As we come to the end of a pretty good summer by British standards we have seen thousands more people taking to their bicycles, a victorious Andy Murray winning the Rogers Cup against Djokovic and many of our colleagues sporting healthy tans while keeping fit over the summer months.
Refreshed and invigorated, it’s come to the time to relaunch yourself and your services at your prospects this autumn. And I wonder whether your approach to prospecting will have been analysed in the same way that you have spent time on planning your holidays?
If your business development approach is going to be exactly the same as you tried before: attend the networking events… contact some people on LinkedIn… hope that somebody refers work to you…
Then you can’t very well expect to magically step up a gear and drive more interesting and profitable work with great clients can you?
I had cause to read David Maister’s excellent last book, Strategy and the fat smoker, and was once again impressed with the plain speaking honesty he uses. We like that honest approach, even when it hurts. Change is hard. People want the benefits, certainly, but don’t want the pain right now, thank you very much! I’d like to be fit, healthy with a flat six pack tomorrow, but I don’t want to go to the gym today…
So how do we make that kind of step change to our business development approach, without the need for a crisis to force change upon us, how can we make it exciting and fun in the same way we find planning our holidays?
We recommend a three step process:
1 Decide what you are really good at and focus exclusively on that. I know it seems like ignoring 80% of what you do and you will fail to tell your prospects how good at it you are, but let’s face it, they know you do accounting or law, tax and IHT. So just focus on what you do best of all.
2 What is it that clients buy when you do what you do so well for them? I’m willing to bet they can get that same service from almost any other professional. But they can’t get you, your team, your expertise. Remember, as Simon Sinek says so well, people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.
3 Dedicate specific time to business development. Quality time.
In over 20 years of working with professional service firms, the people most successful at business development are not those with the best elevator pitch, nor the ones who believe they’ve nailed their USP (if you’re actually lucky enough to have one!) but the people who do simple things consistently well.
Allocate protected time in your diary. When you’re on top of your game, whether that is first thing on a Monday or at four in the afternoon on Wednesdays. Do it every week so that it becomes a habit. That is when you do your business development, write your emails, draft articles, contact people, make phone calls, get in touch, give advice for free.
Go fishing and see what you can catch. Try different approaches. Many will fail, some more work. But every single one will expand your network and demonstrate your abilities.
So treat business development in the same way you might approach a new holiday destination and try new things, new approaches and meeting new people. And make sure you allocate dedicated time to do this on a regular basis so it becomes a habit and not just a new fad diet.
theGrogroup specialise in helping Professional Service Firms grow business results by optimising: strategy, talent, business performance and business development.