It’s a wild world out there! Organizations can learn a lot from the animal kingdom, especially when it comes to business development and sales.
Just like animals, professionals each have their own strengths and weaknesses. As marketers, we can help our doer-sellers hone their business development strengths and develop strategies to fill in gaps.
Take the quiz (http://www.whatanimalami.com) to see what animal you are and continue reading for summaries of each animal’s BD strengths and how you can help them.
Are you a wildebeest, lion, crocodile, giraffe, cheetah, mongoose, or elephant?
The Enduring Wildebeest
Like the wildebeest, endurance—in its simplest form—is our ability to apply ourselves for relatively long periods of time. This quality gives us the mental capability to continue moving forward despite the obstacles, hardships, pain, fatigue, or stress in our path.
Wildebeests in the BD Environment:
Wildebeests understand that business development success takes a lot of time and effort. They are not discouraged by a lengthy sales cycle and will not give up on business development activities just because they lose an opportunity.
How to Help Wildebeests:
Your wildebeests are willing to put in the work, but sometimes they need someone to help ensure they are investing their time and effort in the right areas. Work with them on their pursuit strategies and help them map out next steps for each prospect.
You can also help them recognize when it’s time to stop or change direction (for example, if they have been consistently pursuing a specific prospect that just isn’t going to buy from your firm or a type of organization where you haven’t had much success).
The Strategic Lion
For lions, it’s all or nothing. If their strategy fails, they go hungry. For us, however, it’s all about organizing our thoughts, ideas, experiences, skills, expertise, and expectations to accomplish a desired goal.
Lions in the BD Environment:
Lions excel in identifying the right targets and developing strong strategies to pursue those targets. They understand that hunting as a pack rather than as a lone lion is the most effective way to accomplish a goal (like winning new business).
How to Help Lions:
While lions are extremely driven and tactical, they can sometimes come across as aggressive, intimidating or impersonal—to both prospects AND team members. Help them understand the value in collaboration and communication (you know, the “warm and fuzzies”). Even the most effective tactical strategy is rendered useless if a prospect finds your firm unapproachable.
Considering pairing up your lions with a giraffe or an elephant (continue reading to see the strengths of these animals).
The Enterprising Crocodile
Enterprising means showing initiative, a willingness to undertake new projects, and a strong desire for success and achievement—all qualities that support the role of the entrepreneur. Like the crocodile, enterprising people possess the energy, creativity, and ambition required to see the possibilities in the future that others cannot see.
Crocodiles in the BD Environment:
Many doer-sellers may overlook opportunities right in front of them (“low-hanging fruit”), but not your crocodiles. Crocodiles are adept at identifying opportunities that others miss. They know that timing is of the essence and jump on opportunities quickly.
How to Help Crocodiles:
Crocodiles generally act alone, which means they could be missing out on opportunities to involve other team members with complementary service capabilities and sales skills. Make sure you are dialed into what your crocodiles are working on and offer suggestions for how they can team with others to make their pursuits more effective.
Additionally, crocodiles sometimes fail to evaluate and analyze the potential roadblocks. Work with them to uncover risks and potential objections and develop plans to address these early on.
The Graceful Giraffe
No matter how you see it, grace is a disposition that requires compassion toward others and the desire to extend goodwill. It incorporates the exercise of love and kindness—most importantly, to those who may not deserve it. Grace is as crucial in business as it is in life.
Giraffes in the BD Environment:
Giraffes thrive in building relationships, which is an essential part of business development success. They are genuinely concerned with others’ well-being and their sincerity shines through when interacting with prospects; clients and prospects are innately inclined to like and trust giraffes.
How to Help Giraffes:
Giraffes have a tendency to be people-pleasers and can sometimes be taken advantage of by aggressive prospects (translation: discounted pricing). You can help by guiding their pursuit strategy and pairing them up with a strong closer at the appropriate stage of the sales process.
The Efficient Cheetah
Similar to the cheetah, efficiency is all about finishing the job in the shortest possible time with a minimum of wasted energy and resources. You schedule your day, prioritize every task, and keep those priorities by refining to-do lists frequently and adopting a policy of strict time management. You chunk or break your larger projects down into small, easier-to-manage steps.
Cheetahs in the BD Environment:
In my experience, A LOT of accountants tend to be cheetahs. They are extremely organized, disciplined and process-driven, all characteristics that are valuable in the business development process.
How to Help Cheetahs:
Because cheetahs value speed and efficiency, they may become discouraged when they invest time and energy into business development activities that do not yield immediate, tangible results.
Help your cheetahs prioritize targets and opportunities to focus on only their top prospects, and make sure they understand the resources available to them (so they know exactly where to find information, who to talk to about XYZ, how to appropriately delegate, and so on.)
It’s also important to recognize and reward a cheetah’s efforts, not just their results.
The Risk-Taking Mongoose
Succeeding in troubled times often involves taking a risk. But like the mongoose, you need to evaluate of all the options involved with the chance you’re taking before you make a decision.
Risk-takers frequently review goals and determine the various routes to get to the destination. Often they choose the path with the highest risk in order to gain the maximum reward.
Mongooses in the BD Environment:
Mongooses are not afraid to fail in business development. Challenges that others see as overwhelming, your mongooses see as simply another obstacle that they can overcome.
A mongoose doesn’t see things as they are, but rather as they could be. They can be visionary and often have innovative ideas for ways to help your clients, present potential solutions, and structure or staff engagements.
How to Help Mongooses:
Mongooses can often help drive your firm forward and push your teams out of their comfort zones. However, it’s important to make sure your mongooses understand and consider the big picture, not just short-sighted, high-risk opportunities.
You can also work with them to identify smaller (less “spectacular”) opportunities that they may be overlooking.
The Communicating Elephant
Just as it is for elephants, successful relationships between people—in life and business—depend on good communication. Effective communicators understand that it’s not always best to use a lot of words when relaying an idea. In fact, the more words we use, the more our message can be obscured.
Elephants in the BD Environment:
Elephants are expert communicators and are great at developing meaningful relationships. They are skilled in active listening and take time to comprehend the details in others’ messages.
How to Help Elephants:
Elephants thrive in prospect discovery meetings—that is, the first meeting you get with a prospect and have the opportunity to ask thoughtful questions to understand that they are looking for in a service provider.
Look for opportunities to include your elephants in meetings with clients and prospects, or pair them up with lions or cheetahs:
- Elephants can help your lions soften their approach and effectively communicate with prospects.
- They can also help your cheetahs get the right information from prospects in order to appropriately prioritize opportunities and determine next steps.
Your business development ecosystem needs animals of all types to be well-balanced and have the greatest chance of consistent, long-term success. Understanding the various strengths of your doer-sellers can help us as marketers better support our teams in the sales process.
This quiz is just one example, but there are numerous other personality tests available that can help you determine the strengths and weaknesses of your team members as it relates to business development, including these:
- DISC Personality Testing (https://discpersonalitytesting.com/)
- Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (https://www.myersbriggs.org/)
- Emergenetics (https://www.emergenetics.com/)