It is important to stress to younger team members that it is crucial to begin business development early in their career. Younger employees cannot wait until becoming a partner to start on business development. There is no switch to flip and have business start flowing.
In order to build relationships, management must stress the significance of younger employees getting involved in associations that they enjoy and are passionate about. Management should emphasize the importance of younger staff joining smaller groups and participating on committees and boards within larger organizations. This helps build closer and longer lasting relationships; creating their own centers of influence (COIs) – i.e. other professionals that can be referral sources for them, COIs are like having raving fans that act as cheerleaders for you.
A rather simple concept to have employees embrace is that almost everyone needs professional services. Ensure that young team members help determine what will make the firm grow, survive and have them determine their involvement.
Seasoned partners and those engaged in growing the business know that business development is a twelve month a year activity. You cannot take the season off and then expect to start the spigot flowing again. It is like an old fashion pump -- it needs to be primed before the water flows. Stop pumping and you need to start all over.
In addition to taking new firm members on sales calls and introducing them at association events, we recommend authors and speakers that are helpful in providing motivation and ideas that are influential in developing business.
Below are some authors and speakers that provide excellent business development advice that many professionals have found useful:
- KC Truby, known for his books and presentations to entrepreneurs, was a favorite early on. KC drew a triangle on the board with 3 lines across it. In the top section he placed an A, next section a B, then C and D in the next two below. His point was to focus on client selectivity -- A and B clients are normally more sophisticated. While they might be more intense to work with they provide more reward, appreciate your services and will have A and B friends for referrals; in contrast, C and D clients generally have C and D referrals.
- Author, Stanley Thomas lays out the details to become the recognized expert. In following his advice, we have had success working with trade associations and sharing our expertise with service members. This may be as simple as being available for questions or more involved by writing articles and speaking to groups. Although many individuals are uncomfortable writing and speaking in public; both provide measurable rewards and help enhance oneself as the expert in the field or as a trusted resource.
- In his book, Fearless Referrals, Matt Anderson, reinforces the techniques of asking for referrals. Matt believes in order to get more referral business, one needs to continually “practice”. He emphasizes by proactively improving your referral skills one can overcome inherent fears. Always ask for referrals based upon the value you are bring to your client. In other words, who can they refer that will benefit from your services.
- Steven Covey is probably my favorite author; his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, has guided how I interact in most of my relationships. His theory “to begin with an end in mind” requires careful listening and understanding of client and prospect goals. With a clear understanding, you can help fashion a plan to help achieve their goals.