Why you need to invest in your BD team right now

August 23, 2023

We’re lacking as a nation

Business Development people have never been in higher demand. The COVID-19 pandemic changed everything, accelerating the digital revolution and highlighting an acute shortage in skills for B2B selling.

Recently through my work with BD Matters I have been in conversation with the Institute of Sales Practitioners; the leading, not-for-profit international professional body for sales. In their most recent report, they highlight:

“Our report identifies a critical shortage of professional salespeople that affects every business, but SMEs in particular. It also highlights a negative attitude in Britain towards selling that is holding the economy back. The government needs to intervene to close the skills gap, and to promote a more business-like attitude towards selling.”

Sales is not a profession. It should be, but it’s not.

Sales is met with snobbery and that means as a nation we aren’t embracing it.

So sales people aren’t being developed or upskilled. In fact, the next wave of Gen Z aren’t even seeing sales as a viable career option (particularly for young women as there’s still a disparity in the industry). 

This not only creates a talent shortage but also leaves many SMEs struggling.


Are we creating shame around sales among our youth?

Education in the early days is important. Students and graduates should have access to learning all about sales in a way that’s true to life. We hear from many students who say they don’t feel they are prepared for, or effective in, their sales role. This is largely because they’ve been taught in a theoretical and passive way – it’s a stark contrast to the real-life scenarios that a sales person, will face.

Marketing on the other hand, if you search for marketing courses there are thousands!  So we teach our kids to do marketing, but don’t ever do sales – that’s beneath you. Hmmm. Do we not want our kids to be confident, tenacious and great communicators? Sales seems like a pretty good foundation for these skills. 


How you as a business owner play a part

Sales people still don’t get supported by the businesses that hire them. Far too often, I see a lack of understanding of sales by business owners, thinking they can outsource their problems and making mistakes in who they appoint. They are desperate for the results but if they don’t have the skills and knowledge themselves in a rapidly changing sales environment from when they were growing up; how can they expect to identify the skills they need?

The findings of a series of studies conducted since 1988 by the sales force consultancy Chally Group analysed data from more than 100,000 business decision makers and discovered that 39% of B2B buyers select a vendor according to the skills of the salesperson rather than price, quality, or service features. That just highlights how important the right training and support is but most sales courses are taught by unvetted coaches, vocational options or as a modular part of a wider course i.e. business management (and sales). 


It can’t wait…

The ISP and BD Matters are trying to change the perception of sales so it’s seen as an exciting career path for graduates and upskill the BD workforce so they can grow our companies and economy more effectively. The government must intervene to help, as the recession has left many SMEs too weak to do it alone.

It’s an urgent matter especially when you consider that sales is constantly evolving. The adoption of digital technology has completely changed sales. From intent data to LinkedIn automation, MarTech CRM systems, data tracking, and GDPR, not to mention the plethora of channels, the rise of demand generation, the role of content, events, personal branding, the pitch process; the list goes on.  Gone are the days of just cold calling or driving the length of the country knocking on doors.


No sales? No business.

If you can’t sell, then you have no business. Its importance is just as high as the product, as important as marketing (some may argue more). 

So ask yourself, what % of your team are skilled sales people in these areas?  How much investment do you put into the training and development of these people? 

Your sales team needs nurturing and it’s not a one-time thing. Invest in their training, cheer them on, watch ’em blossom and get you new business. The choice is yours, and the impact is undeniable.


If you’re looking to provide ongoing training and support to your new biz people, join our BD Matters community where we help sales, marketing and BizDev professionals grow their skills and their pipelines. Check it out here.

If you’re struggling with hiring the right talent, Gray Matters can help build you an in-house growth team. We’d be your fractional new business solution until you’re ready to transition. Here’s our intro deck or book a free workshop to know more.