Another year…and another set of business development challenges. It may be increasingly a ‘given’ that BD is important to everyone, but there are still common gaps between aspiration and reality that have to be bridged. Individuals at all levels can benefit from some simple actions that will contribute significantly to their proficiency and achievement. We’ve identified three below from our experience. There are more – so next time we’ll offer up three more for your consideration.
Get the picture(s)
There are a number of pictures here. The big picture is a firm’s overall direction and strategy: if they don’t exist then nobody should be surprised if professionals (and other ‘actors’) are heading in all manner of unproductive pathways and dead-ends. If they do, then individuals need to ask themselves “are my efforts being targeted properly?” – and it is the responsibility of the firm’s practice and other leaders to ensure that this alignment is happening by engaging with their people.
At more micro levels, professionals can struggle to get their business development activities in perspective. Sometimes, this is because they have no specific goals to achieve. Elsewhere or in addition, they underestimate the size of the active contact base and legwork that is required to achieve new client or customer wins. It doesn’t happen without consistent effort. In all this and more, they often need help…..
Get a mentor
This is “It can be a lonely business part 1”. Quite a number of professionals we meet do not feel they are “natural” business developers: they didn’t get where they are today by doing it, it wasn’t what they signed up for etc. For them, it can feel like a pretty solitary place to be. But it’s what you do about this that is the key.
Certain individuals we know have actively sought out (the firm’s) good BD professionals and asked for their help or advice. That often works. Recognising the need, some firms set up and run their own mentoring or coaching programmes that formalise and organise such activity; others invest in specialist outside help to achieve the same goal. Both of these can work too. But whichever method you choose, if there is a clearly-recognised demand, the biggest crime is to do nothing.
Get a buddy
And here is “It can be a lonely business part 2”. On a day-to-day level, we have observed a more productive and enjoyable time to be had when going about their business development activities (networking, conferences, seminars etc.) for professionals – particularly less experienced ones – who team up. That doesn’t mean that they hang out together rather than get the BD work done. It does means that they use each other for assistance, advice, support, and learning on the job. If they get on, it can work very well. And it makes the task much less of a lonely one.