Tougher times have created a bigger impetus and desire for business development in many firms – both in the pro-active targeting of new clients and defensive hard yards to “protect what we’ve got”. However, the ability of some professionals to re-frame and re-orientate their time and efforts from an overweening ‘production’ or fee-earning emphasis can still be lacking.
Holding pattern, treading water, rabbit in the headlights – call it what you will, but change has to happen for these individuals. Here are three areas of exploration to help answer the question: “What should I be doing?”…and a free resource to help you generate ideas for implementation.
Plan your approach. Rather than bluff (and often worthless) exhortations to “get out there and sell”, a simple taking stock and priority-making is the most useful start-point for productive activity. This should focus on the three trusty planning precepts:
- Where Are You Now? (the current revenue/work position, constituents and health of your contact base, areas of strength, market-focused activities etc.)
- Where Do You Want To Be? (set targets for contact and business-generation, client type, internal/external mix etc.)
- How Will You Get There? (make a short-term action and achievement plan, with time frames, assistance/support required etc.).
A smart and varied mix. Part of your action plan should involve a range of marketing and business development activities focused on the key areas for development (e.g. external business sectors, key internal personnel).
At this stage, many professionals can have a quite narrow definition of what constitutes productive activity: basically lunch/entertainment and networking events. Whilst these are very useful, they are not the full story. From observation of best practice, we have totted up over 50 other (mostly external) contact marketing activities that work. If you would like to receive a free copy of this encyclopaedia, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Small chunks to make big ones. Proper planning and implementation is about realism and the avoidance of feast or famine. The latter can be typified by professionals who embark upon a furious campaign of business development activity that grinds to a halt the moment they become in any way “busy” with doing work.
What is usually required comprises a drip-feed of activities that does not, in itself, require large amounts of time but that adds up to a significant whole, so that even “busy” professionals can maintain it.
These are the so-called 1 per cents that sports coaches often tout as the main difference between success and failure.
James Newberry runs People Scope, a consultancy, interim, training and coaching firm working with lawyers, accountants and other specialists to help them operate successfully outside of their comfort zones. http://www.peoplescope.com.