Any good salesperson will tell you he manages success by having great relationships. He’ll also tell you he manages those relationships by using great measurement systems. It should be no different for deal professionals looking to grow their book of business.
As part of the 5 pillars of business development, we believe maintaining the right relationship tools and databases are essential to executing a successful outbound business development strategy.
There are several kinds of tools you should evaluate as you revamp your proactive outreach program. Whether you are looking to connect with customers, business owners, intermediaries, investors, lenders, or other important partners, having a reliable and systematic database is critical to successfully managing these relationships.
Identifying the right tools for certain types of activities is the best way to bring your firms’ collective rolodex to the next level. We’ve outlined some of the best to consider as you build out your business development strategy 2.0:
Customer Relationship Management systems (CRMs)
Salesforce is the go-to CRM system for most sales or relationship management professionals. Salesforce integrates seamlessly with various email platforms, including Microsoft Outlook which is the most used platform in the investing and banking industries. The Salesforce system is completely customizable and allows sales professionals to capture firm-level and individual-level information on customers, companies, intermediaries and track the status of the relationships at the various firms they are connected to. You can track past e-mail conversations, share contact details with your colleagues, and create dashboards based on the success rate of conversations that may lead to introductions, meetings, or deals.
Alternatives include LexisNexis or Navatar.
Marketing software providers, like Marketo or Constant Contact, are software solutions that create, distribute, and automate outbound email campaigns at scale. If you want to hit the newest Inc. 5000 list with a quick introduction (or maybe the latest newspaper article you were quoted in) using one of these systems is the easiest way to get those emails out quickly and with the ability to track who opens them, responds, and might be a worthwhile lead.
Although larger email blasts offer a slightly less personal touch, they can help to keep your team top-of-mind. It is important to note that some marketing automation software’s offer products that exceed the needs of the typical shop. If you are a first-time user of email automation, it might be worthwhile to start with MailChimp, Constant Contact, or Hubspot.
Social media and online networks
Although CRMs and marketing automation software can be powerful drivers of engagement and new opportunities, they are only as valuable as the information stored within them. If your CRM is full of outdated contact info, investment interests, or employee rosters, you will not realize any of the associated perks.
While regular phone calls and e-mails can help keep these tools up to date with manual inputs, social media and online networks are powerful ways to passively keep your rolodex up to date.
LinkedIn is the network of choice for most professionals when it comes to connecting with and managing new relationships amongst customers, colleagues, business partners and the like. Sales professionals might value the opportunity to see who is viewing their profile, the size and nature of a person’s network, and sending messages to those they are not already connected with. Linkedin is also a place you can share articles and other accolades as a way to bolster and legitimize your profile and let those searching you know that you are active and relevant in the market.
Although fewer deal professionals use it, Twitter can be a useful tool to both keep an eye on what is going on with fellow dealmakers (announced deals? new funds raised?) and within the key industries (new regulation announced affecting the manufacturing industry? a new hot area discovered for energy E&P?). In 140 characters or less, Twitter is an easy and effective way for deal professionals to keep up with the real time information that matters to them and can influence their everyday decision making or provide new insight into relevant opportunities.
Other useful tips
For sales professionals on the road, mobile versions of all of these tools will be particularly handy. You can even scan and store your business cards into your smartphone or search dedicated networks to squeeze in extra meetings to increase the ROI of your trip.