Welcome to the eighth video in our eight-part series about crafting the perfect buying process for your clients. This is our last video in the series. Congratulations for making it this far!
What you've learned up to this point is:
- How to craft a magnetic buying process for your clients that they will love.
- How to hack your own habits so you can stay on top of business development going forward.
Here, we are going to cover the two things that Rainmakers do to become great at business development.
Before beginning, I want to highlight that, although this is the last video in the series, you can look forward to receiving ongoing communication from us with lots of little tips and tricks on every single aspect of business development. These can include topics as diverse as:
- The ways to “get in” with a new client.
- Strategies to create demand.
- The practical steps to develop and maintain longstanding client relationships.
- Suggestions regarding ways to invest in your clients in deeper ways than you ever thought possible.
We are going to cover all these and more during our communications going forward.
Also, please feel free to reach out to us at any stage. We answer all our emails and phone calls, and we'd love to have a dialogue with you.
Now, it’s time to get down to business. Here are the two things that we see Rainmakers across all industries do.
First, they attack business development in the same way that they attacked learning their craft in the beginning. They dive into books and articles and subscribe to every source they can.
You should also think about business development as something you can learn, something you can speak on, and something you can shepherd and mentor others in. If you put as much energy into business development as you did mastering your craft, you will measure what you're doing for BD, determine the ways to get better, and experiment with new techniques. There’s no way not to improve if you make learning business development a top priority.
Secondly, Rainmakers never let the excuse, "I'm too busy," get in the way.
Instead, they say, "I'm really busy next week, but I've got lots of access to important clients because I've got so much going on. What can I do with the access and the little bit of time that I have?” By doing this, they avoid the rollercoaster effect created by alternating slow and busy periods.
You should always be filling your pipeline. Treat business development as a priority that you need to move forward.
Thank you again for watching this series. We really enjoyed creating these videos. We hope they have helped you immensely. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us if there's anything we can do to be helpful to you going forward.
Welcome to the seventh video in our eight-part series about crafting the perfect buying process for your clients. In many ways, this is the most important one. In the prior segments, we have mostly focused on the ways to create a magnetic buying process for your clients, so that they will run towards you because they love the prospect of working with you.
This segment, on the other hand, is about YOU.
In our work at BIG, we have found that the roller coaster of everyday, professional life is what makes business development difficult. People get busy providing services and deliverables. Subsequently, they can't seem to focus as much on business development. They often find that they have sudden, unanticipated bursts of extra time, which they use to have a flurry of activity around business development. Unfortunately, it's usually too late at that point.
Successful business development depends on making steady, incremental progress over a sustained period of time.
If you let the ball drop, it’s difficult to pick it up and start running with it again. This nugget of advice is backed by scientific research.
Dr. Teresa Amabile at Harvard University has done some groundbreaking research that studies the people who feel most fulfilled in their work.
She found that people that celebrate meaningful, incremental progress all the time are the ones who are the happiest, most fulfilled, and most excited.
I can’t think of another discipline that has less positive reinforcement for doing great work than business development. When you're doing work with your clients, you get positive reinforcement all the time. There are thank-you’s, atta-boys, atta-girls, pats on the back, and handshakes. Clients show their appreciation all the time for the work that you’re doing for them.
When we do business development, on the other hand, people often don't even respond. You try to set up a lunch, but only one person out of four replies. You are trying to be helpful, but it's difficult because you're working with people that don't know you well. The relationships are just at an earlier stage. For this reason, it is much harder to get meaningful, positive reinforcement to confirm that you’re doing the right thing. Instead, you must hack your own habits to create a similar effect.
There are two things that you need to do to make this work well.
The first of these is filling out the downloadable form that you can find in the bottom half of the email you received. It’s a simple exercise, but I cannot stress enough the importance of filling one of these out for the first time.
All that you have to do is:
- In the first column, write down every opportunity that you have in your own personal business development pipeline.
- In the other columns, put a check mark for what stage the client would say that they are in the BD process (this is not where you say they are; the client’s opinion is the one that matters here). The different stages include:
- Listen and Learn
- Create Curiosity
- Build Everything Together
- Gain Approval
- In the last (and most important) column, you should input the proactive next step that you can take to move that opportunity forward.
