Not many people say that business development is easy.
“It’s okay to be uncomfortable with business development. In fact, you need to be comfortable with the discomfort” said my former boss and colleague at Deloitte, Kerry F.
I was communicating with a pro cyclist who offered to donate one of his bikes to a non-profit high school mountain bike race league that I have supported the past 10 years. It was a wonderful gesture and simply required us to meet for the bike exchange. After a few text exchanges, he simply stopped communicating. No word since that initial communication and ultimately no bike for an underprivileged kid who would have really appreciated it.
I recently interviewed one of the top rainmakers at an 800+ attorney law firm for an upcoming article I plan to write on how professionals become rainmakers in the professional services world. He said that building a business is not about selling but rather caring. He added that if you truly care about your business relationships, demonstrate it.
As you plan for your business growth next year, how much energy are you focusing on finding GREAT clients rather than MORE clients?
Several professionals who I coached this past year dealt with too many PITA (Pain in the A$$) clients. These are new clients we’re eager to land because they initially look attractive but turn into a drain on time, energy, and margins. PITAs demand lower rates, complain on a regular basis, and never pay for additional work.
My father-in-law once told me that there are four major contributors to stress – moving, getting married, having a kid, and changing jobs. A few years ago, I managed to squeeze all four into one year. To make matters even more interesting, I was laid off from my prior employer.
I was speaking with one of my clients, Andrea, yesterday about whether she sends out handwritten thank-you cards during this time of year to her important clients and contacts. She replied “I don’t just do that. I make homemade toffee, fudge and cookies for my clients. It’s a pain in the butt, but still worth it.”
Recently I walked away mentally exhausted from a conversation with a gentleman who I met for the first time. I will call him Bob for the sake of this discussion. Bob was a nice guy, but his biggest problem was that the conversation was all about Bob. Don't get me wrong, Bob asked me questions about me, but I never got the feeling that he wanted to hear my answers. Often he would look away or look over my shoulder while I answered. I kept thinking to myself, "is he THAT bored with me already, or is he just easily distracted like my labrador, Jax?"
Most of you who are not dedicated business development professionals dread the business development part of your practice. The excuses I hear are endless as to why professionals conveniently avoid business development! "I have been buried in client work." "I tried but it didn't work." "I'll get to it next week." "I don't have the right personality for business development." The list goes on!
There are two key components of business development that professionals often take too lightly.
“Being organized is not a one-time event, it is a state that requires a sustained effort. An effort that is not such when you have absorbed it as a habit.” – Francisco Saez
How many times in your life have you cleaned up your garage, closet, or any other part of your life and found things that you forgot you had? For me, countless times.
Now think about your network of contacts. How many people do you know, with whom you have lost contact? For whatever reason, these are people who could be former clients, or prospective clients who have simply slipped through the cracks. Out of sight, out of mind. Many of them for years!