Monday, September 10, 2012

PSMJ Tips: 8 Secrets to Creating a Business Development Mindset in Your Firm

Principals of thriving firms realize that success doesn’t come only from them. It’s always because of the contributions of all staff; not just the leadership. However, the principals may not realize that their staff can also be an extraordinarily powerful component of bringing new work into the firm. That is done by sharing and celebrating the business development efforts of the principals, and making it clear that all staff are expected to assist in bringing work to the firm. Here are eight tips for building a business development mindset in your firm:

1. Consider incentives or spot bonuses to each staff person who suggests a potential opportunity.
• It doesn’t have to be a ton of money, even a $100 or $200 gift certificate is a motivator.
• Present the reward in a staff meeting and celebrate the person receiving it – that will take it most of the way in getting others on board.
• Ratchet up the amount if a person does it again and again, and then make them a principal.

2. Remind Staff to Pay Attention.
• Train staff to be magnets for information.
• Explain to them how to think about possible connections to future projects.
• Have them keep their antennas tuned to business development frequencies, listening for key words like new company, expansion needs, outgrowing space, etc.

3. Teach Business Speak.
• Get a couple of additional business journal subscriptions to be shared by staff.
• Have them write down 3 key points about the market or the economy and add them to daily conversations with clients & colleagues.

4. Become Trusted Advisors / Share What They Learn.
• Share articles of interest or quotes with clients.
• After conferences or seminars, share highlights with clients.
• Have staff explain the design process to help clients understand and better enjoy the design process.

5. Implement a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system.
• Same with Excel, ACT, Salesforce, or Oracle
• This will help to ensure that staff are properly acknowledged for their information and rewards.

6. Encourage staff to show small courtesies.
• Have them advise clients about upcoming events.
• Have staff send notes of thanks, and congratulations – hand-written if possible.
• Get staff to focus on remembering details of client’s lives, education, and family. A CRM system can help with this.
• Allow staff to send flowers or cards on special occasions, with clearly understood budget limits.

7. Don’t Intimidate.
• Encourage staff to speak in English more than “Architect.”
• De-mystify design.
• Be accessible, friendly, curious.

8. Be Where Clients Are.
• Budget for your staff to attend trade associations, specialty conferences.
• Encourage them to present at conferences, and be part of panel discussions.
• Educate staff to follow-up with contacts made at conferences.
Share with staff an overview of your business development activities. Don’t keep those efforts a secret. It’s not necessary to share details of potential clients or projects, but a weekly reminder will start to raise the bar. Employees can help sell, partly based on their regular contact with clients, vendors, and consultants, but they must communicate on the same wave-length as the principals, so create a storyline for the 30-second elevator speech. Drill it in to everyone by including portions of it in your conversation around the office.

For more vital information on how to effectivly approach business development, register for PSMJ’s Win Work Now: Three 1-Day Business Development Programs.This fall, PSMJ is providing 4 locations all across North America and Canada to give your whole firm the tools and confidence you need to succeed in bringing in more work for the firm. Register today!

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