How to create a sales culture for professional services?

This topic has been “flavour of the year” for some time. It still is and you can see why.

In a survey by London Business School, when asked “How Good Are Professionals at Selling?” over 50% of client respondents replied ‘Poor’. Over 40% thought that the professionals they came across were getting worse at it, not better!  Now it was a while ago, but I reckon things haven’t changed that much.

Here are three things to consider that are one part of helping to reverse this trend and  forge a more productive, ‘sales’ culture for your firm.

Create the numbers…  Basic measurements, metrics, or whatever you want to call them can still be in short supply, if experience is anything to go by.

Without numbers, most Business Development programmes descend into motherhood, apple pie, and the lack of achievement that accompanies these.

Take a good look at the figures in your and others’ BD plans. How robust are they? Are they really SMARTER (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, Timed, Evaluated, and Reviewed)? Do they measure only inputs, only outputs, both or neither? It should be both.

…then make them stick  What gets measured and rewarded gets done. It’s quite simple, yet so frequently doesn’t happen.

Professional firms are masterful at measuring and rewarding client work to the nth degree: but try and find similar rigour for business development activity and you will often search in vain.

And it is not sufficient simply to have measures. It must be clear to everyone in the firm what they each have to achieve; they must be measured and held accountable (via appraisals and other systems); and it MUST make a meaningful difference to them if they do or don’t achieve.

Make success visible  “There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about”

Oscar Wilde could have been referring to professionals and their business development activities, couldn’t he? Despite the negative views expressed by some clients about selling expertise, we see many refreshing examples of BD success.

What we don’t see often enough is the intelligent exploitation of this best practice by playing it back in all its specifics to the firm, via excellent internal communications and all sorts of other ingenious means, to influence for the better and enhance the drip feed of professional peer pressure.