Business Development Centers have always been a strange abnormality and a sticking point for me because they were created and sold to address a systemic issue that no one really wants to tackle. Slumping sales and under-performing salespeople that are routinely described as order takers, because they lack the ability to be business developers, have created an opportunity for this anomaly in the sales and customer relationship management process.
A Business Development Center also known as BDC is nothing more than a system for generating prospects from predetermined sources and activities. The system consists of a series of processes and as such, any well trained individual under the correct supervision of a manager who knows how to manage processes will be able to produce results that are predictable, repeatable and track-able.
Unfortunately, the elephant in the room that most people are not willing to talk about is that the majority of salespeople in dealerships do not have the basic skill sets to do their jobs, and I am not referring to the usual in-dealership client interaction activities. I am referring to the ability to develop their own prospect sources; cultivate their natural markets that include their clients, business associates as well as their sphere of influence.
I am referring to them communicating effectively with prospects to sustain the relationships during long and short selling cycles as well as interacting with customers throughout their ownership life cycle; and finally leveraging the use of technology to keep all these activities together and running smoothly. If you query the average BDC expert, the argument they will put forth for having a BDC department is that it will serve primarily as a lead generator, a call center and a great follow up tool to produce and induce good survey responses. However, when you tabulate all the expenses that are involved, both hard and soft costs, what you have, in most cases is a department generating expenses that cannot be justified. What further re-enforces this fact is when you take into account where these leads eventually end up, on the salesperson’s desk.
The fact of the matter is that avoiding the root cause of a problem does not make it go away, it only postpones the inevitable and in this case, we are talking about maintaining a staff of salespeople performing like clerks that should be business developers. The issue is that in most businesses the key players do not have a well defined job description and the training to support the skill demands of the position. With this understanding, when most leaders in this situation are pressed with mission critical decision will resort to social proof for guidance in making their decisions.
Many will hire a BDC team in attempts to increase their sales instead of holding the sales team accountable for doing the job they are hired to do because they know that in most cases these individuals cannot! Here is the solution, define the job description of the individuals responsible for generating sales. Spend the time necessary to identify, attract and develop the right talent because your business depends on it. Finally, train and hold them accountable for the outcome. What I mean by that is, if you need them to be good on the phone, train for that, if you need them to be good prospectors, train for that, it sounds simple but if you analyze the current skill sets of the people on your sales teams then you will appreciate why so many external software developers are creating products in attempts to address issues only your salespeople can solve.