In addition to filling out the form for the first time, you should determine a specific time block to reserve each week to revisit that document. Completing this exercise on a weekly basis allows you to review your progress throughout the previous week, celebrate meaningful progress as suggested by Teresa Amabile, and determine the next steps for you to focus on.
I personally find that Friday afternoons work well for me. Completing the exercise during that time block provides closure for the previous week and also helps me enjoy my weekends more, since I have already figured out what to do next week and don’t have to worry about it over the weekend.
When do you think would work best for you? Maybe it's Monday morning or Thursday afternoon. It doesn’t matter when it is as long as you schedule it in your calendar. I suggest putting in double the time you think you need to ensure that you never feel rushed.
The final step is to keep that time block sacred so that you never let a week go by without updating that document.
If you follow the steps that we’ve outlined here, you will always be making incremental, proactive progress and you'll feel much better about your business development work.
Our next segment is our final one. To close this series, we’ll discuss what it takes to be truly successful at business development.
Interested in learning more about the Progress Principle? Check out the following link:
Welcome to the sixth video in our eight-part series about crafting the perfect buying process for your clients. Today, we will discuss how you are going to Gain Approval (i.e. obtain final buy-in and close the deal), either the verbal acceptance or an actual handwritten signature on a proposal. By convincing your client to take that last step, you will be able to get the ball rolling and start helping them move forward.
At BIG, we are often asked to train people who have trouble closing deals. They get all kinds of opportunities. They send proposals out. Yet, for whatever reason, they seem to win only a minuscule percentage of the time, and nobody seems to be able to figure out why.
Usually what we find is not a closing problem per se. Rather, this difficulty occurs when the professionals didn't do the other three steps well.
- They didn't get those incremental buy-ins.
- They didn't create curiosity.
- They didn't listen to the client’s needs upfront.
- They heard words in meetings like, "Oh, send me a proposal on that," and they did it without Building Everything Together. Many times, the process of creating these proposals also wasted dozens or hundreds of hours of people time.
If you have followed the steps that we have already discussed in the prior videos, gaining approval can be easy.
Even if you've done everything correctly, however, two main issues can still occur right when you’re at the point of gaining approval.
The first issue is new information that emerges on the client side.
For example, the client can be excited about moving forward and be ready to sign, but maybe they just received an email yesterday that says, "budgets are cut” or “travel budgets are frozen." Anything can happen.
The introduction of new information means that we have to go back one step to Building Everything Together with the client. We should adjust the goals, the process, the roles, and the money so that it fits a new scope. Let's assume that the budget has been cut in half. No problem. Let's figure out what we can do for half the money. We can reduce the scope to align with the new budget so that we can move forward.
The second issue is the introduction of new people.
This difficulty occurs more often than the first. Let's say we worked with the client building everything together and we felt like we had everything buttoned up. They went to get final approval internally and found somebody else wanted to weigh in. Sometimes the person is from a different department like finance or procurement. Other times, it’s their boss or their boss's boss.
The addition of a new decision-maker isn’t necessarily a negative event. It just means that someone else within your client’s organization is excited about the work you are doing.
After the addition of a new person, we usually have to go back to the first step - Listen and Learn. From there, we will shepherd this new decision-maker through the process. We have to ask questions such as:
- What does the new decision-maker need to hear?
- What information do they need to share with us so that we can get their unique perspective?
- How do we create curiosity within the new person for the solution that we already created?
- What little things do we need to tweak in our Building Everything Together so that their words, perspective, and buy-in are incorporated? We usually don't have to revamp everything. Often, we just need to adjust about 5% of the proposal so that the new person is just as excited as the person we have been working with the whole time.
In summary, we often find is that gaining approval is very easy and it is only one of those two obstacles that can slow us down. In those cases, you just go back to the appropriate step and guide people all the way through until everybody is excited. Then, you can get that final signature and begin work with the client.
