Based upon my experiences in B2B over the past 25 years, there are a handful of key principles to keep in mind as you utilize the 7 elements framework for winning new business.  As you work to design (or re-design) a successful business development process at your company, I hope these principles will help guide the way in developing an approach that is both strategically sound and pragmatic.  Here is Part 2 of my 3 part series on Implementing The 7 Elements business development framework.  As a quick review, the 7 Elements framework is my attempt to de-mystify the ‘sales & marketing’ functions for B2B companies and professional services firms.  If you missed my 7 elements white paper or Part 1 of this blog series, you can find them here:

The 7 Elements: A Strategic Framework For Winning New Business in B2B

B2B Business Development: Part 1 – Implementing The 7 Elements


Part 2: Key Principles for Implementing the 7 Elements Framework

  1. Begin With a Clear Marketing Strategy

Every successful B2B company begins with a clear marketing strategy.  Your marketing strategy needs to address three key things:  1) ‘what you do best’, 2) ‘who you serve’, and 3) ‘how you are unique’.  Getting the strategy right has the benefit of having everyone on your team pulling in the same direction.  If you’re not sure if you have a clear marketing strategy, independently ask every marketing and sales person on your team these 3 questions.  If you don’t get consistent answers on these items, you know you’re not reaching your growth potential.

  1. Have A Clear, Concise Marketing Message

Your marketing message has to be easily understood.  And, it has to be concise.  The people you wish to do business with are quite busy.  And, there is lots of marketing noise.  To break through the noise you have to focus on getting the message right. It’s all too common – even with a Fortune 500 advertising budget – that the marketing message is confusing.   Is it clear who you wish to serve?  Do you clearly articulate what solution or benefit you provide?  Is it clear how you are different than alternative solutions?  Before you invest any further resources toward marketing and sales, first ensure that you have a clear and concise marketing message.

  1. Focus on the Process, Not the Outcome

I know this may sound wrong, or at least counterintuitive.  Yet, the most successful B2B companies that I know are not hyper-focused on the ‘sales’ outcome.  It’s not they don’t care about sales, but rather that they are first focused on building a successful process.  Think about your favorite sports team.  Do they consistently win?  The most successful teams have coaches that focus on creating a winning process.  The focus is on getting the right people on board, practicing in a very specific way, and creating an attitude of winning.  Losing teams may talk about ‘winning’, but they typically don’t have a process that gets them there.  When a team focuses on a winning process, the winning will take care of itself.  Winning is the result of the process.  It works the same way in business development.  Build the process.  Work the process.  Trust the process.

  1. Tie Everything You Do To One Of The 7 Elements

When designing your business development process, each activity should clearly tie to one of the seven elements.  Again, here are the 7 elements:

The 7 Elements

1. Build Awareness: I am familiar with your company

2. Develop Understanding: I understand what your company does, and how it is are unique

3. Create Interest: I sense that what your organization offers is credible, relevant and potentially of value to me

4. Inspire Belief: I believe that your unique offering is our optimal solution

5. Earn Trust: I trust that you are honest and dependable. I believe you have my best interests at heart, and I feel comfortable working with you

6. Determine Ability: I have the funds and organizational support needed to buy from you

7. Gauge Readiness: The timing is right and is now a priority for us to do business together

Do your marketing and sales activities build awareness of your company?  Or develop understanding in what you do and how you are unique? Does it create interest by communicating your credibility, relevance and value? Or inspire belief? Does it help you earn trust?  Each single step in your business development process should address one of the 7 elements.  If a marketing or sales activity doesn’t clearly tie to one of these seven, then stop long enough to carefully think through ‘why you are doing it’.

  1. Be Professional In Everything You Do That Touches The Customer

Marketing and sales are about creating an accurate and positive perception of your company in the mind’s of prospective customers.  Do your marketing and sales activities accurately reflect the quality of your work? The tone you set with your brand, your marketing communications, and your salespeople are important parts of establishing your company’s reputation.  It doesn’t happen overnight.  And it doesn’t mean you have to have the largest budget in your industry.  But every little thing that you do that touches prospective customers has to be done in a professional, high-quality way.  Better to not do something at all than to do it poorly.  For example, think about the impression your salespeople make in visiting a customer.  Or the experience a customer has in visiting your facility.  Or your trade show booth.  Or receiving an email or a phone call.  Your business cards. Your website.  Every single customer impression communicates an important message to your prospective customer.

  1. Build Authentic Relationships

As I discussed in my 7 elements white paper, customers buy B2B products and services from those they trust and respect.  Therefore, in B2B it is important to build authentic relationships with those you most wish to serve.  This takes time because we’ve learned that trust cannot be expedited.  When thinking about building genuine relationships with your prospective customers, do your homework on their company, their industry, their customers.  Be knowledgeable.  Be respectful.  Be considerate of people’s time.  Be patient.  Be a valued resource.  Focus on helping solve their thorniest problems, and if you can demonstrate this competence, you’ll always have a seat at their table.  One final point on this, I recommend internally discussing your customer and prospective customer relationships on a regular basis.  Perhaps make this a part of your quarterly sales discussions.  Evaluate the strength of each relationship as it relates to understanding, interest, belief and trust.  If you get the relationships right, the business will follow.

  1. Hang tough. Success Takes Time. Be Patient But Be Persistent.

Business development is a process, not an event.  Design the process, work the process and trust the process.  Be patient.  It takes time, often, a long time.  If the process gets bogged down with a prospective customer, troubleshoot where in the seven elements things are getting stuck.  There are no short-cuts.  It will often be frustrating.  But, it’s the best way.  It’s the only truly sustainable path to winning new business in B2B.

In conclusion, we know that winning new business isn’t easy.  But, we can succeed if we learn the process from the customer’s perspective.  And by following a few suggestions outlined here, we can be more successful in winning new business:

  1. Begin With A Clear Marketing Strategy
  2. Have A Clear, Concise Marketing Message
  3. Focus On The Process, Not The Outcome
  4. Tie Everything You Do To One Of The 7 Elements
  5. Be Professional In Everything You Do That Touches The Customer
  6. Build Authentic Relationships

I hope you find my ideas thought-provoking and helpful.  In Part 3, I’ll discuss the types of customer resistance companies face in implementing the 7 elements.  Stay tuned for more.