Several People Are Typing: Getting To Know Business Development

Several People Are Typing: Getting To Know Business Development

Through a Slack discussion with Speak’s business development team, we explored common misconceptions about the world of sales and what sets Speak apart.  


Jessica: Hi all, thanks for joining to chat about all things business development. Before we get started, I want to know why you think you’ve found yourself in a business development role. Did you always know it was your calling or did you stumble into it?

Adam: I guess I did kind of stumble into it. My first real job out of college was in bizdev (a long time ago) and I realized how much I love the human connection it brings as part of the job.

Reuben: Start a business. Congratulations, you are the new head of the sales department.

Matt: ha! yep, when you start your own business, you’ve got to sell. and do other stuff, but mostly sell!

Reuben: If you don’t do the selling part, the rest of it doesn’t last very long

Amy: My first ‘job’ was helping my grandfather sell his wood creations. At twelve years old, I went door-to-door with a binder of his work selling them to anyone with a checkbook. But I never imagined this would be my career.

Reuben: Sidebar, my dad was a woodcarver too!

Amy: I was geared up to be a writer, which morphed into marketing and then evolved to biz dev.

Matt: I have no woodworking/woodcarving family members, and now I feel sad about that

Amy: You could start.

Adam: My grandad would whittle on the porch. Matt, you could definitely try that.

Matt: hmmm… I’ll stick to gardening.

Jessica: Ha! I don't know why we haven't sold more to woodworkers, you all know the business.

Matt: booming trade. we’re missing out.

Amy: You whittle while waiting for the tomatoes to ripen

Jessica: I'll work on some marketing materials to get us woodworker leads ASAP. I have a feeling that the human connection is the reason many of you have made this your career. Though at times business development folks can get a bad rep. What’s one misconception people have about the work you do?


Matt: blerg. we get lumped in with salespeople of every stripe, and our culture here is just so different from the traditional conception of sales

Adam: I would love to hear more about this “bad rep”. I thought everybody loved salespeople!

Amy: ha!

Matt: Adam has never met anyone he didn’t like, even a skeezy salesperson

Adam: Truth

Matt: fyi, how is one supposed to spell skeezy?

Reuben: Skeezy. it is now

Reuben: From Urban Dictionary...Skeezy: The quality of being sketchy or of dubious origin. A skeezy guy is the kind that you’re not quite sure where they came from, but they tend to be the oily, used car salesman types. 

Jessica: Ha! If I could put money on who would pull out the Urban Dictionary, I would have put money on you, Reuben.

Matt: retweet

Amy: Back to your question Jessica about misconceptions … I think some people are intimidated by the thought of having a ‘sales’ career. Meeting goals, receiving lots of no's, being a self-starter, etc. isn’t for everyone.

Adam: Yeah and the idea of commission seems to scare a lot of people away. But being in charge of your own income where the sky's the limit is actually a great career choice.

Matt: this may sound silly, but I really see the sales folks at Speak as sherpas. if you’re not familiar, sherpas are the native guides that help folks get to the top of the mountain (most famously, Mount Everest). The thing is, a sherpa is there to help because they’ve done it a thousand times before. they’ve been up every path, and they know every pitfall and shortcut. so when someone says, “hey, I’m new at this, but I want to get to the top of the mountain;” you’re going to need a sherpa. That's how I see our sales team. we’re here to point you in the right direction to find a solution that meets your goals and works with the resources you have.

of course, the rest of our team will help you through the rest of the journey, but I feel like it’s our job to map out the path and get you started. sure, there are some details to iron out along the way, but we’re not “selling” in the traditional sense.

Jessica: I love that Matt, it also encompasses Amy and Adam's points. Not everyone has what it takes to be a sherpa, but we are better because of our sherpas (aka you all)

Matt: I’m changing all of our titles now, btw

Adam: Adam Duncan, Speak Creative Sherpa

Jessica: Sherpa Team, Senior Sherpa, Sherpa Specialist. It all works

Matt: real sherpas who read this are going to be like… “what?”

how many sherpas do you think read our blog?

Google is going to crawl this article and be like discard

Jessica: Hmm probably not enough, will update our target audience to include woodworkers and sherpas.

Reuben: I’m sure several sherpas listen to our podcast as they are navigating the Himalayas…

Amy: Similar to a sherpa, it’s like being a fitness trainer of sorts. We know what it takes to be successful and get ‘fit’. I love helping a business put together a marketing ‘fitness’ plan. The path may be slightly different for everyone, but we have the tools to get you where you want to go.