Now let's talk about the next segment of this video course because, honestly, it’s probably the most important one. This is where you are most likely to let yourself down. At this point, we have talked in depth about how you are going to lead your clients through a buying process that will get them excited about your services.
Now, we are going to turn the lens on you. We are going to discuss what you need to do to hack your habits so that you can stay on top of your entire portfolio of opportunities, always moving them forward without dropping the ball when you become busy.
Welcome to the fifth video in our eight-part series about crafting the perfect buying process for your clients. Today, we’ll be talking about “Building Everything Together” with the client.
Let’s begin with what NOT to do.
Imagine you have an inkling that the client would like to work with you. Let’s say that you completed the previous step perfectly and created a lot of curiosity. The client even said, "Hey, why don't you send me a proposal on that?" However, at this point, it's important to realize that you aren't completely sure where the client stands. It's possible that the client is using the proposal request as a way to get you out of their office. On the other hand, they might be so interested in working with you that they can't wait to get the proposal tomorrow. The client could really be anywhere on the spectrum between those two extremes.
A common mistake that we want to avoid is going back to the office, recruiting 12 people, and writing up some lengthy proposal to suggest how you could work with the client. Many professionals don't get any client input before they complete the proposal and throw it over the wall. At that point, the only way for the client to add value is to point out the issues they identify. This practice also fosters a “either I like it or I don't” mentality, which can be problematic.
Instead of falling into this trap, we are going to leverage a phenomenon that has been named the IKEA Effect, after the Swedish retailer IKEA.
The IKEA Effect asserts that people buy into what they have helped create.
Preeminent behavioral science scholars Michael Norton, Daniel Mochon, and Dan Ariely found that people who put their IKEA furniture together themselves placed far higher bids to purchase those same objects afterwards than when they placed bids on identical pre-assembled furniture.
It seems that when we get the Allen wrench out ourselves to build the table, somehow in our minds it's more valuable if we build it than if it's already put together by someone else. The IKEA effect is powerful in the business development context, because building something ourselves makes us value it more. We want our clients to have a hand in building the scope of a project together with us.
The second part of the science behind the Building Everything Together process is based on the Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument (HBDI®).
This assessment covers the four major ways people think - analytical, experimental, practical, and relational - and is roughly based on the physiological structure of the brain. We’ve found that professionals have the most success when we Build Everything Together in a specific order using the four major ways people think.
When you want to get buy-in, the first step is to identify the goal.
What are we trying to accomplish by working together? When you can nail down the vision with the client, you have a great foundation building the rest of the proposal together. Anything that moves you toward a clear definition of the goal is forward progress. Don't move on until you get agreement on the goal.
The second thing you want to cover is the process.
Some of the major questions to answer are:
- What are the steps that will be necessary to accomplish that goal?
- What is the rough order and timeline in which we want to accomplish them?
These questions are generally answered in a Gantt chart or other similar document. The major output is a plan to ensure that we accomplish the goal flawlessly.
Third, you want to cover the roles.
The principal questions that we want to answer are:
- What are we going to do?
- What is the client team going to do?
We want to make sure that we're interfacing, having fun, and learning together, while also ensuring that we have the right talent on both sides to execute the Gantt chart of the process to achieve the goal.
The fourth step is the one that everybody is afraid about. We're going to talk about money.
We want you to talk about the cost last so that you and the client already agree on the goal, the process, and the level of talent necessary. That way, when you talk about money, the client understands the value they will receive.
When you write up the proposal by yourself and then throw it over the wall, without the client first buying into the goals, the process, and the talent, the first thing they look at is the money. Their typical reaction is, "Oh my gosh! I can't believe this is so expensive!"
By waiting to talk about money at the end, you will be more confident. More importantly, it will help your clients make better decisions, because they will understand the whole proposal perfectly. This is because they bought into the prior three steps, which discuss the value that your client will receive, before you talked about money.
By following these four steps, you can lead your client through the process of Building Everything Together in a way that they will love, while also capitalizing on the IKEA effect.
