When I look at the curriculum of ‘high potential’ programmes in many firms, I can get rather hot under the collar. You may wonder why? Well, they seem to have (at worst) forgotten the fact that their future partners need the skills to win work. Either that or the quality of the business development training provided is woeful and stuck in the 1990s. These are some of the business development lies that partners in firms tell their staff about how to start winning work…
1. You just need to get your name ‘out there’
Building your profile and reputation is so much more than getting your name ‘out there’. If you neglect some of the very important preparatory work, thinking about you, the services you offer, and the reason ‘why’ clients should work with you, your ‘getting your name out there’ will be pretty ineffectual. In Part 2 of The Go-To Expert, we help you do this thinking and help you to “package” yourself, and what you do, in a way which makes you irresistible to your future clients. It isn’t just about getting your name out there, it is making sure that you get it out in the right places. Far too many accountants, lawyers and consultants find themselves on the wrong networking scene, talking to the wrong sort of people. One of the best business decisions I ever did was to stop networking locally. There were just not enough of my target clients, or people well connected to my target clients to get results from the local networking scene. However, give me the opportunity to go to a gala dinner or conference of one of the accountancy institutes or the Law Society and I will bite your hand off for an invitation. (I know, I need to get out more!)
2. You can ignore online networking if you have a strong enough network of introducers
The problem is that regardless of how well stocked your little black book is, you will still find potential clients checking you out online before they make contact. If they can’t find you online – and they look further and deeper than just your website – they may not make contact at all. In fact the Hinge Research Institute found that 80% of buyers will check out your website and 60% will look at your online profile. Fail to provide a congruent and credible online presence above and beyond your website, and you WILL be missing out on potential leads. In chapter 4 of The Go-To Expert, we show you how to build a credible online footprint, so that it doesn’t matter whether you meet a client virtually or physically.
3. When you have enough clients/business you can stop marketing
In an ideal world, this would be the case. However, projects get cancelled, clients go bust… and very often the professions have long sales cycles. This means if your sales cycle, i.e the time from when you start your marketing to the time when new business is signed, is long, you need to keep the marketing ticking over month in, month out. If you are too busy to take on new clients you can then choose the clients you do want to take on, and ‘resign’ a few clients who are either a pain to deal with or unprofitable.
4. Good client advisers will always pick up more work from their clients
This isn’t always the case. After all, it is not your client’s responsibility to find you more work, either on their business or via a recommendation to another potential client. In fact I have many professionals, i.e. lawyers, accountants and consultants, who are absolutely great at servicing their clients, but lousy at identifying where there is more opportunity to generate work through their clients. Being able to spot opportunities for new business with an existing client is still a skill.