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

Let Go Of Negative Projections…

When we hold negative or inadequate images of people, it will negatively affect how we relate to them. In relationship, we don’t actually relate to another person. We are only ever relating to our internalized projections of others. I don’t say “hi” to you, I say “hi” to the person I think you are. Who I think you are impacts how I treat you and the kind of relationship we have. This is true of all relationships.

How Intentional Energy Impacts Others…

Inspired by reading: The Power of Intention, by Dr. Wayne Dyer

If our expectations for ourselves and our business center on being normal and status-quo, we attract more normal and ordinary. Our impact on others will also revolve around ordinary. Blah….boring! When we figure out what we really want for our life and business, and we focus our attention and actions keenly there, we’ll see a major difference in how other people react to us and how we can impact others. Our whole world opens and becomes magically alive.

When we operate with intentional energy:

  1. We impact others by instilling a state of calmness. People feel more at peace, less threatened, and more at ease – great gift to give others during these trying times. Think about it: when you are around people who are judgmental or hostile or depressed – it literally sucks. We empower people when we are energetically intentional – we help them feel safe rather than attacked, secure rather than judged, calm rather than harassed.
  2. We leave people feeling energized. Think about when you’ve attended an empowering key note speech or listened to a Ted Talk – we positively energize others by staying focused, present, and positive for our colleagues and teams.
  3. We help people feel better about themselves. I intend to be that kind of person. Compassionate energy has a noticeable pleasant impact on others. As we develop our connection to our intention, people sense that we care about them, understand them, and are interested in them as unique individuals. With this kind of connection to intention, we are less likely to focus conversations on ourselves and use others to massage our ego.
  4. Our presence instills a sense of purpose. When we operate from intentional energy, we bring something to others that’s inexplicable. Our presence and behavior of love, acceptance, nonjudgement, and kindness becomes a catalyst for others to live their own lives on purpose.

The higher our energy field resonates, the more we can impact others in a healing, positive way. We can only access this if we are intentional with our energy, purpose, words, actions, etc.

Simple Kindness…

Inspired by Dr. David Hawkins

Simple kindness to one’s self and to all living creatures is the most powerful transformational force. It produces no backlash, has no downside, and never leads to loss or despair. It increases one’s own true power, which always is in service to others, without exacting any toll. There can be no exceptions or exemptions. We strive for kindness to all. We cannot practice kindness with the hope or expectation for some selfish reward. We are simply kind in each moment, to ourselves and to every single person – and it’s effect is as far reaching as it is subtle.

I promise you will grow and your business will grow if you practice simple kindness! Be kind, go grow : )

Connect Emotionally With Your Prospective Clients…

Inspired from an article by Rain Today.

It’s important in all business situations to help people feel seen, valued, and understood.

Here are four areas to focus on to help your prospective clients feel good about buying from you:

  1. Connect – You want your prospective clients to know that you are on their side trying to help them. Be genuine and curious about them. Ask questions about their business needs and be interested in them personally. Build rapport and trust.
  2. Collaborate – Invest your time and attention into getting something done with and for them. Prospective clients want service providers to collaborate with them. They appreciate being involved and will buy from you over your competition if you engage them in the process.
  3. Respect – You want buyers to know they are important. Respect their role and any level of seniority, education, and expertise.
  4. Value – Prospective clients want to contribute to the buying process in a valuable way.

This is an illustration that Rain Today recently posted:

You have an incredible opportunity to help your prospective clients feel good throughout the buying process with you. Stay present and focus on connecting, collaborating, respecting, and valuing them as professionals and as individuals. Go Grow!

Are You Ripping Or Weaving The Fabric…

Inspired by reading David Brooks: “The Second Mountain”

If you are ripping the fabric, your business development efforts will not be effective. If you are weaving the fabric, you’ve got a better chance. So what the heck is this fabric? It is the people, organizations, beliefs that knit us together. Within our teams, individual organizations, industries, etc., we are granted the opportunity to be weavers instead of rippers. The fabric is not woven by leaders from above. It is woven at every level, through a million caring actions, from one person to another. It is woven by people fulfilling their roles as good teammates, colleagues, and partners.

When I treat another person as if he were an object, I’ve ripped the fabric. When I treat other person as an infinite soul, I have woven the fabric. When I lie, abuse, stereotype, or traumatize a person, I have ripped the fabric. When I see someone truly, and make them feel seen, understood, and known, I have woven the fabric. When I accuse someone of something without evidence, I have ripped the fabric. When I disagree without maligning motives, I have woven it. The fabric is created through an infinity of small moral acts, and it can be destroyed by a series of immoral ones.

Relationships do not scale. They have to be built one at a time, through patience and forbearance. But norms do scale. When we take the time to create caring relationships, and do so repeatedly in ways that get communicated to others, then norms are established. I ask you: what are you doing in your own personal and professional lives, within your team, within your organization, within your communities, to weave rather than rip our fabric? What are we building, moment by moment, choice by choice – to get to where we want to go: individually, as a team, as an organization, and an industry, and as a society?

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