One of the most common moves I see a startup do is hire a business development person too early. Yes, there is pressure from early investors (and your spouses) to start making money. However, investing too early will be wasted money because your hotshot business development hire won’t have the right tools to succeed. Read on to learn what you need to figure out and create before making that critical hire or to evaluate whether or not you have the right tools for your existing team.

Thing 1: A target market and ideal buyer

BowlingAlleyIf you want to hire the right business development person, first you need to determine who your ideal buyer is or your “head pin” if you follow Geoffrey Moore. Naysayers may be thinking, “Well I need a business development person to start selling so we can figure that out!” The truth is, you just need to do some research and ask a lot of questions.

While the entire world may one day want to buy your product, you need to start with a definable market. Typically this is a single industry or a particular size company across multiple verticals. Select the target market that has the most pain that you solve, the most budget and is a first mover. Fundamentally, they should be companies that are most likely to buy what you have.

If you’re not sure where to start to make this decision, start talking to potential customers. Speak with influencers in the various industries. Ask a lot of questions until you start to get clarity.

See a sample target market/ideal buyer analysis

Narrowing down your addressable market in this way allows you to define messaging specific to that buyer and to hire a business development representative who has experience (and hopefully contacts) in that market.

Thing 2: A compelling reason to buy

Before your new hire goes out and starts talking with target buyers, they need to be crystal clear on your positioning. Specifically, the reasons that target buyers have to purchase your product.

To hone in on this messaging, do some research to determine:

  • What are the trends happening in your target market causing a need for your solution?
  • What is costing money and needs to be stopped?
  • What 3rd party sources can validate the existence of the problem?
  • Who at your ideal buyer is impacted by the problem? (rank by how high the impact and frequency)

From this exercise, you can begin to see a story forming that takes your target buyer from a place of uncertainty and pain to one of security and success. Get your story down on paper and make sure your business development folks can tell it.

See sample compelling reason to buy

Thing 3: Sales tools to educate prospects

Before a target customer can be called an opportunity, they need to be convinced of three things:

  • That they have a problem
  • That your solution can solve that problem
  • That your solution is a fit for their business

Talking alone won’t easily convince your prospects. Business development needs to be armed with tools that prospects can use to self-educate and answer the above questions.

The critical tools to create are:

  • Video describing the problem/solution – this is a great asset for your website, but also to send in prospecting emails for people to relate to. This video should be loaded with 3rd party statistics and quotes validating the problem exists and is getting worse.
  • Sales presentation/demo – prospects need proof that your solution will actually solve the problem and do so without causing additional problems.
  • Fit assessment – this can be as simple as a 10 question quiz with multiple choice that helps companies determine if your solution is right for them. Ask qualifying questions (from their point of view of what is important) and you’ll get great info plus they will be satisfied that it is worth the time to move forward.

Thing 4: Sales tools to drive the sale

Once you have an opportunity that you are working through the sales cycle, they now need to be convinced of the following:

  • That your solution will work for them
  • That your solution will make their life easier
  • That your solution will provide a solid ROI

In order for them to be convinced that this is a great purchase, you need to address their worries and the potential for things to get in the way of the value your product can deliver. Things like long implementations and difficult process changes are the nightmares they are having.

To combat these worries and sometimes very real obstacles, create an assessment tool. A customized assessment is a great step in the sales process that creates an activity and a result to progress the opportunity forward. Assessments can be ways to start collecting information needed for quotation or implementation, but for the prospect, they should put their mind at ease.

To determine the most important assessment(s) to create, consider the following questions:

  • What does a buyer need to overcome to purchase your solution?
  • What does a buyer need to overcome to implement your solution?
  • What does a buyer need to overcome to get value from your solution?

The outcome of the assessment should be the value they will get when they purchase and use your product and a clear list of what they need to do in order to realize that value.

In addition to a great assessment tool, you’ll also benefit from a way for the prospect to trial your product and some great customer references to backup your claims. If you don’t yet have customers ready to give testimonials, check out the article “How to get references when you don’t have customers” for some great ideas.

Once you have these 4 critical things, your investment in business development has a high probability for success!