In our next segment, we're going to learn how to clear the difficult hurdle of gaining final approval. There are some counterintuitive pieces to this one, as well. The good news is that, assuming you've done the prior three steps well, gaining approval isn’t as hard as most people think. Problems generally arise from some unexpected challenges coming out of the woodwork, harming your chances of receiving the final sign-off. We're going to talk about how to handle these unforeseeable events so that you can close the deal and start helping the client.
Interested in learning more about the IKEA Effect? Check out the following resource:
Welcome to the fourth video in our eight-part series about crafting the perfect buying process for your clients. What we're going to talk about here is the way to transition from talking about the client to talking about you. The magic that makes this transition possible is curiosity.
If you can create curiosity about how you can be helpful to the client, great things are going to happen.
The research in this area is powerful. Dr. Matthias Gruber and his team found that people are intrinsically motivated to do things if they’re curious about them.
Here's a simple example:
Let's say you're out at the bar with some friends and somebody mentions that Bob Gibson's ERA was unbelievable for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1968. Your friend spills the beans and he says, "Gosh, I can't believe it was 1.12."
Somebody else says, "There's no way it was that low. Nobody has an ERA that low." What does everybody do? They grab their phones and they start Googling it because they're curious about what the real answer is (By the way, 1.12 was correct). The fact that the whole group stopped everything to conduct this information search shows the power of curiosity.
It's also interesting to note that other researchers have found that curiosity can also affect memory.
Diana Tamir studied this phenomenon and found that people’s recall for issues that they were incredibly curious about is far stronger and lasts much longer than for things that didn’t inspire curiosity. Curiosity drives our motivation and it even helps us remember things after the fact.
How can you drive curiosity? The best practice is to unfold curiosity through the business development process over time.
A great mystery novel does not identify the perpetrator on the first page. It unfolds a little bit over time, and that delicate dance of solving problems and providing more clues over time is wonderfully enjoyable. Applying this insight to business development, you want to unfold the process over time. At first this might seem counterintuitive, but remember that you're not going to make some big sale in the first meeting anyway, so business development is no different than the mystery novel. Let it unfold a little bit over time.
If you have a client that starts to shine the light back on you, you might want to resist the attention for a little bit. You can say:
"Hey, I can answer that question you asked, but you know what - I've got these one or two other questions that I'd love to cover with you. I've been dying to ask you what your perspective is on X, but I'd be happy to talk about how a client solved that problem in a moment."
Let them know that you have the answer, but keep the focus on them for a little bit longer. You can come back later in that meeting and give them your precise three-step process for solving the issue they've got.
Another way that you can use curiosity is to spread the business development process into the future meetings. If the client asks a question, "Gosh, what have you heard about X?", you might want to say:
"I can give you a high-level overview, but we've only got 12 minutes left. Why don't we set up another meeting and I'll connect you via video conference with our expert in London. She just completed a research on that exact issue, and I'll bet she'd be happy to share it with you. It's really great stuff. I just saw a sneak peek of it.”
Words and phrases like “sneak peek”, “innovation”, “new” and “I'll be glad to cover that with the expert” drive a lot of curiosity by incorporating the findings from both of the pieces of the research mentioned earlier.
In summary, curiosity is powerful because:
- It motivates others to be a part of the journey with us.
- The client’s recall will be even better than it would've been otherwise.
In the next segment of this Video Series, we’ll answer a tough client question: “How would we work together contractually?”
We'll teach you how to get little incremental buy-ins on every major piece of a four-step process. The focus will be on the ways to build the engagement together with the client so that they'll be really excited after each incremental step. If done correctly, they will be ready and excited to take the next one.
Want to learn more about the research mentioned in this video? Check out the following link:
Welcome to the third video in our eight-part series about crafting the perfect buying process for your clients. What we're going to learn now is how to "Listen and Learn" so that you can give the spotlight to your client. This is a key, differentiating part of creating a great buying process, since it doesn't involve starting with yourself.
First, let’s start with the research. Diana Tamir at UC Santa Barbara has done my favorite research on the value of Listening and Learning. Here's what it looks like:
The first thing Diana and her team did was look at hundreds of thousands of social media posts, which allowed them to get a reasonably complete picture of all social media usage. When conducting their analysis, they found that over 80% of social media posts are all about the person who wrote them. One example could be:
"Look, I'm having a cheeseburger. It's got extra cheese on it. Isn't it great?"
