There is a new set of solutions which I have not used, but look promising if you are based in the US. With these solutions salespeople enter their business cards into a common pool, by entering your business cards you “buy” the right to search specific accounts for specific contacts; one I have looked at is called Jigsaw. There will probably be a dozen more similar solutions within 6 months as developers finally begin to look at the requirements of sales professionals, so track this space for yourself.
Bottom line, Business Development can be a time consuming and low productivity activity but eventually if you persist you will get to a better place. What does the better place look like? You have sold your solution to a number of accounts in a specific vertical / geographical territory. You have a network (real or virtual) that gives you relevant information; the accounts that you have not sold to know your name, your companies name and when they should call you; you have done a good job with the accounts you have sold to and you have repeat business in your business funnel.
It can take years but it is achievable, as with much else in this book the reason that more professional sales people do not achieve this is they have no conception of what they are striving for, and no willingness to do the work. If you do, you will be successful.
The main issue is how to allocate your time. Business development is often pushed aside when you have deals to work on. This is always a mistake. The best Business Development sales professional I have worked with allocated one day a week, every week, to calling his network and customer contacts, known or cold calls. He never relied on marketing to “fill his funnel” and was always one of the top two or three performers every year in every company he worked for.
A final word, not necessarily a very positive message, however it may be a very important one.
A poor business development outcome in the company I have worked for is the main reason I have moved on to other companies. I say outcome as some had very good marketing departments and saleseople but at some point the fundamentals of competition change. There has come a time on several occasions in my career when I realized that the market size and growth of the company I was working for was a constraint either to my sales achievement or my career progression.
The reasons were varied, but the symptoms were always the same; revenue growth slowed or went backwards while other competitive companies were prospering. There is a difference between a recession when all participants suffer and a change to a market structure, when a few companies prosper and others suffer. If you are on the wrong side of this phenomenon, recognize the reality of what is happening and start thinking about your next step.