Maybe you’re not sure where to start with new business, sales and marketing – or are worried about getting it wrong.
Maybe you’ve tried a few things, but don’t know if they’re working, so you’re not feeling confident about the next steps.
As a business development consultant, I feel most confident about the quality of my advice when I can clearly see where a client has taken a wrong turn or missed out a key step.
Because I’ve made a lot of those same mistakes in my time, so I recognise them.
This article aims to help prevent others doing the same!
My best, and worst, new business mistakes – to help you avoid them
And to be clear, by mistakes I also mean….. wrong turns, catastrophes, inaccuracies, miscalculations, errors, oversights, failures, slip-ups, omissions, fiascos, flops and blunders.
- Buying data at all / buying the wrong data
When the right thing to do was grow it organically or buy a much more tightly defined chunk of data.
This was before LinkedIn and very early in my new business career, when I knew virtually nothing about sales.
- Taking too long to plan a marketing campaign in order to get it ‘perfect’
The learning curve that comes with most small businesses’ first marketing campaigns is huge.
So often the best thing to do – for a better overall result – is to tuck in and get something reasonable out, learn from it, and do it better next time.
A balance of thinking and action is reasonable – don’t do shoddy marketing just because it’s quick – but worrying about being perfect can really slow you down.
- Letting the wrong people into the sales process at the wrong time
This is a really tricky one, because it involves personalities.
The best person to do sales in your business is not necessarily the most senior one; nor the boss (whatever they think); nor a director (however experienced); nor the one most experienced at sales (ironically).
Which leads on to…
- Realising you’renot always the right person
The best person to do sales often depends on the stage the client is at in the buying process, and the personality of that client.
And it might not be you – at that particular moment.
And because different people in your firm can get different responses from a prospect – make sure that whoever is actually RESPONSIBLE for new business gets to choose who the client sees, when.
Because whoever’s responsible will try and make the best possible judgment based on everything they know about that prospect.
- Not measuring anything enough
I never even thought about how to measure my early marketing efforts, although I quickly became good at measuring and analysing our sales pipeline.
Knowing where your sales come from – and why – is crucial to repeating successes and avoiding failures.
Do the same with your marketing – it’s SO much easier now that so much is online. It could be as simple as asking every enquiry how they heard about you or using a promotional code in printed advertising.
- Not having enough belief in my own writing
In the agency I worked in, we used professional copywriters to write copy for clients. So I believed only copywriters did that writing thing.
It’s only recently I found my own voice, and been confident enough to use it.
I now help some of my clients – especially those in smaller firms where the voice of the founder reflects the sentiment of the brand – find the confidence to use their own voices.
- Outsourcing telemarketing without understanding it
This was an outright failure – done before I even realised how much there was to learn about new business.
Either actually do it yourself first (seriously), or learn a lot more abut telemarketing before you pay someone else.
Or you’ll end up with lots of meetings where you just have a coffee, or they can’t remember why you’re there – or they don’t even turn up (true story).
- Not being brave enough to create a truly niche positioning
Persuading directors or management that your approach is a good one can be a big part of the business development role.
I didn’t have the authority or the experience at the time to persuade my boss that focusing on a particular niche was the right way to go. In my heart of hearts, I knew it was – but I couldn’t get that message across.
I really wish I’d tried harder. You can.
Read more on positioning – and why your marketing efforts can fail if you get it wrong.
I’m Kim Mason, a Business Development Consultant based in Hampshire. If you’ve enjoyed this article – please head over to www.allthingsnewbiz.co.uk to find other resources, or to learn more about me.