Every business needs to make sales. From responding to leads to actively selling, you must ensure you have the right person in place to secure those essential business wins. LGBA’s international business development expert Lesley Rubenstein outlines the top traits you should look for when hiring for this crucial business role.
Trait One – Outgoing Personality – on and off the phone.
Having an outgoing personality is probably the no. 1 trait required to be a great business developer. No shrinking violets need apply! Why? Think about it! You will need to contact businesses you may never have been in contact with before, either on behalf of your own company, or someone else’s.
You have very little time to convince that business to spend time with you to determine why they should do business with you. Basically, you need to excel at sales pitches – but what are you selling? This is a bit different from selling a product per se – it’s more about why the business you are contacting should form a partnership with your business. It’s almost like getting married – the ‘fit’ needs to be on many levels.
Trait Two – Investigative Researcher – finding decision-makers
If there is one thing I absolutely abhor during my workday, it is being interrupted by a phone call where the caller asks to speak with ‘the person who deals with…’. Do your homework! With the Internet at your fingertips, there is no excuse for not knowing who to talk to. There will be times where this is easy – for example, when the company’s ‘About Us’ page has information on the key team leaders.
But what if the information isn’t there? Well, you could be lazy and make a call similar to the one described above, or you could do some detective work. It’s actually easier than you might think! Companies House, for example, will show a list of company directors. Linkedin is another great source of information on the ‘Who’s Who’ of companies. Need to dig a bit deeper? Read news items on the company’s news page or in Google – you’ll soon start to form a picture of who you should be speaking with.
Trait Three – Active Listener
We probably all think that we are great listeners but I would argue that over 90% of us need to work on our listening skills. We are so eager to talk ‘at’ people rather than having an actual two-way conversation. Getting our conversational counterpart to open up and discuss their pain points is key to any sales pitch of whatever kind.
If we did more of that, we might be able to figure out how the partnership would work. What problems do we solve by connecting with the potential partner company? You may find that you thought the partnership would work for one reason, but with your super listening skills, you soon discover that you actually solve other issues for them and the fit is even better than you thought!
Trait Four – Tenacity
So many of us are rubbish at following up. We send an email and think ‘job done’ – they’ll get back to us in good time. But what if they have a bereavement / holiday / sick dog / etc.? You don’t know what is going on in other people’s lives or how pressured they are at work. You don’t know how many emails flood their inbox every day and your email is soon out of view, lost in the avalanche.
Out of sight can often mean out of mind. Gently follow-up without harassing your potential partner. If you’re following up by email, make a note in your CRM as to when to expect a reply and if it doesn’t arrive, call them. When they answer the phone, listen to the levels of stress in their voice and check if now is a good time to follow-up. But don’t never give up, as the Americans tend to say!
Trait Five – Visionary
Our role is to help our company (or other companies) to grow. The more creative we are, within the company strategy, the more we will succeed and make our role exceedingly exciting. The thrill of doing deals and creating long-term relationships is addictive.
Partnerships can be obvious within the sector, but sometimes partners outside of our sector, with similar issues, can also benefit from working with us. Partners can be complementary to what we are doing, even if there is slight overlap in other areas. Don’t be afraid to break boundaries – they’re artificial anyway.
To Sum Up
I’m sure there are additional key traits that a business development person would benefit from, where I have attempted to list the one’s I believe are imperative. Do let us know which ones you believe are important.
If this is of interest to your business, why not speak to Lesley Anne Rubenstein-Pessok on 020 8868 3163 or email her at Lesley.firstname.lastname@example.org
About the Author
Lesley is a highly experienced international business developer, executive coach, mentor, advisor, consultant and business transformation specialist with over 30 years’ experience working with a whole cross section of corporates, SMEs, scale-ups to start-ups, mostly in the technology sectors.