The buyers of professional services have a formidable advantage: an extremely sophisticated power of choice.
A growing number of buyers are digital natives. They leverage the Internet and social media—in addition to their personal networks—to evaluate service providers. Many firms and business development professionals have discovered the remedy is not offering a better, cheaper, or faster solution (in fact, that’s an impossible feat). Sellers must have a strong brand, differentiate themselves, and ensure they are reaching their target audiences. Because buyer’s really do have the advantage, the creation of the right narrative is vital.
In addition to the acquisition of new business for the firm, individuals in business development roles are responsible for maintaining deep understanding of the industries and needs of their clients—in between networking events, prospect meetings, and your ongoing research. If you are in a business development role, how can you ensure your preparations are not in vain?
The answer is simple: look to your marketing colleagues.
BD & Marketing: A Complementary Partnership
Business developers are not alone in the quest for a larger client base. While firms are more inclined to recognize business development roles and their impact on firm growth and revenue, marketers play just as significant a role. The end-goal is the same (more business and greater relevancy), but the approach is slightly different:
- Business development roles and responsibilities: Forming partnerships, strategic relationships and other professional contacts in target markets in order to acquire new clients.
- Marketing roles and responsibilities: Understanding the needs and wants of the target market and developing a strategic plan to establish a firm’s overall messaging, benefits, and capabilities, and communicating these elements to the target audiences.
In no way are these descriptions all-encompassing. Indeed, responsibilities and functions are as varied as the individuals in the roles. It’s also important to note that there are situations where a single individual may be required to play both marketing and business development roles. While this may be convenient from a hiring perspective, it’s difficult to execute both aspects well.
Marketers help business development balance out traditional offline pre-sale efforts with online initiatives that expand reach and increase impact.
Marketers can recommend to those in business development roles the tactics and approaches proven to make the most of the relationships so important within the professional services industry. The ultimate goal is to maximize results—without adding more effort.
How Marketing Can Help You in Your Business Development Role
1) Provide data that helps you work smarter, not harder. Marketers know that the secret to overall success is research. Why? Because research reveals perception gaps between what your firm believes (of itself and its impact on its targets) and what external audiences (clients, prospects, influencers and “got-aways,” etc.) really think about you. Research is a critical element and foundation for positioning of your firm and any and all messaging featured on your website, in your collateral, and your ongoing conversations.
2) Ensure messages hit their mark (and arrive in the proper vehicles). As I mentioned earlier, it’s the responsibility of your marketing department to understand the needs and wants of your target audience. Oftentimes this is done through formal research and supported by ongoing monitoring of industry communications, social media commentary, and other elements. Marketers can provide feedback on talking points and provide you with the most current and relevant data to support your particular goals. They can also ensure you have the right collateral to effectively convey these targeted messages. Content marketing is as effective as ever.
3) Help identify and assess opportunities. As marketers monitor the marketplace and respond to daily requests for information, they inevitably become a wellspring of information on your firm (and clients). Therefore they can provide insights that you may have overlooked or have not considered.
4) Prep you for key pitches and meetings. Marketers want you to be as successful as possible in your business development outreach. And while you may be an expert at assessing the marketplace, you may feel less comfortable when it comes to certain presentations or roundtable discussions. Marketers can support your in this business development role with coaching and feedback—as well as a great pitch deck.
5) Develop campaigns that guide prospects through the business development funnel. Marketing and business development are indeed two sides of revenue-generating coin. Business development tends to be an offline endeavor (hands on relationship building), it would amount to more than a full time job if you couldn’t eliminate the leads that will go no where.
Marketers can develop campaigns that help prospects self-select and draw them through the funnel until they are ready to talk to someone in a business development role. This includes everything from creation of regular content (blog posts and articles) for the top of the funnel through the use of premium content (downloadable guides behind a registration form) and offers for consultation. Once a prospect reaches the bottom of the funnel, you know that they are educated and more likely to make the decision to buy.
6) Help position you as a Visible Expert®. For a buyer to commit to the sale, they must be confident that your firm can solve their problem and that you will always keep their best interests at heart. You’ll often hear business development and technical professionals proclaim themselves as a “trusted” advisor or resource for clients. The best way to do this is to ensure you are recognized as an expert in your field.A firm with a prominent brand and high visibility among its target audiences reflects well on the individuals who work there. The same is true in reverse: Visible Experts within a firm enhance their firm’s overall brand. Establishing yourself as an expert affects not only reputation, but also the comfort level that a buyer will have with you. Research shows that when your reputation and expertise is well known, you’ll have less work to do to convince buyers of your worthiness.
Marketing can do a lot to help, but they’re under great pressure as well. Be their advocate and get them what they need to provide you what you need. Giving marketing the right tools is a win-win for everyone.
Your business development role should never feel like a Sisyphean effort, nor should it be done in a vacuum. Reach out to your marketing colleagues for support. It will help you rise above the competition—and bring in that business.
- Find out more on becoming a sought-after expert in your industry by downloading a free copy of The Visible Expert® book.
- Get a copy of our free Marketing Planning Guide to develop a strategy that generates more leads for your firm by building its visibility and reputation in the marketplace.
How Hinge Can Help
Hinge helps firms grow through a variety of programs and services that benefit business developers and marketers alike. Let’s talk about how we can help you achieve your goals.