Business Development Training: Focus on your “Home” Dept? Maybe not

Services Deliverers who aim to be Rainmakers usually think that what they really, really want is a relationship with the key person in their “Home Department”. Accountants probably want to pitch to the FD, IT consultants the CIO, Surveyors the Facilities Director, Lawyers, Head of Legal.

Most consider it to be a success to be able to pick up the phone and chat to them.

Why do I suggest Rainmakers also pay attention to line-of-business management?

The Home Dept. is typically a trailing indicator of demand for your services, not a leading indicator. You’ll usually find that it was a business change , requirement for new behavior, competitor change, sudden change in performance up or down that created the demand for your services.

IT matters don’t always start as IT matters.
They often derive from someone saying something like “Couldn’t we use technology to cut our costs here / Improve our responsiveness / Flexibility”.
Some readers may be thinking, “What about when IT upgrades their servers. Isn’t that the start of the deal?” For that example maybe. However I suggest that it would be of benefit to understand why the business needs more / better / faster capacity and who in the business originated it.

I think you’ll find that the line-of-business managers, out there in customer facing positions trigger much of demand for your services. They’re the first to be aware of the business issue that may later become an IT issue, or require an IT component to its solution. If you participate in those discussions you’re very likely to know about opportunities or threats before the company’s team know about it.
If you’re part of that early conversation, because you understand it more and can influence the thinking (write the spec) your odds of being chosen to participate in the solution go up a lot.
By the time it’s defined as an IT issue, you enter the game as a vendor begging for a slice of the pie.

I suggest that using a higher level industry or company level issue may well be the key that opens the door for you. You can differentiate by your knowledge of the business issues as well as the great services you deliver.

Business Development Training: Do you have an outcome and plan in mind?

Vision without Action is a Dream
Action without a Vision is a Nightmare

I think lots of business development actions I hear of seem to be doing something but with no clear purpose or plan.
For me they fall into the Nightmare category.

Often in the context of business development people say things like
“I’m having lunch with…”
“I’m writing an article about…”
“I’m speaking at…”
“I’m going to this networking event”.

However they often don’t consider what’s the goal? And What’s the return on investment? is that activity for its own sake? Is it TAMO management (Then A Miracle Occurs) and business is generated.
We should really ask and “Then what? What happens next”?  Can we define a credible sequence of events that may lead to a desirable outcome?.

Here’s an example.

“I’m going to the XXYZZ Conference this November in Birmingham.”

With the conference fee, travel expense, and four days out of the office, that’s a pretty significant investment. Let’s ask what’s your goal for the event?

“My goals are to
1. Associate myself with the problem of the industry talent shortages.
2. I also want to find six people who are willing to discuss the topic in more depth with me after the event.”

What will you do between now and November to raise the odds of achieving those goals and justifying your investment?

“I’ll email my industry contacts to see how many are attending.
I’ll try to arrange to see them at a specific time/place during the event.
For those unable or unwilling to commit to that now, I’ll exchange contact details
and get permission to contact them after the event.”

Then what?

“I’ll develop a profile of the size and type of companies, and the key stakeholders within them, for whom my big enough to invest problem is likely important. ‘I’ll scan name badges looking for appropriate titles and appropriate companies; no match, no chat. I’m not networking; I’m hunting for prospects. After a minute or so of their response, I’ll graciously say I don’t want to monopolize their attention, and ask if it makes sense for us to continue the conversation after we return from the event.”

Then what?
“When I get home, I’ll send ‘follow up’ emails, reminding them of our topical discussion and that they thought it made sense to pick up the thread this week, and ask when it would be convenient to do so.”

Then what?
“During that discussion, after drilling down into the industry-specific topic, I’ll transition to exploring their company-specific version of it. If they acknowledge having the problem, or likely being subject to it before too long, I’ll learn the Cost of Doing Nothing. Assuming it’s significant, I’ll have confirmed that this is a legitimate sales opportunity. I’ll then begin the stakeholder alignment process to identify the core decision group and logical internal champion.”

That’s what I mean by having thought the first action all the way through to the desired outcome.
Will it play out like this?
Maybe, maybe not, but it certainly could play out exactly like this.
The point is that you’re no longer hoping for the best, but are now applying a considered strategy that requires only reasonably predictable responses to succeed.
At a large multi-day event, you should easily be able to come home with six legitimate prospects — which was your measurable goal.

The “then what” discipline isn’t just for major events and investments like conferences or trade shows.
You should do it for everything.
“I’m going to have lunch with Steve Jones.” Then what? Or, “I’m going to write an article for Computer News.
” Ok, then what? Or, “We’re meeting with CIO at XYZCo.” Then what?
If you can’t envision a sequence that results in getting what you want, the odds of it happening are miniscule.

Business Development Training: Suspects, Prospects, Opportunities…

I thought I’d write a little more about the differences that distinguish
suspects from prospects, prospects from opportunities,
opportunities from deals and deals from clients.

1. SUSPECTS  qualify for the minimum investment from you:
This is someone who, because of their position or membership of a Decision Making Unit (DMU) in a segment that you suspect experiences the (big enough to invest) problem that drives demand for your service.  Or perhaps their circumstances make it likely that they mayexperience this problem in the not too distant future.  Any person who you SUSPECT COULD buy your service is a Suspect.

