Proactively Influence Business Development Through Reciprocation…

One of the most significant opportunities to proactively influence business development is reciprocation. The rule of reciprocation states that people repay, equally and often more, what another person has provided them. By virtue, we are obligated to the future repayment of favors, gifts, invitations, and professional and business opportunities. There is no human society that does not subscribe to the rule. There is global understanding of reciprocation.

Find ways to be helpful in business situations, especially to prospective client organizations. Simple acts of giving – emailing relevant and interesting information, sponsoring an event, or volunteering within a professional organization – set you up for receiving. Studies indicate people who give first are more than twice as successful as those who don’t.

  • The rule is overpowering: Consider free samples at the grocery store. As a marketing tactic, free samples work. While it is a gift, it is also setting the product up for reciprocity – many people find it difficult to accept a sample without buying the product. Where in your business can you give a sample?
  • The rule enforces uninvited debts: You can trigger a feeling of indebtedness by performing an uninvited favor. I would caution that you don’t overuse this, however – people may start to question your intent and trustworthiness.
  • The rule can trigger unfair exchanges: A small initial favor can produce a substantially larger return favor. This works well for business developers – because it illustrates you don’t need to give big/equal – but rather give purposefully/meaningfully.

Give as much as you can, take only what you need. Go Grow!

(this blog post was inspired from reading The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini)

Focus on Your Culture…

“You’ve got to have trust. You’ve got to have a team – a leadership team that you as the leader of the organization – can trust – and they have to be able to trust you – and they have to trust each other. When you’ve got trust, it means you can have difficult conversations, you can be honest with each other and I would call that internal cohesion; for me that is the first requirement [in building a high performance organization]. But the second requirement, which to me is just as important, is to focus on the culture of the organization. Your culture will define your success. Cultural capitalism is the new frontier of competitive advantage. When you’ve got people who can work together, in an open and authentic way, with integrity and trust, you will find you will be able to create a high-performance organization.” Barrett Values Center’s Richard Barrett

Your organizational culture also helps to differentiate you in your market-place. Spend time looking from the “outside in” to see how your team operates and how you are being perceived in the eyes of your clients. Then emphasize the positives and course-correct the negatives as you market and develop new business opportunities for your company.

Focus on the Prospect When Selling Your Service…

When hiring a new professional service provider, there are distinct phases a potential client moves through. Each phase has its own unique set of feelings and thoughts. Many professional service providers think selling their services entails showing up with Statement of Qualifications or a portfolio of their past work, and presenting other clients’ projects. When shortlisted for a project, you might show up at interviews, by again, showcasing your past successes with other clients. Unfortunately, both of these examples only demonstrate that there’s a lack of understanding of what is going on in our clients’ minds. By all means, your prospective client wants to learn about your past experience and successes. They want to understand your process and they want to meet your team. But, they want to see how it all relates to them, their organization, and their project at hand – how you can help them. Even in initial conversations and meetings, relate your experience to them. As you move into further phases of the selling process, build the conversation in a way that is more investigative and about them – and less about you and your past successes.

Ask good questions and have a conversation rather than a presentation. A few…

  1. Tell me about your department.
  2. How are you structured?
  3. How many employees, their roles?
  4. Who have you used externally?
  5. Who are you working with right now, and how is that working for you?
  6. What do you appreciate the most from your (insert your service here)?
  7. Who do you report to? How is that relationship?
  8. How is your department perceived in your organization?
  9. Are you working from a budget and plan?
  10. How are you currently implementing?
  11. What are you working on currently and what is coming up?
  12. Tell me about your organization, your culture, your leadership.
  13. Etc. etc. etc.

As you get deeper into the selling process, your questions will become more focused, more specific to the client and their issues and project at hand. Go grow!

Being smart about who you pursue as a client…

Have you ever spent years making considerable effort to work with a new client only to find that they are absolutely horrid to work with? They mistreat your team, they are non-responsive, they don’t pay on time, or they simply are not a good fit for your firm.

Are there effective ways to find out about this kind of information before you invest the time to cultivate the client? It would be a worthy exercise to work through. Take the time to define the ideal client traits and characteristics, as well as the real deal breakers, and you will become more efficient in your abilities to “qualify” your prospective clients as ones to pursue.

How a prospective client treats you when you are pokies online trying to initiate a relationship can be very telling about how you”ll be treated in an engagement. Look for the traits you seek – openness, responsiveness, clear communication. I value responsiveness and refuse to work with clients who are not responsive – and look for this during my own cultivation process. Notice whether the prospective client introduces you to key people within their organization. Are you being introduced to key members of their team? Bring your junior teammates with you to introductory meetings to evaluate how the client interacts with them. Are they open or dismissive? Evaluate whether these folks are people you want to work with on a day-to-day basis. Find out from others who work with the client if the client pays on time, if they make price-based selections, if their business and work values match your company values. Then take the time to identify the deal breakers. We won”t work with clients who (fill in the blank). Go Grow!

Five Points on Competitive Strategy…

This is worth reposting (I posted this over a year ago – with a great photo!), especially as many organizations are beginning annual planning for 2013…

  • Think-time. Great strategy requires thought. Thought requires setting aside time for inspiration, conversation, and debate.
  • Focus. Competitive firms have a strong, clear identity across the whole organization.
  • Growth. In terms of higher quality staff, more important projects, wider geographic coverage, increased fees, and size.
  • Promoters. Firm leaders set strategy. Leaders who promote the strategic plan get more effective results.
  • Collaborative Participation. When you involve your people, they commit to your goals, energizing and unifying your efforts.

