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The Very Best Way to Train Work Winners in Your Firm

bd academy for top 100 accounting firms, networking, referrals, business development, fee growth, cross selling, reputation, personal branding

The Options to Train Your People in BD

So you want to upskill your people in business development? Thinking of investing in some training? Your training options are:

1. External training workshops. Bringing in outside experts with a track record in BD is smart. But workshops on their own are not really smart. They are effective for creating a short term buzz and limited impact. But you’ll find that the effect is limited. It works well enough for hard topics (compliance, technical development, product knowledge, regulatory training).

But with soft skills like networking, winning work, selling and communicating with influence, it wears off quickly. People go back to what they were doing before. It’s not really embedded, so it doesn’t develop long term habits or sustainable behavioural change. Not good.

2. Online learning. Can be a low cost option that can be used to reach many people simultaneously. There are some decent webinars and online learning platforms that will help. But skills and approaches to BD are ever changing. What works last year doesn’t necessarily work this year. A library of videos and online courses can go out of date quickly. It’s also not particularly transformational or interactive, as the interaction is largely one way.

Another drawback with online learning is getting people to show up. These professionals have to be driven and self-motivated to go through the modules in their own time. Are they really going to do that? What kind of whip-cracking or monitoring will you need to get people jumping through those hoops?

Most importantly with online learning, they study privately. As a result, they miss out on the richness of debate, discussion, practice, banter and shared stories that happens in a face to face classroom situation. Not ideal.

3. Internal training workshops. You may enlist one of your HR, marketing or BD people to run some training workshops. It’s certainly cheaper than paying an outsider. And of course, they know what they’re doing, right? Yes, to a degree. But first, they might know BD but not how to train BD. If they are not experiences trainers, teachers or coaches, they will likely struggle to gain traction and instill habits.

Internal trainers are also in danger of teaching how they would do BD. Their way. Their experience. Their approach. They don’t have much experience of all the different approaches for different personalities, situations and markets. They’re also not working with other firms and in the wider market place, so they’re unlikely to know what is really working and what isn’t. Not effective.

4. Informal coaching. Some firms ask senior partners and BD specialists to get alongside the less experienced rainmaking ‘newbies’ and coach them. The thinking is that experienced work-winners can bottle that and imbue their protegees with the magic BD sauce. Mentoring programs and coaching partners are set up. This usually fails for a few reasons.

First, if you want clones, you’ll get them. People get into ruts and bad habits. They only know how to win work one way – the way they’ve done it for years. That may not work for whoever they’re mentoring, because they’re not the same people. Second, mentors and coaches may not have the time nor inclination to bring through others. It takes patience and a considerable investment to create rainmakers. It’s not just a case of ‘get out there, do more networking and always be closing.’ A flawed approach.

5. Self-directed learning. Perhaps you think your rising stars should take ownership of their own BD training. Read some books, blogs or articles. Watch a few inspirational YouTube videos or listen to a few podcasts. You expect them to learn on the job. Get out there, make some mistakes and hone your skills.

This approach is flawed because you’re making the assumptions that (a) people are self-motivated enough to upskill themselves and put in the effort (b) they’ve got the time and discipline to go looking for what they need (c) they go to all the right places to find the right content in the mess that is the internet and (d) they implement what they’ve learned without accountability. Not going to happen.

The Verdict – Most Training Doesn’t Work

The fact is, none of these really work well. Little of it truly moves the dial in terms of new business won or sustained BD habits. There is much evidence for this from all over the world – see here.

To develop the necessary mindset and skillset, the only plausible option is the BD Academy. Obviously you’d expect me to say this – it’s what we do. But honestly, having trained people for years with combinations of all of the above, none of it really developed confident, effective work winners. Short term buzz, yes. Great evaluations, yes. Sustainable revenue and ROI. Sadly no.

The BD Academy is just one thing –  an inhouse one year business development training program guaranteed to transform your people into confident, effective rainmakers and work winners. It’s the magic formula that delivers the right blend of accountability, world class training, the most up to date BD techniques the right level of inspiration and motivation, the perfect blend of supporting resources and the ongoing touch points to embed learning and guarantee implementation. For a chat to learn more, contact us.