Few professional sellers enjoy the challenge of business development — and even fewer excel at it. Generating high-quality leads is no easy feat, and as buyer power continues to increase, successful business development is only getting harder.

Recent studies from CSO Insights found that only 23% of B2B buyers prefer to engage salespeople to solve their business problems. Another 70% of buyers wait until after they have fully defined their needs to contact a salesperson. What can your business development team do with that stark reality?

A glimmer of opportunity comes from that same CSO Insights research: 90% of buyers are willing to engage salespeople earlier in the process if a selling organization can deliver more value by means of:

  • Sharing new insights and information
  • Supporting a buying decision that is risky for the buyer or organization
  • Helping solve a complex business need or one involving multiple areas of the organization

In order to provide this value, though, business development teams need to do better at prospecting and qualifying leads. Here I will share how your selling organization can improve its business development discipline, processes and techniques to deliver the most value internally — and externally.


The discipline of business development within a sales organization is crucial to driving revenue success. While integrating sales and marketing is critical to high-quality lead generation, sales must own responsibility for developing their own pipeline of opportunities in addition to what they get from marketing. Business development maintains and improves lead flow, while also allowing the sales team to engage in strategic selling earlier in the buying process, helping increase relationships and win rates.

There are typically two differing approaches we see at Mereo:

  • Business development (BD) is rolled into account executive / account manager (AE / AM) responsibilities
    When a BD function is integrated into the standard sales function, sales tends to apply the same principles and techniques that make them successful salespeople. They usually classify BD activities as “early buying cycle” and rely on a clean handoff between the two functions.
  • A separate and independent BD team is launched to help find and “warm up” leads for AEs / AMs
    When an independent BD team is created, on the other hand, professionals tend to slack on sales discipline and their focus turns to the volume of leads created, rather than quality leads with a higher probably of closing. Ironically, this is the same problem that sales often has with marketing leads — good volume but not high quality.

Regardless of who is responsible for prospecting and qualifying leads — be it AEs / AMs or a dedicated business development team — the winners will not just make it a numbers game. The winners will leverage proven techniques to find, qualify and nurture high-quality prospects that improve win rates and drive more deal flow and revenue.


Strategic selling requires your selling team to understand the needs of the buyer, personalize those needs for the key decision makers and then articulate how your solution addresses those specific buying needs.

Here are five core business development techniques that drive higher-quality leads that result in better revenue performance — not just more leads:

  1. Start by asking good questions and listening. Your goal is not to get through a conversation; it is to uncover real issues and opportunities — identify issues, intensify the pain and help the buyer internalize it. On average, people spend 60% of conversations talking about themselves and that number jumps to 80% over digital platforms. Stop talking. Ask good questions and listen.
  2. Uncover pains. Start the conversation by framing your questions around uncovering the buyer’s need and specific pain points. Do NOT start by talking about your product or solution. You cannot effectively evaluate an opportunity if you do not understand what problems you are trying to solve.
  3. Connect the dots. When it is your turn to talk, do not just read the features list off the data sheet. Be sympathetic to the issues a buyer has, and clearly explain how your solution addresses their specific needs and pains. If they do not have a pain that you can solve — move on to the next opportunity!
  4. Cast vision. Do not assume that the buyer knows how your solution can benefit them — you need to ensure that you connect the dots to how your solution helps them gain some benefit.
  5. Back it up. According to a Forrester Research study, 71% of buyers said that client value stories carried the most weight in creating credibility of the seller, yet 78% of executive buyers say salespeople don’t provide relevant client examples. Do not be part of that 78%.


To learn more about how to maximize value along your buyer’s journey for sustainable revenue gains, download our Complete Sales Organization Guide to Seek to Serve, Not to Sell™.