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Welcome to the seventh video in our 8-part series about how to craft 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, so that your clients will run towards you because they love the prospect of working with you.
This segment, on the other hand, is about YOU.
We find that the roller coaster of everyday professional life is what makes business development difficult. People get busy providing services and deliverables. Subsequently, they don’t focus 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 Amabiel at Harvard University has done some groundbreaking research that studies the people that 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 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 is attached to this email. 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. (Remember, 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 process 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 this document, allowing you to review your progress during the prior week and determine next steps.
I personally find that Friday afternoons work well for me. Doing this will provide closure for the previous week and it will encourage you to celebrate meaningful progress as suggested by Teresa Amabiel. Completing this exercise on Friday will also help you to enjoy your weekend more since you will have already figured out what to do next week and won’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. If you think it will generally take 15 minutes, block off a half-hour.
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.