The basic, overarching message from the posts is ‘look at me’.
The second thing Diana and her team did (which I think is even more interesting) was testing blood oxygenation levels of the brain using functional MRI machines while people talked about themselves.
They found that the pleasure center of the brain is what lights up when we're talking about ourselves, specifically when we're talking about our own experiences or our own predictions about future experiences that we or other people might have. It’s interesting to note that we receive a positive stimulus when we express our opinions about other people as well as ourselves. As the research highlights, this is the same pleasure center that lights up when we have great food or we have sex.
The pleasure center of the brain is incredibly powerful. It affects our opinions and drives our motivations. When we ask clients questions about where they've been and where they want to go, we are giving them the spotlight. When we avoid hogging center stage by talking about ourselves, we let the clients be the stars of the show.
There are two other powerful reasons that you should ask great questions to get your client talking.
Great questions show credibility. When you're asking deep, second- and third-level questions, you're showing your knowledge of this particular organization and their industry. Moreover, you can organically demonstrate the effort that you’ve invested in them by preparing for this meeting.
You will also be able to position your own services very specifically if you know what the client thinks about their current situation. It’s especially powerful when you can use their wording to discuss the specific issues that they've brought up. When you start with yourself, on the other hand, you are forced to use generic wording around general issues that you've seen with other clients, which isn’t very powerful for the client.
In summary, there are three major benefits to Listening and Learning:
1. You're going to give the spotlight to them, which they're going to love.
2. You're going to be able to show your credibility.
3. You're going to be able to uniquely position how you can solve their issues.
The next idea we want to hit on is: How do you craft a great question?
There are two major components: the framing and the question itself. When framing, you have the opportunity to talk about what you know regarding the given situation.
For example, you could say:
"Given the research we've done in this area, what do you think should be the next step in your organization? In our experience, we worked with another client that had these things go on and they found X, Y, and Z were the most important parts of their implementation. What do you think are the critical pieces of your implementation?"
The frame lets you talk about your experience in a much better way than the self-centered example we saw with Mr. Joe Salesman in Segment 2.
It allows you to seed a little bit of curiosity while talking about the work you can do. Most importantly, a well-constructed frame allows you to do this without stealing the spotlight.
Additionally, your question should engage their personal opinion about what they think needs to happen next to move beyond the current state.
If the endpoint is more generic, your question will not engage that pleasure center of the brain. You need to ask questions that delve into what they personally think. This means that starting with the client is critical, since you will never be able to ask specific questions to elicit this pleasure response without deeply understanding their issues.
Finally, you need to start to subtly shine the light back on how you can solve their issues and the ways in which you can be helpful, whether it involves your services or not. You just want to provide the best solution for the client. The bridge between the client talking about what they're doing and should do and you discussing how you might be helpful is curiosity. If you're creating curiosity, you're naturally able to shift from the client to how you might be able to be helpful to them.
In our next segment, we're going focus more on creating curiosity. We’ll talk about the science of curiosity and the reasons that it's a great motivator. We’ll also cover why it helps clients recall what you've talked about even more.
Interested in learning more about the research mentioned in this video? Check out the following link:
Welcome to the second video in our eight-part series about crafting the perfect buying process for your clients. This segment is about what NOT to do in the business development process.
What does "business development" often look like when put into practice? Here’s a common scenario that we’ve found over the years:
Mr. Joe Salesman shows up and starts talking about himself before he really digs in and tries to figure out what's going on with the client. He generally brings a really boring PowerPoint presentation (by the way, everybody has the same one).
“Look, Mr. Buyer, here are all of the pillars for our business. We're really great. Look at all the things we do. Oh, look at the next slide! It's our logo slide. Look at the amazing clients that we work with. And next? Oh, here are some testimonials from people without their last names, so you'll never be able to look them up. Jim G. in Wyoming says we’re great. And lastly, here are three case studies we wrote just for you. Well, actually… there's a typo at the top of the page. Sorry, it doesn't have your client name on it; we must have missed that in our prep.”
