Stay In Touch…

I work with a variety of architecture, engineering, and design firms on their business development strategy and implementation. While each client is different, with their own set of strengths, weaknesses, and cultural habits, there are several, reoccurring themes, that seem to present themselves that impact the firm’s business development efforts. One is consistency in staying in touch with key contacts. It baffles me how prevalent not staying in touch is.

I recently started working with a former client, who over the course of the three years of not working together, had lost touch with many of the firms very important prospects and clients. Obviously, when you don’t stay in touch with clients, you lose out on work with them. In a matter of 30 minutes, we reached out to two of the former clients via email and have reconnect meetings set with both. They were happy to hear from us. I anticipate my client will be working with both former clients soon.

I work with a different client who is very good at staying in touch. When clients leave their organization, we reach out to see if we can help them at their new organization. Often, we are delighted to get new work with a new client from a former contact. This client doesn’t have a big budget to be able to use tactics like sponsoring / attending conferences / hosting dinners, so we use phone and email – and it works brilliantly.

I work with yet another client who’s very hit/miss on staying in touch. Within our annual plan, we have a goal to send out 1 eBlast per month. Sometimes 4-5 months go by without any eBlast. The firm’s principals have weekly goals to call specific contacts – again sometimes months go by without any calls made. This up/down approach creates a feast/famine situation, and also indicates to prospects that the firm may be unreliable, inconsistent.

It’s important to put a process in place that helps you stay in touch consistently – maintain a CRM database with accurate phone numbers and email addresses. Send out periodic emails – eBlasts, individual emails, and call your prospects and clients to check in with them. Go visit with your clients over lunch or coffee, or at their office if you don’t have a big budget. Nowadays, clients are happy to have a brief Teams call to catch up. Set reminders to stay in touch.

Staying in touch is such a simple thing to do to maintain new work coming in the door.

Go Grow!

Using Referrals To Grow Your Firm…

Making use of referrals is an excellent way to open doors to new business opportunities. Sometimes when you cold-call, people don’t pay attention, and they don’t call you back. When someone can give you a warm introduction or when you can reach out to your prospect on your own and say someone referred or suggested you try for a meet/greet, you always get better results.

How do you get referrals? You consistently ask and do a good job at asking for referrals. You ask at the right time during a project. During business development meetings, consistently ask: “who do you know would be interested in knowing about us? Is anyone you are working with struggling with the services we provide? Can you give us a warm-introduction? When I reach out to this person, can I mention your name?

In order to make these asks, especially when you are first meeting someone, you have to be remarkable, you have to inspire confidence, and also give referrals to them. Share information.

Create a list of prospects that you want referrals to. When you find out someone in your network works with them, ask them for a referral. Thank them afterwards if it works out.

Be on the lookout to recommend your networking partners to people you work with. Warm-introduce and help people who help you open doors.

Treat your clients as partners. Treat your subs as partners. Treat your networking colleagues as partners. Stand out. Go Grow!

Dependability, Quality, Responsiveness, Listening, Understanding, Competence, Exceptionality…

Being Dependable – the quality of being able to be relied on. Do what you say you will do and do it well. How can my actions, and our teams’ actions, better indicate dependability for our clients and prospects?

Quality – the characteristic with respect to fineness, or grade of excellence. Of or having superior quality. Producing services of high quality or merit. How can my actions, and our teams’ actions, illustrate our attention to quality?

Being Responsive – taking action, especially readily and sympathetically to requests. In our client and prospective clients’ minds, are we being responsive? Have we set, and do we adhere to individual and organizational agreements on what it means to be responsive?

Listening – attend closely for the purpose of hearing. To pay attention. What does it mean to be a person and develop a team who listens well?

Understanding – to perceive what is meant, grasp the information conveyed, comprehend. Often, we think we understand, but we are misperceiving. What can we do to better understand, to find clarity, in what’s being conveyed to us?

Being Competent – having suitable or sufficient skill, knowledge, experience. Property qualified. Adequate but not exceptional.

Being Exceptional – unusually excellent; superior. How can we move from having competence to being exceptional, as individuals and as teams, for our organizations, our clients and prospective clients and broader communities?

Demonstrating Capability = Build Trust…

Trust is critical in selling professional services. All of us can improve our trustworthiness. We know we are trustworthy, but it’s rare for our prospects to trust us. Prospects are skeptical – they’ve been burned in the past, over-promised and under-delivered to time and time again. How do we help them trust us? Initially, to help build trust, we must demonstrate our capability. We can do this:

  • Be an expert. We have to know our stuff and their stuff. We have to understand our prospects business and what issues they are trying to solve for. Listen first, then respond by illustrating how our firm has the expertise to solve their problems.
  • Know our impact. If we want to excel at winning new clients, we have to know and demonstrate our impact. It’s similar to creating a return on investment – If you do this with our firm, this is the outcome. Or, with us, you achieve A, B, C. We have to be prepared to discuss what our prospects can expect to achieve. We also have to be honest with them about timelines, our true capabilities, etc. Many prospects are unrealistic in expectations – we build trust when we tell them their goals are unachievable in the time frame or budget allotted. If we can fully explain how our firm can positively impact the prospect, they will begin to trust us.
  • Build a shared vision. When a prospect shares where he is now, and where he is trying to go, it is our opportunity to create a path forward with solutions to his problems. We are beginning to build a shared vision of working together to solve problems for the prospective client.

Demonstrating capability is one first step in creating trust.

Reflecting Clearly…

We’ve all seen our reflections in a mirror that distorts our image. Our body is super long or wide or much shorter than we actually are. We don’t want to be like a mirror that distorts reality. We want to be able to reflect reality like the still water on a mountain lake. We often don’t reflect things clearly, and we suffer because of our wrong perceptions. When we see things or listen to others, we often don’t see clearly or really listen. We see and hear through our own kaleidoscope of preconceived opinions and project those, distorting reality even further.

We need to make our internal water still if we want to receive reality as it is and be able to reflect clearly. If we are agitated or anxious or our minds are racing to get things done, we should work to become still again. Let the feeling that will distort reality pass. Breathe in and out until we are calm again and then we can reengage in the conversation and actually see clearly and really listen. Stillness of mind is the foundation of understanding and insight. Stillness of mind is strength.

Inspired by reading Your True Home by Thich Nhat Hahn

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