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What are the Key Differentiators between Sales People and Business Development Professionals? #TotallyTrendyTuesday

Lindsey Rainwater

As the role of the salesperson continues to lose relevance to today's buyer based on how people are purchasing, how does a salesperson evolve into what is more relevant? If evolving into a business development professional is the route to take, what is the first step?  Let’s begin by defining some key character traits of business development professionals and how they may be differentiate their message. 

Business Development Professionals Solve Problems
Leave the product talk at the door.  Gone are the days where what you are selling is the focus of your meetings.  WHY you are there is a far greater focus. Best selling author and speaker Simon Sinek has a wonderful TED talk called “Start with Why.” Click here to watch it.  He talks about how people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.  It is critical then that you know WHY you are going to visit the prospect you have a meeting with; is it because of your product? Then you might want to rethink your approach. 

Business Development Professionals Are Industry Experts
When you have a relationship and a rapport, you become a resource.  The other day I was looking for a new shampoo and conditioner. What was the first thing I did? I texted the girl that does my hair and asked her what her favorite product was.  We trust the people we have relationships with and we ask their opinion.  As a Business Development professional, you might sell treadmills and equipment, but you will more than likely be asked questions about flooring, lockers, front desk technology, you name it! Once you have a relationship, you will become a resource. When you focus on selling instead of consulting, often these items are overlooked and the opportunity to support the whole picture gets lost. 

Business Development Professionals will Walk away
One of the biggest mistakes I see salespeople make is thinking everyone has potential to be their customer.   It is so very important to know your customer, and realize that there will be plenty of people that will not be your customer.  The hardest part is knowing when to stop and walk away.  The fact is that if someone is a difficult prospect and difficult to work with pre-sale, imagine the headache they will create for your company once they are on-boarded. These types of sales end up costing your company more money long term. Short term, you might have made your commission, but long term it is not worth it for everyone involved. 

In today’s business climate solving problems, being an expert in your industry, and knowing who is the right fit for your product are fundamental necessities to long term success.  The leaders in Business Development will be known for developing long term relationships based on being helpful and being an asset.  Organizations that see the potential to evolve their sales roles will succeed long term. Those that do not? It will only be a matter of time before the old tactics will yield no results. This is by no means a comprehensive list of character traits, but certainly a good starting place.

Are you or your organization attempting to pivot from sales to business development? I would enjoy talking with you about your experience.  Connect with me here and let’s talk! 


Lindsey Rainwater, also known as Lindsey RainH2O, is a sought-after business consultant, leadership coach, writer and presenter to the fitness and wellness industry. For more information about Rainwater, follow her on Twitter @LindseyRainH2O