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Building business development skills starts with an understanding of the challenges these unique members of your sales force face to identify the skills they need to thrive in a high-pressure sales environment.

A training program for business development professionals should develop skills that empower BDRs to be agile and float between different steps in the sales cycle.  This requires strong consultative skills and a dynamic sales methodology.

Understanding the Sales Challenges of BDRs

The treadmill never stops for a business development representative. They must constantly move forward to seek new business. All too often a contact goes dark, remains inert, or simply says “no.” With so much rejection, BDRs often turn to volume as an answer. Sow more seeds, and there will be more to harvest. However, business development professionals cannot succeed on volume alone.

More customer conversations will not move the needle unless your organization’s business development training program teaches a framework that empowers them to distill value from each customer interaction.

The challenge of developing effective business development skills is finding a training program that supports your team’s ability to attain a balance between the rapid-fire style of inside sales with dialogue that connects with the customer.

Building the skills that make it possible for BDRs to make a deep connection with clients and prospects is a crucial step lacking in most training programs. Making finding the right program that emphasizes a consultative approach and offers a scalable framework for understanding customer needs creates a competitive advantage.

Building Business Development Skills

Technology has made it possible for business development professionals to reach more contacts in less time via phone and video. Therefore, a training program with a heavy emphasis on building consultative telephone selling skills is likely to be most effective. Including Consultative Telephone Selling works because it places the focus where it belongs:  on the customer’s challenges.

Maintaining this focus means asking questions that uncover base needs. However, effective consultative sellers are aware of how questions can exhaust the customer. Therefore, they balance these questions with insights. With the right preparation, a sales professional can both earn the right to ask questions and add to their credibility by researching and sharing industry-relevant findings. Additionally, having these industry insights before the call means that the BDR can move directly to deeper questions and waste less time on “getting up to speed.”

The BDR needs the detail within the customer’s responses to properly position a solution later in the dialogue. Once they do so, they can ensure that they’re on the right path by seeking feedback. Feedback is a gift and understanding its value should be a clear objective in any type of training for business development reps. Strong consultative sellers understand that when a customer offers feedback, they’re revealing clues to the sale. They’re telling the BDR “don’t go that way, go this way.” BDRs should follow their lead. Business development professionals must take the initiative to request feedback even when the customer is silent. The value of knowing what the customer thinks of the ideas and solutions discussed is too important to ignore. Keeping questions open-ended allows the customer to broadly explore what works and what doesn’t. Moreover, open-ended questions avoid giving the customer the sense that the sales professional is attempting to elicit specific responses.

Taking full advantage of feedback means practicing active listening. This is integral to training in business development because it offers insight into how the customer sees the problem. Business development representatives must pay attention to the customer’s inflection, tone, and word choice to gather as much information as possible. These additional details help clarify needs — and might even create opportunities to expand the scope of the sale by solving previously unseen needs.

The primary goal of a training program designed to improve your business development representative’s skills should be to train them to make connections with buyers quickly to start building immediate momentum.

Essential components of an effective business development skill-building program include:

    • Training to build skills that teach the professional how to prepare for outbound calls in a systematic and efficient manner.
    • Training that fosters the ability to connect with customers on inbound and outbound sales calls in order to increase the customer’s likelihood to engage in a meaningful dialogue
    • Training that empowers the sales professional to understand customer objectives, challenges, and needs to fully understand the issue and concerns driving their decision-making process
    • Training to teach sales professionals to leverage the company’s full offering of products and services to position a solution customized to each customer’s business objectives.
    • Training that helps the professional understand how to add value to customers by identifying and pursuing cross-selling opportunities
    • Training to build skills that enable the professionals to resolve objections that may impede a successful opportunity
    • Training that teaches sales professionals to Inspire action from customers in order to close the business or advance the sale

Building a Complete Sales Training Curriculum for Business Development Teams

Ideally, a business development training program is based on the premise that skill-building is an ongoing process rather than a one-time event.

A foundational program focused on building consultative telephone selling skills is further enhanced by building out a complete curriculum for your team.  An example of a full business development training curriculum might be:

An ongoing focus on skill development and consultative approach to sales offers BDRs the resources to convert volume into value and unlock the power of this critical sales role.

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