For 2012 or 2011 – what did you say you would do, but haven’t yet? Many firm leaders tell me they want to focus more on new business development – growth in a specific service offering or geographic region – but they simply never get around to doing it themselves. I work with several firms on a long-term, contract basis providing new business development support for them….we THINK, FOCUS, GROW, PROMOTE, and COLLABORATE across their organization – working together to implement and achieve their growth goals. It’s more economical and efficient – and by engaging me, they are more dedicated, committed, and focused on what they have known they needed to do but kept putting off. If you are interested in talking about this, feel free to reach out.

Definitely – Go Grow!

Build key relationships across your whole organization…

We are all pressed for time, but with a little planning and prioritizing, building and nurturing key relationships becomes SIMPLE.

By categorizing your existing contacts, you can clearly identify those most relevant to your overall business goals, and prioritize your time and effort accordingly. Set up a system (hopefully electronic…) where you set reminders to stay in touch with your key contacts. Microsoft or Google Task Lists are super simple electronic reminder tools. Initially, your task list may be short, with a few key contacts – but make it a goal to grow your list online casino so that you are reaching out to several key contacts every day.

At least annually, review your entire contact database. For each contact, ask yourself:

  • When was our last correspondence?
  • Is this person still with this company, at this location, and within the same role?
  • Is this person relevant to my goals and objectives and am I relevant to theirs?
  • Is this a relationship I need to prioritize?

Go a step further, and encourage each team or sector leader within your organization to sit down together and connect relationship dots across the whole company. Share knowledge and leverage relationships and significantly improve your chances of reaping additional revenue from existing clients.

Additionally, continually expand your network by getting involved in diverse projects, teams, and organizations. Proactively seek out new relationships with people who are in different areas of business and offer a different focus and perspective. Share your goals and objectives, share and solicit best practices, and cultivate a value-based relationship.

I”ve developed several concise marketing and business development workshops where I facilitate a discussion/planning session with your team or organization. Reach out if you are interested in learning more.

Is the life you’re leading worth the price you’re paying to live it…

I was inspired to write this after re-reading several passages in: The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working by Tony Schwartz.

Are you eager and excited to get to work – eager and excited to work with your team members and your current clients? Do you work with a clear sense of purpose? Do you seek out specific new clients because you WANT to work with them, not because you NEED the work they have to offer?

“Most of us work long hours and feel a relentless sense of urgency. We juggle multiple demands without feeling we’re devoting sufficient time to the most important tasks. We arrive home in the evenings with little energy left for our families. We spend too little time thinking strategically and long term, too little time taking care of ourselves, and too little time simply enjoying our lives.”  – Tony Schwartz

Are you stopping long enough to examine the benefits and costs of the choices you are making?

“Clarifying and deepening our values through regular reflection is the antidote to a narrow, shallow, short-term perspective. Reflection requires quiet, uninterrupted time, the scarcest of commodities in the world most of us inhabit. We rarely step back to think about why we’re doing what we are doing, where we’re headed, or what the consequences are likely to be. Instead, most of us spend our days feeling compelled to act, react, and transact. We’re unwilling to stop moving, at least partly out of fear of what we might see – or see is missing. It’s easier, oddly, to stay busy.” – Tony Schwartz

Why do I write about this…..because clarifying and deepening your values – personally and company-wide….truly matters if you are trying to grow your company. You’ve got to love what you do, you’ve got to love your team and your clients. This passion is magnetic and transparent. Companies  and teams who have this – are automatically well-positioned for growth.

Go Grow!

Attachment, Ego, Control, and Complacency…

Be a star at reinventing your company and your service offering through continual innovation…

Gwen Moran’s complete post at Entrepreneur – Four Rules for Innovative Leadership.

1. Forget yesterday’s breadwinner.

2. Check your ego at the door.

3. Don’t be a control freak.

4. Never accept the status quo.

How to think about the competition…

Ron Johnson – former Apple Store guru – now CEO of JCPenney…. “Our number one competitor is ourselves. It”s our ability to change. And the way you unlock potential is to find a new way to compete, ideally in a way that”s never been done before, so it”s seen as new. For decades, department stores were organized to have a center core of cosmetics, jewelry, and women”s handbags. We”re going to have something new called Town Square. It”s a series of 80 to 100 casino online shops. Department stores have been limited intellectually by their traditional categories of home and apparel. We can put in whatever shops we want. It liberates you to do what”s relevant to people in their lives.”

“Our number two competitor is everyone else.”

Where have you been limiting or preventing your own company”s potential and growth. Change for change-sake may not be good – but change for evolving/growing/prospering may be very good.

Go Grow!

To Increase Revenue, Stop Selling….

Absolutely, hands-down excellent post by Mike Myatt at Forbes.

“Engage me, communicate with me, add value to my business, solve my problems, create opportunity for me, educate me, inform me, but don’t try and sell me – it won’t work. An attempt to sell me insults my intelligence and wastes my time. Think about it; do you like to be sold? News flash – nobody does. Now ask yourself this question, do you like to be helped? Most reasonable people do. The difference between the two positions while subtle, are very meaningful and powerful.” Check out his full post: To Increase Revenue Stop Selling at Forbes.com.

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