Have you ever thought about jobs that will be eventually taken over by smart machines?
We already have less demand for factory workers. Asian countries are currently testing driverless buses. Even journalists and reporters have got their tech counterpart, a news-writing bot called Heliograph. But rest assured, business developers won't disappear in the near future. They are responsible for the part of the business that demands personal touch and an individual approach to every client, and robots are still unable to recreate such relations at this stage of development.
But, luckily, automation has penetrated into biz dev processes to make them faster and easier. Let's have a look at tools that can significantly facilitate the lives of business development managers.
It all starts with communication. Of course, live communication matters a lot, but due to the social networks, we have the opportunity to establish contacts by clicking the right buttons. So where do the prospective clients hang out on the internet?
- LinkedIn. On this international, business-oriented network with 500+ million users in 200 countries and territories, you won't find pictures of cats or bathroom selfies, only work-related stuff. Create your CV-like profile, find people by their job and add connections to grow your network. Also, indicate your interests and join relevant groups to ask questions and discuss issues with fellows.
- Xing. Xing is a German competitor of LinkedIn with 11 million registered users from D-A-CH countries (Germany, Austria, Switzerland). If your target audience lives in these territories, you may want to consider this communication channel. Xing has free plug-ins to synchronize contacts with Microsoft Outlook, Lotus Notes, and Windows Address Book.
- Slack. Originally a corporate messenger and a set of team collaboration services, Slack now also helps to expand your network. This tool is on its way to turning into a community platform, so by registering there, you get access to a large pool of professional groups. Ask admins to give you access, get an invitation on your email and start looking for the necessary people.
- Viadeo. This is the place for making connections and networking with more than 65 million of entrepreneurs and startups from around the world. To get access to their profiles, you have to register by filling in the information about your career and work experience. Import the list of people you know from other platforms and see their connections on Viadeo. This resource also offers you an option of exchanging personal and professional "business cards" with other Viadeo users.
So you have a list of people who might be interested in your services, and it's time to contact them. Sounds pretty easy, but how many emails do you get every day? How many of them do you actually open and read? Mailboxes of your prospective clients are full of junk emails, too, but your offer has to overcome all of the filters. The following apps and extensions are here to help.
- Rapportive. It's hard to attract attention by email, but still, there some tips that can help. You have to know who you're going to talk with, and Rapportive will provide you with such information. This extension collects data from LinkedIn and shows you the profile of the person you're writing to – their full name, position and social media profiles.
- Name2email. It often happens that you know the only name of a prospective client and the company where he or she works, but you need contact information. And Name2Email is here to help you. Enter the name and company's domain into a special field, and the app will generate all possible emails. Hover your mouse over the line with emails, and choose the one with a pop-up showing person name.
- AutoBCC. BCC is a blind carbon copy of an email where the recipient is hidden. You can use it when you want to protect the privacy of recipients or don't want all of them to know who will receive the letter. AutoBCC enables you to send copies to your assistant or partner hassle-free.
- Streak. Streak is a Gmail plug-in that resembles a CRM. The main advantage of this tool is that it shows you if a recipient opened the letter. If so, you'll see the time when it was opened, the device used to read the email (desktop, mobile, tablet) and location of the user.
A biz dev job requires a high level of attention to details, but no one can concentrate 100 percent of the time – that's human nature. Nevertheless, some useful tools can come in handy to avoid small mistakes or just to make the daily routine of business development manager easier.
- timeanddate.com. If you are growing an international network of business partners, you'll set up meetings with people living in different time zones. In order to make sure that you schedule the right time, you can use this website with a calendar, time zone map and converter.
- Calendly. This app shows the time slot when you're available for meetings or calls. It synchronizes with Google, Microsoft Outlook, and iCalendar and automatically detects time zones which prevents you from being double-booked for the same time. Also, you can send a link to your Calendly schedule to your clients, and they will choose the best time for negotiations without back-and-forth messages.
- Grammarly. You will never have a second chance to make a good first impression. And when you outreach your customers via email, it greatly depends on your spelling. Grammarly will help you proofread and correct typos as well as grammar and stylistic mistakes. You can use a web version of this tool or set it up as an extension.
A variety of tools for business development is impressive. Automation won't do all the work for you, but you can dramatically simplify the processes and save time for things that require people skills.