How to Win New Business – Theory V Practice

Let’s face it, unless you ‘win new business’, and keep ‘winning new business’, you won’t have a business.  It recently struck me how many ‘Marketing Strategists’ I know, who are able tell you ‘how to win business’ – but in truth, they come to me to ‘win new business’ for them.  So why aren’t they doing it themselves and why am I ‘winning more new business’ than those who are better qualified than me?

A couple of years ago Christmas was coming up fast.  I had only just started in earnest on SEO marketing of my services.   In the Sales Business (unless you’re selling Christmas trees) it’s the one time of year that I used to get a break.  My wife reminded me about taking an exam for a well-known marketing membership organisation.  I had planned the dissertation that I was going to write in my head, and I was all ready to start writing, when the telephone rang.....

....“I am just starting a business venture and I need help with a strategy and someone to put it in place for me” said the prospective customer.  Needless to say, that’s the way my Christmas break seems to go these days.  In other words, whilst my colleagues in Marketing Strategy with their membership qualifications and MBA’s are on holiday, I’m forever being asked to help on another project.  When you’re working flat-out on projects, it’s somewhat difficult to find the time to gain those extra letters after your name.  But in truth, would I rather be snowed under with work or have the extra letters after my name?

For me, ‘winning new business’ is a mixture of my own Specialist Lead Generation and Sales Process including Opportunity Creation, Consultative Telemarketing, Search Engine Marketing (SEO plus), Direct Mail and Email Marketing.  It’s funny really, because whilst my colleagues could probably explain these subjects better than me - they talk about ‘winning new business’ for a living but I actually undertake ‘winning new business’ for a living.  So what is the difference between talking about ‘winning new business’ and actually ‘winning new business’?

In short, if you read enough good books, you will in theory understand the process of ‘how to win new business’.  As most people know however, theory ends at the point where practice begins.  If you understand the theory of how to run a Telemarketing Campaign for example, then you know that it begins with determining the demographics of a potential buyer and ends with them signing an order.  Yet what the text books generally fail to explain in detail, regards the personal interaction involved in the process.  There’s an old saying that “People buy from People” – which sounds pretty obvious, but the saying really means “People buy from People that they can communicate with effectively and people they believe they can trust”.

Anyone can pick up a telephone and call someone from whom they wish to ‘win new business’; but few people can actually achieve the objective in a sensible time-frame and on a realistic budget.  Putting aside demographic targeting (the first important part of the process), if one simply called every potential customer on a targeted list – success would be unlikely.  Yet the text book will often tell you that if you make enough calls then you will ‘win new business’ simply by the Laws of Probability.  Again, this is where the theory of ‘how to win new business’ departs from the practice of ‘how to win new business’.  What is said (and more importantly) how it is said – will play a key role in ridiculously poor or amazingly good results.

I will try to give an example which makes a big difference when seeking to ‘win new business’ that is often discussed in Marketing Strategy, but the actual method is generally neglected.  A good marketing strategist will always tell you to “Listen First” as part of the selling process.  That’s all well and good, but if you picked up the telephone and just listened until someone said anything, most people would think you were barking mad! 

Of course, the Marketing Strategist would tell you to use the right pitch and use “open” and “closed” questions, which of course is correct - and to “Listen” to the answers.  But the one thing a Marketing Strategist will often not understand is “how does the other person know you are listening?”  Again, if you followed the text book advice – you would repeat back everything the customer tells you – but that makes you sound like an annoying 8 year old who copies everything you say.  So what is the answer? 

I’ll give you another example.  About 3 months ago, I was approached by a company led by two very intelligent chaps, both very passionate about their company.  The offering was highly complex and whilst growth was being achieved in the business, putting across the message to the right audience was proving difficult.  The company offers a piece of software that solves a major problem and is marketed at an affordable price.  I was hired to make calls to the right people and arrange meetings, but progress was slow.  I’ll explain why there was a problem and how this was overcome.

Sometimes, people forget that I provide Business Development and put me in the box of ‘The telemarketing guy’.  These chaps were wise enough to ask me, “If you could change anything to improve results – what would you do?”  I pointed out that they didn’t really sell software; they sold a ‘Consultative Methodology with a software tool”.  These chaps were even wiser, because they took my advice and suddenly the number of qualified appointments with buyers increased dramatically.

 As an external consultant, who had seen this type of mistake before (experience) I quickly spotted the problem.  So when you want to ‘win new business’, don’t always consult the text book (or someone who’s read it) – because experience will always give a better Return On Investment than theoretical advice.

The simple answer as to “how to win new business” – is to either short-cut your learning by asking for advice from an expert who does this day-in-day-out (such as me), or to simply outsource the project to someone who knows what they’re doing – call Stephen Law on 0870 042 1263 or email me at

Stephen Law is a Business Development expert. Over a 25 year period, Stephen worked has worked from a Foot Canvasser and Telemarketing Junior in the 1980s to an Executive Director and Company Secretary in the 1990s. Stephen's sales and marketing career spanned the IT, Communications and Technology sectors, where he was always top in his field. Stephen has also been head of Manufacturing, HR, and R&D for a number of organisations. In 2005, Stephen decided to form his own company offering Business Development via Consultative Telemarketing. Few people enjoy telemarketing as much as Stephen and fewer still understand how to communicate effectively with senior decision makers. Stephen is an Associate Partner of the No1 UK Business Development Agency and an Honorary Director at the LCDA for Business Development, where he has taught the Art of Selling at London South Bank University.

Posted in Business Development, Telemarketing

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