Longer Term Business Development…

Professional service firms often emphasize creating leads now.  Short-term leads aren’t always the best leads. These short-terms prospects have typically been working with another firm for many months, and are ready to buy their services. If you call these prospects, you may be brought into the process, and you may get lucky…but the other firm has dedicated the time and effort to position themselves to win the work. You may appear opportunistic-centric rather than relationship-centric. You may end up simply being a price check.

Most professional services are not bought on impulse. Place a higher priority on generating and nurturing long-term leads. Long-term lead generation takes a “long” time – often 2-4 years. Create a strong list of prospective clients, and use a variety of marketing and business development tactics to progressively show your genuine interest in these people and their business. Simultaneously, build trust and rapport so that your prospects begin to understand your skills, capabilities, and experience.

Incorporate long-term lead generation and nurturing into your business development process, and realize, albeit over a period of time, dramatic growth within your company.

Ten Major Causes of Failure – How Many of These Are Holding You Back…

Inspired from: Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

Life’s greatest tragedy consists of men and women who earnestly try, and fail! The tragedy lies in the overwhelmingly large majority of people who fail, as compared to the few who succeed….and even more tragic are the scores of individuals who don’t, after a failure, pick themselves back up, dust themselves off, and try again!

As you review this list, check yourself by it, point by point, for the purpose of discovering how many of these causes-of-failure stand between you and success.

  1. Lack of a well-defined purpose in life.
  2. Lack of ambition to aim above mediocrity.
  3. Insufficient education.
  4. Lack of self-discipline.
  5. Ill health.
  6. Unfavorable environmental influences.
  7. Procrastination.
  8. Lack of persistence.
  9. Negative personality.
  10. Lack of making decisions promptly.

We are entering a new year – 2017. Look at these causes of failure. YOU have the power to control, direct, and navigate yourself away from these pitfalls and towards your success. None of these are in anyone else’s hands except your own. Take responsibility for your happiness and success in 2017 and beyond. Go Grow!

Adaptive Innovation…

Adaptive innovation increases growth – sales growth, operating income growth, market growth, profit growth – etc. Adaptive innovation is about doing things differently and requires a relationship-centric culture with the courage to fail and learn from those failures. It’s often fueled by those at the edge of the business, often closest to the voice of the customer – sales, client-relationship management. It is not about imitating the strategies of others or through traditional value add….but shaping your organization’s own destiny. Innovation is a process with multiple enablers, contributors, and positive components. For example, a single ad never works. Advertising (especially in B2B) just contributes to the noise. When you innovate, the market seeks you out.

Adaptively innovate…go grow!

Don’t Make Assumptions…Ask Questions….Get Clarification…

Inspired by “The Four Agreements”

We have the tendency to make assumptions about everything. I hear this in business all the time – “we lost because our fee was too high, too low, politics, they didn’t like us” … yada yada yada. The problem with making assumptions is that we believe they are the truth. We could swear they are real. We make assumptions about what others are doing or thinking – we take it personally – then we blame them and react – almost always negatively. That is why when we make assumptions, we are asking for problems. We make an assumption, we misunderstand, we take it personally, and we end up creating a whole big drama for nothing.

Because we are afraid to ask for clarification, we make assumptions, and believe we are right about the assumptions; then we defend our assumptions and try to make someone else wrong.

We only see what we want to see, and hear what we want to hear. We don’t perceive things the way they are. Our minds want answers. Our mind will not rest until we put the puzzle together and have an answer – even if the answer is false.

If others tell us something, we make assumptions, and if they don’t tell us something we make assumptions to fulfill our need to know and to replace the need to communicate.

The way to keep yourself from making assumptions is to ask questions. It is always better to ask questions than make an assumption. If you don’t understand, ask. Have the courage to ask questions until you are clear as you can be, and even then do not assume you know all there is to know about a given situation.

With clear communication, all of your relationships will change.

How Are Yoga and Business Development Connected?…

Many people ask me, “why are you focused on two so seemingly different concentrations?”

Business Development Strategy and Implementation and Yoga?

