Following the main presentation at a recent Advancement Strategy Symposium, one intuitive attendee left us with a nicely loaded takeaway that was hidden in plain sight. This anonymous participant simply wrote, discretely across the comments flipchart, “Identify your clients’ problems, then offer possible solutions”. This idea, naturally, was suggested by one of the evening’s panelists, and struck a chord with this participant. The idea also brings to mind a passage in Dr Arin Reeves’ book One Size Never Fits All, wherein she describes an exercise she conducted with 4 professional women.
These partnered women, in addressing their business development shortfalls, were asked to substitute themselves with their clients in their own problem statements. In other words, “I” became “my client”, and when it did, something magical happened: each looked at their problem with new empowerment….as an advocate for the solution. This reframing of one’s self-outlook proves essential for finding value in your own needs and goals, giving you the spirit to become your own best client. The reward? A sense of deserving, and eventually, some happy clients!
Once you’ve been immersed in the exercise and have defined your weaknesses, you’re ready to begin the role reversal. But putting your new perspective into practice with your current and potential clients is not just a done deal. You now have to ask yourself a few applicable business development questions, and decide what your goals are. For instance, where do your clients hang out? And are there associations you could penetrate to meet more potential clients? In answering these questions, you should also be painting a picture of your ideal client, and uncovering their meeting grounds. Is there an accountants’ group, for example, that you should be cozying up to?
Consider also your business allies, who may be willing and ready to help you with business development. Who are the people you can depend on to make introductions? Can you leverage your connections’ LinkedIn profiles? Additionally, consider what type of venues you prefer. Are you more comfortable and effective with small meetings or large networking groups? And above all, you’ll need to be clever in designing your referable message….that is, the value proposition you allow to resonate through your industry about your services. Sorting out these variables, and integrating your new sense of deserving will quickly lend itself to filling in the holes that had been missing from your business development formula.
Getting Some Perspective
Even before you begin to explore your new client-serving habits, assessing how much time you should be spending on business development in the first place might be in order. For different positions in different industries, the ratio of time spent servicing established clients to engaging with new clients can vary. Make sure you’re in-line with your company’s expectations for business development first. Then block out the appropriate amount of time in your weekly schedule to cover your networking fulfillment needs, being careful to allocate enough time for your non-client related duties. You’ll want to show that you’re capable of getting your job done while bringing in new business on a steady basis, particularly if you have your eye on a promotion. Balance is always your guideline, with a focus on keeping yourself happily at the center of the equation.