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Brian Caffarelli on the Subtle Art and Exacting Science of Business Development

Brian Caffarelli shares his decades of experience in sales and consulting and what he learned about the art and science that is business development. Learn why becoming a guide that inspires trust is one of the most important things you can do to sell more, why success in business development comes down to good habits, and why setting expectations at the beginning is crucial to making the right sale to the right client.


Mo asks Brian Caffarelli: When was the moment that you realized that business development was something you wanted to focus on?

  • Brian’s first job out of college was in selling automobiles as a wholesaler to dealerships. Everything began for Brian with his first sale, and how that came about because of developing a relationship with another human being.
  • Seeing salespeople that were successful and respected helped Brian navigate what it took to grow in a sales career. So much of success is simply about being in the environment and paying attention.
  • If you want to grow your skills, start with the fundamentals of communication and psychology. It’s also important to apply what you learn along the way instead of just taking it in.
  • Consider what you’ve done well and what you could have done better.
  • Translating his business development skills to a virtual environment is something that Brian is working on, as well as working on learning new things and being open to seeing things differently.
  • A recent study revealed the Learned Dogmatism effect and how people tend to become more closed-minded the more expert they become in a specific domain. One of the keys to Brian’s success is striving against that and always being willing to learn.


Mo asks Brian Caffarelli: What is your personal definition of business development?

  • Brian likes to think of business development as the art and science of guiding the buyer through their journey to an informed and confident decision.
  • Just because you know the science, that doesn’t mean you’ll be great at business development. It’s equal parts the art of empathy and flexibility, and science of habits and communication.
  • Mountain climbing guides are great metaphors for business development. Really good salespeople are helping people reach their own personal summit and get what they need to experience from the mountain.
  • The defining characteristic of a guide is the ability to inspire trust. Trust comes before the sale. You need to be able to see ahead of corners for your buyers, and to challenge their thinking where appropriate.
  • The challenge for the guide is in focusing on what the buyer needs over their own needs.
  • Work on the skills and behaviors that inspire trust in you and live your life with integrity so you are worthy of that trust. Study why people buy, because that is going to be your biggest point of leverage for creating a great buying experience.


Mo asks Brian Caffarelli: What is your favorite science, step, or strategy from the GrowBIG Training or Snowball System?

  • Whole brain thinking stands out the most to Brian. When trying to communicate, it’s easy to over index on the message and under index on the individual receiving the message. The Herrmann Brain Dominance model allows you to understand the preferences of the receiver so you can craft a message that will resonate with them.
  • Good questions are the prompt that people need to think out loud and identify the problems they are facing.
  • If you’re in a conversation with a prospect, one of your goals should be to reduce the amount of words that are open to interpretation. The more you know exactly what they are saying the better.
  • Success in business development often comes down to simply forming really good habits.
  • One habit that Brian works hard on is always finding something of value to the client that he holds most dear. This habit keeps them top of mind and helps him identify new opportunities for adding value.
  • Brian spends a half an hour each morning scanning for new research with another hour each Saturday.
  • Think like your buyer and make that habitual so that becomes the way you enter the conversation.


Mo asks Brian Caffarelli: Tell me of a business development story that you are really proud of.

  • Brian’s most proud of the lesson he learned from his story. Early in his career, Brian was part of a major sales effort with a world-class brand. Negotiations went very well until there was one intractable snag with the contract.
  • Brian learned that it wasn’t just about making a sale, it was about making a quality sale. Some clients aren’t right for your organization.
  • You will never regret the client you didn’t get, as much as the wrong client you did get.
  • Brian had to step up in two dimensions: In being with the buyer through all the steps of the process, and in bridging the gap between the seller’s needs and the buyer’s needs.
  • Shared expectations are important. You should be diligent around creating shared expectations before a sale is made so that everyone is on the same page and you can avoid making painful mistakes down the road.
  • If something isn’t a fit, it’s better to find that out sooner rather than later.


Mo asks Brian Caffarelli: If you could record a video around business development and send it back to your younger self, what would it say?

  • If you think selling is hard, buying is harder. Brian would want to tell his younger self that if he was more in tune and empathetic to the struggles of the buyer, sales wouldn’t be as hard.
  • When you feel stuck with sales, realize that the buyer is even more stuck.
  • To create a great buying experience, deconstruct as many of the little decisions that need to be made before the purchase decision. Get a sense of where you are in the process and the personal motivations of the other person for the stage they are at.
  • As the guide, it’s your job to help the buyer understand what the next step is and move them forward when they are ready.
  • Look into the past and see if your organization or you personally did something similar before. You might find challenges that were overcome and lessons that can be applied right now.
  • In the early stages of the buying journey, the buyer doesn’t necessarily realize the enormity or the complexity of the problem they are trying to solve. When trying to create demand, it’s problem knowledge and not product knowledge that moves the needle.
  • Empathy is the keyword. Buyers are trying to make a really hard decision and the better you understand the buying challenges the more likely you are to being able to solve their problem.



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