Thursday, July 10, 2014

Identify Your Business Development Champions

The Business Development resource that you depend on the most is:

a) Our firm’s BD Plan, because without it, we don’t have direction
b) Our existing client base, because PSMJ survey data show that 80 percent of our work comes from these valued clients
c) Our BD director, because he helps us win the large multi-year contracts
d) None of the above

The answer?  None of the above. Why? Your best resource is the group of people in your firm who “get it” when it comes to BD.

Who are these people? They include your:

* Staff members who crave meetings and other interaction with clients 
* Receptionist
* Client-friendly project managers
* Most senior principal who maintains the most extensive client “rolodex” in your office

What do they do that makes them stand out? For example, they:

* Plan to attend conferences frequently, but the technical knowledge they will gain is only a part of why they go. 
* Assess which clients (or targets) will be there, who will be presenting papers, who will be chairing a technical session, and who will be exhibiting—all before signing up.
* Plan (and confirm!) dinners with clients and prospects before the conference. 
* Know that your business runs on profit.  (And to make a profit, you have to have a constant stream of work, preferably from high-quality clients who value your services and your people.)
* Maintain a “wish list” of future prospects, while working hard to maintain existing relationships and to take budding ones to the next level.

How do you identify and nurture them? 
There is, unfortunately, no simple answer.  But you should consider these two steps:

1. Watch how staff members conduct business on a day-to-day basis. How they:

* Plan conference attendance. 
* Interact with existing clients. 
* Select strategic targets and nurture the relationships.  
* Solve the problem a client is facing with the firm, and strengthen the relationship

2. Watch for success. Look for people who:
* Consistently have clients who want to work with them. 
* Always seem to have more work than they (or their department) can perform. 
* Will delegate tasks but retain overall responsibility (because they do not want to disappoint a key client with a single deliverable that does not meet expectations!)

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