Making Business Development Fun

Stu’s News
with Trina’s Tips



For many firms, and for a long time, new business would simply walk in.  New hires were simply assigned to projects … letting them do what they went to school to learn to do, and keeping utilization rates high and firms profitable.  Now, the marketplace is more turbulent and less new business is just walking in.

To bolster your marketing success, a broader cadre of people is helpful.  But the new people often have not had the training or coaching that senior people once had.  Many firm leaders have shared how a senior leader in their firm took them under their wing when they were new to the firm.  Took them to client meetings or had them support proposal efforts – talking them through what to do or not do, each step of the way.

Many firms have younger people who work on projects and, in the process, have established comfortable relationships with their clients.  Now those younger people can help firms bring in new business.  They’re motivated, as they’re more likely to be laid off in difficult times than senior people.  But they’re also just eager to learn how to bring in new business.  They actually crave it.  However, some support is needed …

  • Rename aspects of marketing to make them feel less threatening.  “Cold Calling” doesn’t sound like fun.  But doing “Market Research” to find out where clients may be headed over the next ten years, so your firm can adjust and be more responsive, feels more professional.
  • They have fear going into a new client’s office.  “Will I screw up and cost our firm this client?” “Will this client like me?” The best remedy – adapted from theater work – is “If you know your lines, you can really relax.” Experienced people need to walk younger people through each client meeting, step by step.  “If the client does this, then you need to do …”
  • After each event – a meeting with a prospective new client, a meeting with an ongoing client, support for a proposal or presentation – have a detailed debriefing.  What worked?  What didn’t?  When you make this kind of effort again, what would make it work out better?  And do your debriefings with everyone who’s contributing to your business development efforts, as everyone can learn from one person’s experience.
  • Celebrate successes.  Not just the winning of a new project but even a successful meeting.  We’re living in very somber times.  We need to celebrate our positives more.  Bring the people who are supporting your business development effort together – might just be a brown bag lunch meeting – and share what people did in the past week or month, and what the positive results are for your firm.  Winning is fun!

Yes, if you have marketing educational materials – a book, the Mandeville video, the audio cassettes, or training (when warranted) – provide that support as well.  But it’s the day-to-day coaching … in a way, applying Mandeville under the guidance of firm leaders … that will deliver the best results.

Building a cadre of young, eager, enthusiastic, and skilled business development people will go a long ways toward helping your firm succeed despite these turbulent times.  And that success becomes fun for everyone.