Most businesses want to grow but are stuck in negative patterns that don’t serve them. Many have a lot of ideas about how to grow, but they get stuck figuring out how to implement the ideas, or track the ROI, or stay disciplined in the execution, or be good team-mates. Many professionals have negative mind chatter about their individual capabilities or their organizations capabilities/strengths. Many people quite simply don’t know how to talk about themselves or their organizations in ways that resonate with who they are trying to sell to. I could go on an on about where and how people and businesses get stuck.

Most people view yoga as solely physical postures, or a way to get flexible. Sure, one of the eight limbs of yoga is Asana – physical postures. One of eight.

Yoga is really a way of life. It’s a life practice. It’s beautiful and I hope more people get a glimpse of it’s true essence.

My areas of concentration are perfectly related. I could not do what I do for my (biz dev) clients without a strong, disciplined yoga practice. Yoga allows me to see more clearly at the root level.

It’s easy for me to see opportunities and challenges – but it’s only because of my yoga practice. Similarly, through practicing and teaching yoga, I can read anyone like a book. Your body doesn’t lie. The more aware, open, focused, flexible, disciplined, intuitive you are, the more you can see true opportunities of how to better develop your business to serve your clients. Mind chatter slows down, intuition unfolds. Weed out what doesn’t serve you. Surrender to what’s possible.

Go do yoga – and Go Grow!

 

7 Things Successful People Never Do…

Inspired by a post from Lolly Daskal, President & CEO, Lead from Within

What differentiates those who are successful from those who are not? It’s a matter of habits. In business and in life, if you truly want to succeed, there are some habits that work and there are other habits that never should be repeated. Here are seven habits that are worth eliminating:

  1. Believing you can please everyone. Stay open, flexible, collaborative, and seek win-wins – of course. But it’s absolutely impossible to please everyone. Don’t waste your energy even trying.
  2. Repeating what didn’t work the first time. Realize mistakes are for learning, not repeating.
  3. Accepting short-term contentment over long-term value. Good things take time. Stay focused on the long-term and take steps every day to get there, rather than letting the “shiny new toy affect” steal your attention.
  4. Compromising your true self to fit in. Know and trust who you are, and never adjust yourself for others. You will not fit in everywhere and with everyone – but who cares. It’s more important to be and stand grounded in your authentic self.
  5. Trusting something that looks too good to be true. Do your own due diligence to determine the actual value.
  6. Taking your eyes off your vision. Stay focused on your dreams, your vision, your goals. If you get out of alignment or if something distracts you, work to find your alignment again. Be meticulous and very disciplined about your focus.
  7. Disconnecting appearances and reality. Who you are on the inside should be reflected on the outside – the moment there is a disconnect – there will be dis-ease. When this disconnect happens, take a step back, pause, and get back in sync – inside and out.

Many people ask me about Yoga and Business Development Consulting – why the two so seemingly different concentrations – it’s actually perfectly related and connected. I’ll be talking more about that connection in upcoming posts.

Go grow!

Persistence Pays…

Inspired from Author Napoleon Hill….and a few other folks!

Persistence Amy Johnson OrganicabrandLack of persistence is a weakness common to business developers and professional services firms. It is a weakness that can be overcome by consistent effort. Conquering lack of persistence is fully dependent upon the intensity of the person or organization’s desire to reach their goal(s). Weak desires bring weak results, just as a small amount of fire makes a small amount of heat.

If you find yourself or your organization lacking in persistence, build a stronger fire under your desires. Annual planning helps – set simple and clear objectives, goals, and take consistent and persistent action. Keep looking at your goals, keep taking action toward those goals.

You may find it necessary to “snap” out of your mental inertia. Be persistent no matter how slowly you may, at first, have to move. With persistence will come success. There is no substitute for persistence. It cannot be supplanted by any other quality. Those who have cultivated the habit of persistence seem to enjoy insurance against failure. No matter how many times they are defeated, they continue to pick themselves up after each setback and keep on trying. They receive, as their compensation, attaining whatever goal they are pursuing. Without persistence, you will be defeated, even before you start. With persistence, you will win.

Go Grow!

