…One of my favorite quotes from my former boss and National Sales Leader at Deloitte, Tom Lutz.
Even though Tom sees talent and experience as important attributes to be successful in growing a business, he always falls back to the most important work habit – staying consistently active in the market.
This basic rule of thumb seems simple, yet why is it hard for professionals to follow? Why do so many talented professionals fall into the “best-kept secret” category?
Is it laziness? Perhaps lack of BD know-how? Or the one I often hear - “I’m too busy taking care of clients to be doing business development?” Ah, the last one is a classic! A convenient built-in excuse to avoid business development for extended periods of time.
I believe professionals enter this “witness protection program” due to a combination of all the above. Many would prefer to follow the old-school work philosophy “do good work and more work will follow.” This may work for a small percentage of professionals, yet this is not enough for most in today’s competitive market. Doing good work goes without saying. That is table stakes. Staying top of mind on a consistent basis is what separates the successful professionals from the struggling ones.
So how can you get into a better habit of staying active in the market? Here are a few suggestions.
Invest small chunks of business development time daily.
Instead of trying to carve out an hour or longer for business development, consider committing to less time, but try to do it daily. Many of my clients have found that investing 15 minutes a day of BD activity at the beginning of their workday is far more effective than trying to squeeze in an hour during the middle of the day.
Spend more time on social media.
Whether it is on LinkedIn, Twitter, or even Facebook, investing the time on social media can pay off in the long run. It is about getting your face and name out into the marketplace. You do not need to come up with your own content all the time. Liking, Commenting, and Sharing is better than no activity at all. The key is to spend time on social media at least 3-4 times per week. Tip – look for associations for you to follow. It will provide you much more interesting content to like, comment on, or share.
Do a 30-day trial of concentrated effort.
See how much you can add to your pipeline in a 30-day period. Working with a physical therapist to rehab an injury over a concentrated period can work wonders toward a quicker recovery. The same goes for business development. You will be amazed at how many more opportunities you can create by focusing daily on business development over a relatively short period.
A great way to get into this routine is to commit to the 4-Week Business Development Challenge that I posted last year. It is a straightforward daily activity that does not take up too much of your time.
Last week I had a wonderful catch-up conversation with Tom. He mentioned to me that his sales team is having a record year and should exceed $6.5B at Deloitte. A big part of their success is attributed to their continued focus on staying active in the marketplace. Whether it is through social media, Zoom calls, or in-person meetings, staying in regular contact with your clients, prospective clients, and referral sources are critical in building a healthy pipeline and ultimately a steady revenue stream.
If you are struggling with getting out of the blocks due to a lack of knowing the business development basics, reach out to a mentor, BD colleague, or an outside coach. This additional guidance can make your life and your business so much more enjoyable.