Jessica: So #teamsherpa, what do you feel is the hardest part of selling digital work vs. something you can hold in your hands?

Matt: I personally find it easier?

so I reject the premise of your question!

Adam: Yeah, I agree with Matt.

Jessica: I accept the rejection, tell me more about that

Adam: Plus, our design work moves people. And that’s better than something you can hold!

Reuben: Search engine optimization can be a little difficult. I always tell folks it’s two parts science and one part voodoo

Matt: maybe there was a time 10 years ago when the web still felt a little mysterious and scary, but the knowledge gap has completely closed. folks are super familiar with digital these days, and they can pretty quickly assess the good, the bad, and the ugly

I can point to a website and ask someone to look at it with me, and we can break it down together.

in real-time, and that’s pretty great

Amy: I tell people you can’t harvest the tomatoes without tending the garden. That’s when lights come on. I agree with Matt … people get it. 

Jessica: Yeah I can imagine the highly technical elements can be harder to convey, which is exactly why people are looking for an expert to handle it for them. But it also makes sense to me that so much of our lives are digital that people just get it

Matt: yeah. they appreciate the sausage. even if they have no idea how it’s made 

Amy: Speak is like a charcuterie board of digital things. Including sausage

Adam: It also helps that Speak has been doing this for a very long time so there are a lot of resources to pull from.

Matt: I will say that selling the vision for video production can be challenging

because when we sell video, there’s like this idea that the client has in their head, but then there’s the stuff that our team comes up with that is like a billion times more awesome, and folks are always blown away

Reuben: It’s pretty easy to sell the “need” for a new website, usually all you have to do is bring up their current one….and watch them squirm

Jessica: set the channel topic: charcuterie board of digital things

Matt: wait, I missed the charcuterie while I was typing

Adam: Amy likes sausage on her charcuterie boards…

Matt: What kind of monster doesn’t?

Jessica: I'd imagine that tension is probably part of any work that is highly creative. You want to execute on the client's vision but also leave room for our team of creatives to expand the vision into something that will be even better than they could have dreamed.

Amy: The real digital disconnect often is with timing and budget. People understand the need, but the cost and time to do it well is another thing.

Jessica: That's a great point Amy, which leads to my next question. If you could help every prospective partner understand one thing before they meet with you, what would it be?

Reuben: Time + budget + scope = Quality.

Adam: For me, I would love it if prospective partners could magically understand that I truly want to provide what is best for them while also ensuring our team is set up to succeed. Back to the “bad rep” of salespeople from a previous question, we definitely aren’t out there trying to squeeze every single penny out of our clients. We want nothing more than to see their business grow and succeed because of our work.

Amy: Back to the Sherpa thing … you can’t conquer Everest without the right tools, training, and guides. You wouldn’t hike Everest in flip-flops, would you? If your goal is worth accomplishing, you need to be willing to invest in what it will take to get there.

Matt: be honest and be open! some folks approach a sales conversation like they are scared to share all of the nitty gritty details. maybe they feel like someone will try to take advantage of them, but that’s not who we are. the more we know, the more we can help with a solution that actually works.

Amy: I’d love for people to think of it like buying a house, not a car. Consider what you want, what you need, and your budget. Then share those things with us so that we can help. Like Matt said, if we don’t have all of the info, we are flying blind.

Reuben: ABC Always Be Closing should be Always Be Curious.


love that scene - total sidebar… for the love of Meghan Markle watch Ted Lasso

Reuben: YES^

Jessica: All super valuable points, most valuable point = watch Ted Lasso. So wrapping up with a laugh — what’s your most-used business phrase that slips into your personal life? Unfortunately, mine is sync.

Matt: I say “circle back” and mentally cringe every time I do

Reuben: The laws of physics apply….

Adam: Now that you ask that, I think it’s actually phrases from my personal life that slip into business conversations way more than the other way around.

Amy: Is it just me, but I can’t think of one. I really try to turn off when I’m not working.

I agree Adam. I think that may be it for me as well.

Jessica: Well I hope we can circle back on the points brought up in this sync sometime, it was fun! Appreciate all the insight shared, thanks for joining.

Matt: thanks all!


Let’s Chat 

Our team of business development sherpas would love to chat with you about what we can do to help your business grow. Whether it’s an elevated digital presence or a video that explains how your organization is making an impact, we’d love to help. 

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Posted by Jessica Freeman at 10:36