Starting with yourself and having the same, boring stuff as everybody else is horrible. Don't do it.
Many people try to do business development the wrong way. They focus on selling instead of creating a great buying process by:
- Talking about themselves, instead of asking questions about the client.
- Walking in with their collateral materials that are fancy from the marketing department and leading off the meeting by talking through them.
- Doing anything that emphasizes themselves or their company first, instead of focusing on the client.
In our next segment, we’ll teach you how to craft perfectly articulated questions that show the depth of your knowledge in the industry as well as the quality of the research that you've done for this particular client meeting.
It's going to engage, from a behavioral science and neuroscience perspective, the pleasure center of the brain (I’ll explain that in more detail later). That way, the client is excited about talking to you and sharing their perspective about what's happened and what the next steps should look like.
Welcome to the first video in an eight-part series that's going to tell you everything that you need to know to create more demand with your clients. We're going to teach you the behavioral science, the neuroscience, and the psychology behind every step that you need to create a fantastic buying experience for your clients.
We're going to be the opposite of “selling.” Instead, we're going to teach you the way to focus on business development in the right ways so that you feel good about it and your clients love it. If executed correctly, your clients are going to want to run to you to get your help.
Here are some of the things that you're going to learn:
- How to ask great questions so that your clients are engaged and excited about telling you what's going on.
- How to create curiosity so that you can start to shine the light on the ways that you could be helpful to them that align with the issues that they are facing.
- How to "Build Everything Together" with the client to determine the ways that you're going to solve their issues. By doing this, you’ll be able to understand the client’s goals, design the process, and involve the right people. You’ll also be able to develop the pricing so that you can talk about money in the ways that your clients are excited about as you move forward.
- How to gain final approval, which sometimes is the hardest part.
In this series, we'll touch upon all of the major things that you need to do to maneuver yourself through this process while guiding your clients along the way to ensure that everybody's excited each step of the way. You’ll learn how to make little, incremental progress all the time so that you always have a high rate of success with each step.
The biggest myth in business development is that it is a skill that cannot be learned by people. People believe that Rainmakers in their company have some kind of innate talent for business development – and that other folks can’t learn how to do BD with the same results. That is completely wrong. We've trained over 10,000 people and found that individuals can learn business development techniques, just like they learned their craft. The problem tends to be that they just haven't spent nearly enough time developing the skills and expertise necessary for success.
One of our facilitators was leading a group of senior litigators at a very prestigious law firm. She asked them, "How much time have you spent learning your craft, becoming great at what you do?" Somebody blurted out, "50,000 hours." He did quick math in front of the group and said, "Hey, I've worked about 3,000 hours a year. I've been here 15, 16 years. You add law school, and all of a sudden you get to 50,000." Then she asked, "How much time have you spent learning and trying to become great at business development?" The same guy blurted out, "Seven hours, and that includes five hours today." Everybody laughed, but at the same time the group made a key realization: he had spent 50,000 hours being great at his craft and only 7 hours becoming great at what he's on the hook for now.
Many people think that others are only great at business development if they have the right genes. In our experience, the reason for this misconception is that the factors that lead to success are largely invisible to bystanders.
Let's say Sue is great at business development. People assume, "Oh, Sue's great at that. I could never do that.” What they don't see is the voicemail Sue leaves her client at 10:00 at night while she's driving home from the airport, checking in on how they’re doing. They don't see the time that Sue spends late on a Friday night or early on a Saturday morning planning out her next week and figuring out what should she do around business development. They don't see the 23 books she read on every single aspect of business development. All of those things are invisible, which is why people reach the conclusion that, "Oh, Sue's just great at it. I could never do what Sue did." That is wrong. You can be great at business development. You just have to invest the time.
What you're going to learn in this video series is how to do things the right way. You’ll learn the way to design a fantastic buying experience that your clients are going to love. It will be attractive and magnetic. What’s more – you'll feel great about it, because you're being helpful and you're not “selling.”
In the next video, we're going to cover what NOT to do in the business development process. We're going to teach you the things to avoid so that you can focus on the right things to do.