to. But how do you do it? If your company did its homework you will already have this info somewhere.
If not, check your customer base and start observing them. You will find a lot of valuable information just by checking some LinkedIn profiles. And then you can start finding patterns that will help you understand how to approach them.
The next step is to really master your value propositions. Once you know your audience, you also need to know how to talk to them in the appropriate way. You have to know the inside outs of your product or service and then use the right argument, with the right leads.
Probably your company already has value propositions in place. Learn them by heart and internalize them. In this way, your conversations will become natural and you’ll get the interest of your leads.
Read also: The Business Development Guide.
Challenge 3: I really don’t know how to approach my leads
The last of the 3 challenges faced by business developers at their first experience is not knowing how to approach leads.
You probably heard of cold calling or emails or social selling. But there is also networking, partnerships, and a lot more. So how do you go with it?
Once again, learn by heart the processes that are already in place. If cold calling is what your manager asks you to do, it’s because it’s probably the most effective way to reach out to them.
However, keep your mind curious and critical. Start experimenting on your own trying different things. If you know that your target audience is attending a conference, propose your manager to go. In the same way, if you realize that actually your leads prefer emails over the phone, start using them in your outreach.
I personally prefer to use a multimedia approach: calls, emails, social media, and personal meetings. Because in this way I can maximize the effort and I can continuously try to improve my stats.
Try everything and for each channel calculate your conversion rate from lead to opportunity. Trial and error is the daily bread of business development. So just be patient, be mentally ready for some rejections, and start doing.
To make it easier for you to navigate business development, we created The BD School:
The first platform is entirely dedicated to business development.
Our mission is to help ambitious BD pros and companies acquire the skills they need to be successful in their job.
If you’re looking for a complete course to help you advance your career, check out our Business Development Course.
And if you manage a business development team and need help making them more effective, visit our tailored business development training.