 

Why Follow Up On Proposals and Fee Quotes…

After months and months of asking a client to follow up on a fee proposal we had sent out through my client’s firm, I decided to call the prospective client myself. I had talked with the prospect initially so it wasn’t entirely odd for me to follow up. Unfortunately, the prospect had already hired a different firm several months prior and questioned why we hadn’t stayed in touch. He didn’t think we were interested in the project because we never called to follow up. Hmmm.

I recently read a statistic that blew me away. By following up on your fee proposals and quotes (in a timely manner), you will increase your win rate as much as 20%. Prospects are often “on the fence” about who to hire – and if you follow up on your proposals and show some additional interest – this often (apparently) tips the scale in your favor.

What would it look like if you were able to increase your win rate by even 5-10% – just by following up in a timely manner on the fee proposals you spend so much time preparing?

What kind of effort does it take to pick up the phone or resend the email – and touch base and follow up?

This is LOW HANGING FRUIT….isn’t it? Tighten your process by a smidge – Follow up on your proposals and fee quotes. Go Grow!

 

Shifting the Vetting – To Your Prospect…

David Baker consults with ad agencies and graphic designers – and his message is easily relatable to architectural and those in the A/E/C world.

 

http://www.recourses.com/shifting-the-vetting-to-your-prospect

Most of you would like a prospect–in the early stages–to assume that working with you will be a fit. Then you want the opportunity to move them along during the sales process until the check clears. You don’t want them making any early decisions on their own, deciding that it’s not a good fit, possibly, and looking for a different firm to work with.

We know this is true by looking at your website, which is welcoming, friendly, and sometimes full of those faux tests that help a prospect determine the fit. “Here, take this four question test and see if we should work together: First, do you want a true partnership. Second, do you want good value for your money. Third, do you want quick results. Fourth, do you want lasting results.” And then, after a drum roll, they learn that it’s a good fit! Surprise, surprise.

 

Why You Should Help Prospects Vet Themselves

Your website should help a prospect make an honest decision about whether it’s a good fit to work with you, and they should do this on their own, before they ever talk to you, for these two reasons:

  1. They will be more honest than you will. You cannot be trusted to not compromise when you smell opportunity. This is why you might encourage your teenager to describe an ideal mate before they meet that person; otherwise the list looks suspiciously like the person they just met.
  2. It will save you time. One of the biggest dangers in business development is wasting time chasing prospective clients who are just kicking the tires, and in the new business process there’s one thing that you are always seeking at all costs, and that’s the truth. In this context, data is always your friend. So if the new relationship is not meant to be, the sooner you find that out the better.

 

How Your Prospects Can Vet Themselves

If you agree with these two reasons and want to help your prospects determine a fit on their own, it’s going to take some courage on your part. If the process is going to be meaningful, some prospects are never going to contact you and you’ll have to be okay with that. This aligns with the notion that sales isn’t about convincing or manipulating a prospect, and it assumes that you are offering something valuable and worthy and for which there are few viable substitutes.

There are many things you can talk about to help prospects do this, but some are difficult to express well. In the end, you probably should stick with just a few, and here are the most useful ones.

  • Explain what size the first project would be, ideally, and how that number fits into the larger relationship you want with the client. Your reasoning is because relationships of this scale allow you to be effective and profitable.
  • Describe the typical mix between strategy and implementation in your work. Must you do strategy at the outset or would you go straight to implementation to get a foot in the door and then swim upstream later.
  • What payment terms work well for you. If you require a significant portion of the fee at the outset, explain why you’ve come to that policy.
  • You’d word these in your own, friendly way and then relax instead of thinking that selling is a fragile process. You’re in the expertise business and not the service business.

Sliver Perspective…

Often, we get so wrapped up in our own world, we forget that our thoughts, our feelings, and our perspective is just that – it’s a sliver perspective – not necessarily shared by anyone else. It may be our reality, but it isn’t everyone’s reality. In business and sales, be mindful of this. Don’t be too strong with your ideas and come across as if your perspective is THE RIGHT and ONLY way. Share your perspective as simply that. Share your observation as that. Clarify communication to gain better understanding. Ask good questions. Try to step into other people’s shoes to see their perspective. Collaborate. Exchange open and flexible dialogue to arrive at an optimal place for the organization you are working with or trying to sell to, etc. Go Grow!

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