How do you get to where you want to get to?
23 Nov 2018
Four in ten of Tenandahalf’s instructions are to deliver Business Development (BD) training. Clients feel that this training investment will give their fee earners more confidence, focus and energy and will sharpen their soft skills so they generate better results.
This training can take various forms depending on client’s needs and goals but typically it’ll be either group workshops or 1on1 coaching or both.
So, what are the key lessons we’ve learned while delivering these training programmes for lawyers, accountants, patent and trade mark attorneys and architects? And which are the lessons you can apply to your business immediately?
1. Build programmes around developing smarter habits
Have you ever wondered why diets don’t have any long lasting effect on weight management? Or why attendance at gyms drops off in February after New Year resolutions have lost their appeal?
People are creatures of habit and changing habits is hard to do. Sustainable change is effected by making small adjustments and teaching ourselves to do things differently. This requires a holistic, realistic and practical approach and also an understanding of human behaviour.
Improved performance is therefore more likely when training is delivered over a length of time and designed around small but regular interventions, e.g. bimonthly or quarterly workshops punctuated by 1on1 coaching.
Designed this way allows individuals, departments and firms to change behaviours gradually, adopting new skills that become habits and it’s habits that lead to better results.
2. It’s not all about networking
By far the most popular training enquiry is “how do we improve our fee earners’ networking skills?” and our answer is always to begin with the end in mind.
Assuming that the end point is new instructions, the Tenandahalf view is that networking (or more specifically traditional networking) is not always the smartest way to do this. The problem is that most of the conventional approaches to networking we see is more likely to put those fee earners in touch with competitors than with potential new clients!
You need to get creative. Start with creating a very clear picture of exactly who you want to attract as a new client – be specific and don’t rule out targets because you believe that a competitor owns this relationship (they almost certainly don’t).
The next step is to get creative and build a ‘murder wall’ to identify where your targets go (e.g. events and conferences), who they hang out with (i.e. other advisors), which trade bodies they belong to and which magazines and websites they read. This approach will result in more focused BD and will get you in front of new targets under the radar of your competition.
3. Match activity to personality, interests and skills
Why try to put square pegs into round holes? There are smarter many alternatives to traditional networking including:
- Giving talks at third party events
- Creating written content you can use to get published free of charge in the trade publications your clients actually read
- Networking (if it’s targeted)
- Business analysis (a criminally ignored block of the BD process)
This approach will not only ensure better outcomes, it will reduce your cost of sales.
Another benefit is that you will make your fee earners shine as people because people always come across better when they are doing what they are more comfortable doing.
4. Stop selling and drink coffee
BD is a process. To win instructions you need to build trust. To build trust you need to work through a number (5-9 depending on who you listen to) of steps. And be prepared - typically this will take weeks, months or in some cases even years.
So, for example, an initial step may be talking to a new contact at an event and trying to find some common ground. The second step might be a follow up email to arrange a coffee. The third step is the coffee conversation which is about exploring possible ways that you can help each other by sharing knowledge or making introductions – NOT BY SELLING! From there the fourth step might be a social invitation before working your way through more focused follow up conversations, delivering something ‘off the clock’ or getting an invitation to tender for work.
5. Follow up, follow up, follow up
In my opinion this is the single biggest failing of the professional services’ approach to business development. Persistence pays! If you send someone a follow up email after meeting them for the first time at an event and you get ‘radio silence’, don’t this means they’re not interested in continuing your conversation … try again a week or two later using a slightly different approach.
What have you learnt about designing and implementing BD training programmes? Please email me and my favourite ideas will feature in a future blog and the person that submits the idea will get a token which can be exchanged for a free workshop in 2018.
This blog was written by Bernard Savage, one half of Tenandahalf and the lead presenter in our BD workshops.
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