By Chris Rogers, Vice President & General Manager – Carolinas
In life and in business, relationships are key: The ones we have; the ones we want; and the ones we continue to cultivate.
With over 10 years in business development and sales, I’ve learned a few things about what can make or break the deal.
Here are 7 tips that will reinforce your professional pursuits and help grow your company.
#1 Find the Right One.
It’s not about just anyone. It’s about the right one. Sometimes, sales teams focus on securing any deal and forget to vet potential customers. This can lead to rocky relationships from the start.
Finding the right client is just as important as being the right client.
The wrong work with the wrong people, the wrong people with the right work, or even the right people with the wrong work can cause less productivity and risk your company’s reputation.
Always seek to secure the right work with the right people.
- Does their business model fit with our business model?
- Are they doing the type of work that would reflect well on our company?
- Can we provide services for this company in a way that correlates with our workflow and core values?
If the answers to any of these questions are no, then perhaps it’s best to seek a business partnership elsewhere. It may be difficult to pass up the opportunity, but in the long run your business and company will be better because of it.
#2 Build Trust.
As with every relationship, trust comes first. It doesn’t matter how good our products are or how much they like me, if a customer can’t trust me, we’re dead in the water. It takes time to build trust so pace yourself knowing the outcome is worth it.
For Metromont, many of our construction projects take at least a year to a few years before finalizing a formal agreement. That’s me, boots on the ground, working and saying, “I’m here, I’m your man,” for over a year before we come to a contract.
We primarily work with general contractors, but also have great relationships with owners and architects. Knowing the ins and outs of our precast, prestressed concrete business also builds trust.
This allows us to be their go-to person with engineering or architectural design issues, code questions, or to just bounce around ideas.
Our clients trust that our business development team knows how to design and manufacture what they need for their job. They also know we are people who honor our word and follow through for the benefit of the client. They trust us.
Be that person for your clients in your industry as well.
#3 Be an Excellent Listener.
As I’ve said, often business development has a long lead time. Invest your time in listening to what the client needs and what they are trying to achieve.
Then help them figure out how your company can help them hit their goals most economically, creatively, and functionally.
At Metromont, we don’t view ourselves as salespeople. Instead, we take on the role of precast consultants. As we listen to our clients and share our insights, we become viewed as experts in our field. This means that we are responsible for advocating for our client when we return to the office. By listening well, we become our client’s internal voice at Metromont.
Listen well to what your customers want and need, advocate for them at your office, and help them achieve their goals.
#4 Be a Problem Solver.
Everything starts with a problem. For example, we do a great deal of work designing and constructing parking decks. The client’s problem: someone needs parking.
Determine how your company can be a part of their solution.
For us, we start with discovering and sharing how precast, prestressed concrete construction can be the best solution for building their parking garage. This continues building trust as we convey our message about the resiliency, safety, and cost-effectiveness of our products, as well as Metromont’s forward-thinking business practices.
Know the problem the client is wanting to solve and communicate how you can solve their problem with the unique values that only your company can offer.
#5 Make Communications Meaningful.
Due to the complexity of design and innovation in precast, prestressed concrete, our business development team is tasked with taking our business and blending it with manufacturing and construction in a way that is understandable and relatable to others.
Be the person who knows industry trends, the newest innovations in your industry, and provides clear communications that declares the exceptional value in your products in a way that makes sense to your client.
Be mindful of your emotional intelligence as well.
You’re going to get some very pointed questions. Can you handle those without getting riled up? Are you prepared for high-pressure situations and still able to make good decisions for your company?
By understanding some of the politics surrounding your industry and knowing your emotional strengths and weaknesses, you’ll provide more meaningful communications that will result in better partnerships.
#6 Be Respectful.
Respect their time. Follow up and follow through are paramount.
Too often sales guys do a bunch of footwork getting in the door and securing that meeting, but once it’s over … they disappear.
Following up and expressing your appreciation of their time is equally as important as the meeting itself.
Be available when they reach out to you again and again. Following through is never optional. If you say you’re going to do something … do it. And do it in a timely manner.
A lot of our business comes from recurring customers. This follow through element maintains the trust we’ve established that attracts our customers to keep coming back.
When you follow through, you’re telling your customers that they can rely on you for the long-haul.
Respect that this company trusts your company to meet their goals. Consider the signing of that contract like the beginning of the marriage. For it to be successful, you have to keep respecting and growing it.
Show your customer you respect them with regular check ins. Keep up with the project’s progress internally. Be ready to anticipate potential calls. And have a solution on hand when issues arise.
This proves you respect their business, not just the sale.
#7 Bring Added Value to the Relationship.
Help them understand they need to use your company for their project and that the competition can’t help them the way you can. Remove areas that hinder their goals and take care of pieces of the project that relieves time constraints for them.
Metromont is a relationship-oriented business. Our company values are faith, honor, and passion. We strive to impart those values in everything we do.
This means always doing the right thing on behalf of our clients. We believe in being genuine with them and anticipating their needs so that we can offer solutions to future situations.
By giving added value to your customers, you are facilitating not just a successful partnership on this project, but a potential opportunity to have future projects with them as well.
As you continue your business development journey, remember to seek the right clients; listen to their needs; help them achieve their goals; and always establish your business as the leader in adding value to their business.
All the best to you in every relationship.
About Chris Rogers:
Chris Rogers is the vice president and general manager for the Carolinas region at Metromont Corporation. Chris has been adding value to Metromont since 2008, getting his start as a summer intern. After graduating from Furman University in 2009, Chris joined the ranks as a full-time employee. Moving through the company and gaining valuable hands-on experience he worked in the plant, building his career and ultimately earning a position in senior leadership. Chris values hard work, integrity and personal drive.