Contract - September 2010 - (Page 30)

practice making rainmakers How to create a business development culture in your firm By Jane Felsen Gertler, CPSM, Helpern Architects Creating a business development culture in your firm means inciting an awareness that each individual plays a role in increasing the bottom line. It may take the form of charging each staff member with a task, role, or set of responsibilities that contribute to increasing client awareness. Or it can mean a more direct exposure to client contact for any number of individuals. However you choose to shape the parameters of your business development (BD) culture, there first has to be a “BD mind-set”—a buy-in of sorts where the firm clearly believes that this not only is the optimal way to function, but also it’s the way your firm will survive and thrive in today’s marketplace. And why should they embrace this model? In an economy where there are weekly, if not daily, surges and drops, one of the best ways to protect your job is to be a contributor to developing new business. If it becomes imperative to cut staff, it would be difficult for a principal to sever ties with one who is keeping the flame alive. In any economy, if it’s your desire to elevate to partner or principal, the task of bringing in business is usually a requirement. The ability to increase revenue is not only beneficial to your firm, but it’s also beneficial to your individual career. In an interview with the New York Times, Cristobal Conde, CEO of SunGuard says, “Always, along the way, have a sales job. Selling something to somebody who doesn’t want to buy is a life-long skill.” A key factor in marketing professional services and getting involved in business development is understanding that your character, your personality, and your ability to establish rapport are critical. When you purchase a designer dress, or a computer, or a car, you have no knowledge of the personalities of the people who worked to create these products. When your client commissions professional services, your firm’s qualifications may get you to the short list, but the personalities and reputations of your people win you the work. Unable to “t out” a service before buying it, clients do the next best thing: They imagine what it would be like to work with the person who delivers the service. Smart BD professionals learn what drives their clients and what their needs are, as opposed to focusing on their own individual needs and services offered. Fulfilling the needs of a new business “friend”—whether it’s solving a problem, sending them useful information, or introducing them to a key contact— helps build long-term relationships and referral driven business. Staff members need to grow comfortable venturing out of the office because even in this age of technology where we spend our day moving from screen to screen, nothing replaces the potential congeniality of person-to-person contact. To be prepared for that interaction, all business developers need to know their firm’s portfolio (as opposed to just the project they’re working on). Staff should be conversant in the services your firm provides and be armed with five good case studies of completed projects that are illustrative of its most significant services. They should be coached in your unique value proposition or what it is about your firm that sets you apart from the rest. For those at the dawn of your business development efforts, there are creative yet painless ways for you to get started that will enhance your client’s awareness of your capabilities. Target your client group, and: • E-mail a relevant news article to a client accompanied by a short, personal note. • Write an article useful to your client and place it in an industry newspaper. • Collect and harness the power of client testimonials; better still, create a client retention survey, and interview past clients on the quality of your firm’s performance • Speak at your local industry association or networking meeting. Committee program directors generally are hung for content. • Use social networking in a professionally responsible manner by developing guidelines for firm entries—then hit Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn with information consistently relevant to your clients. • Brainstorm a topic and create a workshop for your clients; or make it a lunch-and-learn in their office. • Promise to meet and engage three people you’ve never met before at your next networking opportunity. Then see if you can introduce them to someone beneficial to them. Critical to ongoing success and sustaining an energetic level of activity is the response of principals, partners, and marketers to the efforts of staff members as they progress in developing client relationships. It’s up to management to nurture these efforts and send a clear message that even small steps lead to positive gains and eventually larger rewards. Reinforce the positive strides and celebrate the victories together. 30 contract september 2010

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Contract - September 2010

Contract - September 2010
Editor's Note
Focus: Eye of the Beholder
Practice: Making Rainmakers
Classic Bach
Created Equal
The New Days of Ore
Barefoot Chic
Keep the Faith
Designers Rate
Process:_Laser Dissection
Ad Index

Contract - September 2010