In a recent survey conducted it was revealed that 29.4% of Marketers say business development is their number one daily responsibility, the top among any of daily responsibility they have.
If you’d like to see the results of the full survey click the link to download it.
It took a while for me to truly understand what business development meant. Some see it as sales, some see it as a combination of sales and marketing.
At the core business development is really about building relationships with potential clients you wish to do business with, and more importantly continue to do business with long after the first transaction is over.
Content Marketing in itself is pretty much the same thing, what may differ is the approach to how it’s done.
Whereas business development primarily focuses on 1-to-1 interactions with potential clients, Content Marketing is about building relationships with potential clients at scale.
This is why the Content Marketing is an ideal strategy for Business Development Professionals to grow their clientele much quicker and more efficiently, plus stand out among their peers as the go-to person to do business with.
How Content Marketing Allows Business Development Execs to Stand Out
1. The approach is understanding not pitching
Of my close to 10-year career in Sales five of those years were spent in Network Marketing. It’s where I truly developed my skillset as a salesperson, among other invaluable skills such as people skills, communication, public speaking and leadership.
Now I already know that by the mere mention of the term “Network Marketing” you may have cringed a bit, and for good reason. Networking Marketing unfortunately is often seen as a scam and scheme.
Now I’m not going to go into the merits of it, that’s not the point of this post.
The reason why I included it is because of that very same reaction you just had. Unfortunately, Network Marketers are often seen as very pushing salespeople trying to recruit to benefit from others. Therefore, this group is probably the hardest to convince to buy into the concept because they have so many layers and defenses up.
I too had this perception prior to doing it, and also the reason I stayed away from it for so long.
However, once I finally decided to get involved, I already knew there would be many who had the very same mindset I had, so a direct approach would not work.
Therefore, I had to change my approach.
Rather than trying to pitch what I offered, I first sought to understand the needs and point of view of anyone I spoke to. Once I did then I sought to help them understand or better yet educate them on why this company was different and made sense from a business standpoint.
It didn’t matter if they joined or not, bought anything or not, all that mattered was understanding them and helping them understand.
That allowed me to stand out as credible and trustworthy among the crowd.
As a result, even those who chose not to join at the very least were more open to the idea of Network Marketing, some even referred me to others who they thought would have been interested.
How Content Marketing plays into this is by helping you to have the same effect with your potential clients.
Rather than trying to pitch to them to make the sale, it helps you to understand who you’re selling to and also help them understand why you are different than all the other salespeople they have come across.
Through content, you’re educating your audience, helping them gain understanding and information rather than pitching, and by doing so over time they let their guard down, and you start to build trust with them, which brings in more qualified leads, accelerates your closure time, and increases your referrals and sales number.
2. The focus is adding value not selling
As mentioned, every salesperson focuses on selling, how you can stand out as a business development professional is by adding value to your potential clients before selling to them.
How do you do that?
Following up on the previous point, now that you have an understanding of your potential client, use that understanding to inform them of solutions to the challenges they have, even if those solutions don’t ultimately lead to a sale.
It sounds crazy at first, but it’s about standing out from everyone else by building trust. By adding value before the sale.
And believe me it works!
I once met a CEO of a company through LinkedIn.
I wasn’t trying to pitch or sell to them, but that person had seen my content and was curious about what I did and how it could benefit the company.
Rather than trying to pitch my services I audited their website and Social Media, created a 5-page deck with a completely outlined strategy on how they could use Digital Marketing to improve their approach.
In other words, adding value rather than selling.
He was taken aback at first because it’s not something someone offering a service would do, but it allowed me to stand out amongst other vendors who he probably approached. More importantly build trust and confidence with me.
That one act led to them becoming a client of mind, because in his eyes I cared more about helping them, even if it meant not making a sale from it.
As a business development professional, if you start the process of creating content focused on helping and adding value FIRST, it become easier for you to generate more leads and ultimately drive more sales.
I’m not saying everyone will become your client, but most will, simply due to the trust and brand you would have built over time.
How to Generate More Leads and Sales with Content Marketing
Now that you understand how Content Marketing can help you stand out and speed up your sales process to closing more clients, let’s look on some practical steps of how to get this done.
Step 1: Understand your potential client
Every first conversation or interaction should be focused on understanding the needs and perspective of your potential client, not selling. Pay attention to the challenges and questions they have regarding your specific offering.
Reason this is key is because you can’t effectively position your offering unless you know how what you offer can benefit them. However, once you know the challenges they have it makes it easier for you to create a winning positioning statement and pitch in future conversations.
Step 2: Create solutions in the form of content
Create content that answers their questions or helps them solve a problem (even if it means you don’t get the sale).
The content here is more generic to the challenges majority of your target audience would have.
So for example I create content around how Content Marketing can help Marketers, Business Owners, and in this case Business Development Professionals achieve their goals.
This content is general and doesn’t answer a specific challenge, but still addresses the needs of the target audience on a whole.
Step 3: Create your call-to-action or desired audience action
At the end of your content (video, blog post, Social Media post) have a call-to-action that asks individuals who are interested to learn more about your proposed solution to book a free session with you.
This is how you will be able to separate those who simply consume your content from those who are actually qualified leads. Again in this meeting don’t seek to close, the goal is understanding and offering solutions, just at a deeper level.
Step 4: Create specific content for specific leads
For those leads who scheduled meetings with you and are interested, create follow up content specific to those leads that addresses any specific questions or objections they may have had in the meeting.
This is now where you create content that specifically addresses their needs and challenges in-line with your offering; this is a soft sell.
This could be a 3-part email series, a video, pitch deck or any other form of content you can think of. The key here is to ensure that the content is personalized and specific to each individual lead, not generic content they could find anywhere else.
By doing so it shows that you actually took the time to tailor your content for that one person. Personalization makes people feel special and builds rapport and trust faster.
Reiterating the point that this shouldn’t be done for everyone, only those people who you have qualified as a warm or hot lead you can close within a short space of time (typically 30 days).
Step 5: Close the deal
This final step is where you no go in for the sale, the ask, the hard sell. There’s no need to get into this part much, as a biz dev pro I’m sure you’re quite familiar with how to do this.
If after trying to close you find that for one reason or another they are still on the fence, even after addressing all their concerns, questions, and objections, it could simply be a case that they are not ready to move ahead, and that’s okay.
Remember the ultimate goal is building a relationship for long-term profitability, not short-term quick sales.
So what do you do in these cases?
Create a drip approach or campaign (something I learned in Network Marketing). It’s sending content or keeping communication with your potential client over an extended period of time.
The point is not to spend time doing constant follow up which wastes your time and annoys the potential client if they’re not ready. Instead create a follow up template via text or email and send to them once per month or every other month. It should include the successes of other clients you have worked with, and how they have benefited from what you offer.
Don’t pitch to them or try to include a call-to-action. This is simply a “keeping you updated” content.
However, the psychology behind it is that they will see the success of others like them and will create a fear of loss or desire to experience the same feelings of success/relief/freedom your offering elicits.
My Final Thoughts
The way sales is done has changed. The pros who are able to make the mental shift from merely selling to building relationships, and doing so using content through a digital platform will be the winners and top performers.
In order to stand out as the best you have to take an approach of understanding first before pitching what you offer, and adding value before trying to sell.
Once you are able to do that the key to closing the deal is creating a sequence of touch-points or interactions with your potential client that builds trust and positions you as the go-to person that has their best interest at heart.
That’s how you win the long game!
How do you plan to implement Content Marketing into business development to drive more leads and sales? Let me know your thoughts.