In recent weeks, we have highlighted trends likely to impact the executive recruiting and management consulting industries in the year to come. We conclude with a look at one of the most vital functions of any company: business development.
There is every good reason to believe the year to come offers a continuation of some profound ongoing changes in business development trends, tactics and strategies. We see seven that will likely prove profound.
1.) Intensify online branding: The global economy is now entering another consecutive year of a digital macro trend that began manifesting with the development of the Internet but has intensified considerably over the past five years. Online branding, once merely a nice to have component of larger sales and marketing strategies, is now—and will continue to be—one of, if not the, most vital component reaching and selling to potential customers.
2.) Invest in video sales and marketing: Around the world in most industries, patience for information is seemingly as slim as ever—and the use of video as a method for online sales and marketing almost certainly will continue.
Customers are showing a greater inclination to watch than to read, and video allows business development executives the opportunity to also visualize their company’s product or service. Facilitating this trend YouTube and Facebook have begun capturing visual advertizing revenues previously restricted to the television.
3.) Develop subject expertise: Sales and marketing are continuing an evolution away from more hardened sales approaches and embracing an industry leadership marketing strategies. The company that can stand out as possessing industry leading expertise is poised to vastly enhance its brand and market share.
This entails taking conscious steps to establish companies as thought and product leaders in their industry be seizing speaking and writing opportunities on industry topics, expanding media relations efforts focused on projecting this expertise.
4.) Prospect with data: Step one of the direct selling process, especially when it comes to business to business sales, is timely reaching the right executive with the right product or service offering at the right time. Business development executives who obtain and utilize corporate directories, including executive titles and contact information, have a vastly greater opportunity of reaching the appropriate company executive capable of making purchasing decisions.
I have been always amazed how much energy, time and resources are wasted when prospecting without up to date prospect information.
5.) Invest in positive customer experience: Study after study for several years now has revealed that the single greatest influencing purchasing factor for a customer is not what a company says about itself (paid advertising) but what a customer’s friends and peers have to say—and nothing influences that more than earned media and positive customer experiences. According to a 2012 Gallup poll, 92 percent of customers say they are influenced by earned media (public relations and word of mouth recommendations) while less than half, 47 percent, find themselves influenced by a company’s advertising.
Apple, Amazon, Google or Ikea are exceptional examples of continuous innovation in their customer experience.
6.) Adapt to shifting consumers trends: Of course, there are enduring business development trends and many things that have worked in the past show promise of continuing to work. But perhaps the most crucial trend that will continue and accelerate in 2015 is that of strategic sales adaptability. Consumers attitudes, expectations and decision making factors are evolving—and quickly.
7.) Tell your story: The company that can embrace the art of telling its story through these recent and vital channels (social media, video, subject expertise, use of increasingly elaborate sales data, and utilizing public relations creatively) will win the day in an economy that remains turbulent but shows preliminary global indications of improving.