Technically good lawyers, accountants and other professionals are commonplace. What’s rare is one with the added work winning or rainmaking skill set. Such attributes are made, not born, and come from building strong professional networks and a ‘go to reputation’ over time.
The whole world of business development can be quite overwhelming. Cold calling use to be all the rage, then it went out of fashion, now it’s back again. Or is it? Email marketing was thought to be the answer, then delete buttons, spam filters and sheer volume stopped your messages getting through. Advertising online and offline has always been hit and miss. Networking can work, but you’ve got to do it right and too few people are really trained in it well enough to generate results. On top of that, networking petrifies most professionals.
LinkedIn came to rescue of many professionals, allowing them to hide behind a computer but still do BD activities. it does work, but again, there are so many mistakes being made that it’s hit and miss for many. Social media was thought to be another saviour. But really how many professionals have the appetite or the marketing nous to boss Twitter, Facebook or other channels?
What worked last year may not work this year. Strategies, tools and techniques evolve over time, so you’re never quite sure what’s going to work. However, while approaches may change, there are four key principles or foundations that should dictate all of your BD activity. Five critical activities you must nail down to ensure a healthy client pipeline and an abundance of business opportunities. These are:
- FOCUS. I love the breakdown of this word: Follow One Course Until Successful. When you focus, you position yourself properly with key areas of expertise offered to particular sectors. it’s almost impossible to be seen as an authority while trying to be everything to everyone. Focus develops a ‘go to’ reputation and helps you really get under the skin of your ideal clients. You get to know their pain, problems, plans and projects. challenges, goals and aspirations, and creating a compelling USP that helps you stand out in the market. Focus also helps you charge more premium fees, because you’re better positioned than your competition. Finally, focus means discipline. You’ve got to say no to some mediocre, low margin ‘wrong fit’ stuff so you’ve got the bandwidth to say yes to the great ‘sweet spot’ ideal client stuff you really want to do.
- PROSPECTING. Prospecting is the lifeblood of anyone who has a sales or business development angle to their role. Opening doors and starting conversations is the foundation for hitting targets, earning commissions and winning bonuses. You might be the best sales person in the world, but if you’ve got nobody to sell to, you’re going to get fired or go broke. Poor sales people and mediocre business developers are often full of excuses as to why they are not hitting their numbers. The economy is bad, the product or service is not as good as the competition, the leads are not high enough quality etc.
If you’re not doing as well as you could be with your sales targets or income goals, your prospecting or lead generation is letting you down. If you can master mediums such as networking, email, phone and social media, you can create a wealth of sales opportunities.
- HABITS. Winning work is not a ‘jump in and jump out’ activity. It’s ongoing and requires systematic application. Your portfolio and your business opportunities will look good (or bad) in 3-6 months based on what you do in the next 30 days. that means developing the habits or disciplines that keep you on it. Nurturing relationships, keeping in touch, reaching out, starting conversations, following up…all of these things require habit to sustain. GOod ideas and battle winning strategies yield nothing without execution. And taking action once may land a deal but won’t guarantee a stellar year. Turning action into habits is the missing key that most professionals neglect.
- TRAINING. Not just any training, but world class training is what takes you from good to great. You’ve got great technical skills and strong academic qualifications. But you don’t know how to build solid professional networks and raise your profile in your chosen domain. Add to that working a room confidently, introducing yourself properly, asking great questions to uncover opportunities, using LinkedIn to generate leads, pitching effectively, leveraging connections to generate referrals… all of these skills require training, honing, practising, coaching and embedding.
There are many ways to win business. Many different styles, strategies, weapons and scripts. You need help finding your way, your approach that will work for you, your personality, your markets and your strengths. But fundamental to every approach is focus on the right opportunities, prospecting to generate leads, habit building to sustain progress and training to build skills.
This is not an overnight thing. With so many different ways to go, one workshop or online course will not cut it. That’s why the BD Academy has created an inhouse training program that upgrades the work-winning capability of your people. It’s already helped one large accounting firm generate almost £1m of new business in just 12 months, which will become £5-10m in coming years. To find out more, get in touch and we’ll have a chat.