SUSPECTS progress to be A PROSPECT 

2. If she has made contact with you and she seems to agree that this maybe a problem and you may have a role in it’s solution. A quick definition is that there is a Prospect or Chance that the problem may be discovered or brought out into the open at some point in the future. Your role maybe simply to PROSPECT  (as in prospecting for gold!) with the person to discover the problem

The PROSPECT progresses to an OPPORTUNITY 

3. When she confirms that her company is experiencing your big-enough-to-invest problem. There may well be an opportunity for you to influence or write the initial specification for the desired solution and all that this does to your chances of winning the later deal.

NB**Nothing in the above 3 categories should ever be forecast in any future review of possible business meeting

The OPPORTUNITY progresses to a DEAL

4.  A working definition of a DEAL is where the person or company will “Buy something (that you can supply) from someone in the next business period (month / qtr / yr)”
This is evidenced by the fact that your contact reveals that the Cost of Doing Nothing in her informed opinion is too high to ignore
She concludes that the company must take action to solve the problem
She actively helps you identify and engage the other decision stakeholders
Until all these things happen, please don’t list this as a “DEAL”.
Up until this point you should not invest any major amount of time into your Sales Funnel except to write outline specs for your solutions.

However once at this point your Business Development processes and skills should kick into high gear to close this DEAL.

5. Obviously, a CLIENT is someone who has hired you.

Each of these 5 states in your Sales Funnel have a different value.
Each justifies a different investment level and different actions from you.

If you have comments or questions please get in touch info@rainmaker-coaching.co.uk

Business Development Training: What’s your Focus? Individuals or Sector?

I’ve worked with different services deliverers, accountants, engineers, consultants, surveyors
All of them want to be Rainmakers and generate business for themselves and their businesses.
Often they initially decide that their best approach is to target a few people in a small number of specific companies. They invest lots of time trying to develop a relationship with one specific person in the hope that they may buy their services.

The focus on individuals is risky.
I suggest that there’s a less risky and in the longer run more effective way to go.
If the person you’ve targeted leaves that company or that company merges with another company or is taken over the playing field is changed irrevocably and you are not even on square 1.

I get that the logic that applies is

“This person buys this kind of service.
I’m really good at delivering this.
If I spend enough time with them they’ll buy some of me
Once I’ve landed we can expand”

Often the individual in the company is “known” by the Business Developer.
I have even seen where this approach has worked …

However I think there is a way to Re-Frame this problem of getting New New Business.

I’d suggest you would be better to build  a “Funnel” of Opportunities in a specific industry .
A funnel because it’s wider at the top than at the bottom in a way that you will see below.

Your aim is to attract Opportunities to you rather than you having to wait for and push for opportunities. You want to work with people who want to buy-from-you rather than identify people-to-sell-to

This lowers the risk and gives you choice of the kind of work to do and people to work with.
People identify themselves as ready to buy and by working with them you are not waiting for people to be ready. You could describe this as the difference between Marketing (one-to-many) and Selling (1 to 1).

Either way you approach this requirement you will be judged by

  • your understanding of the industry/business context
  • knowledge of it’s issues and problems
  • the applicability and usefulness of your ideas
  • the creativity of the solutions you advocate

If you join in the industry conversation, share your thinking on problems and issues
that have sufficient impact that companies must take action to deal with,
and that you can solve, you’ll create the following Opportunity Funnel

Sales Funnel

 

From the total universe of possible people in the industry who might “buy-You” a % who see your ideas will find them relevant, and pay attention to you.

They’ll subscribe to blogs, email list, Twitter, LinkedIn,
Let’s call these “Your Suspects”
Add your list of people in specific companies into here

a % of those who engage with you will decide that they like how you think. They’ll link you to that industry issue in their minds
Let’s Call these your “Prospects”

a % who link you with the solution to the problem will have to deal with it.  Let’s call these your “Opportunities”

a % who have to deal with the problem will seek your opinion.
They will have to buy something from someone
Let’s call these your “Deals”

 

a %  who consult you will discover that they like you
as much as they like your thinking and they’ll hire you
Let’s call these your “Clients” ?

Now your task is to pick an industry or a segment of a market where

1. The problem you solve is emerging.
2. It has significant enough impact that it commands action and investment
3. It occurs frequently enough that you don’t have to have a huge market share to succeed.

It will not be easy, but in my experience, it will be easier and more successful
than targetting companies and people in them and trying to SELL to them.
It will also give you a regular flow of business opportunities that you can work on alone or with others in your firm

You may also be interested in:

Interviewer Skills Training: The Rainmaker Guide to Interview Planning

From Carol Brennan our Guest Blogger:
Carol Brennan is a freelance writer and blogger who works with professional coaching and training companies

Interviewing isn’t just stressful for job applicants, but interviewers as well.
If you’re nervous, you’re more likely to make mistakes such as asking the wrong questions, spending too long talking about yourself or even losing control of the interview.

Creating a detailed interview plan gives you confidence and helps you stay on track.
This is especially important if you’re interviewing several candidates on the same day.
Following an interview plan also ensures that each candidate is treated fairly and consistently.
By ensuring all applicants go through the same process, you can easily compare their performances and select the best person for the job.

 How to Plan an Interview

Make sure all the practical arrangements are in place well in advance such as scheduling interview times with the candidates and booking a quiet room to hold the interviews.
Arrange to have at least one other member of staff conduct the interviews with you so you’ll get another perspective on the candidates’ performances.

Create your interview plan by dividing the interview into the following stages:

 1. Meet and Greet

The meet and greet sets the tone of the interview.
You can help the candidate feel relaxed by welcoming them at reception, thanking them for attending and offering them a drink. Put them at ease by asking them about their journey.

 2. Opening

Take the candidate into the room and introduce them to the other interviewers.
Explain that this will be a competency-based interview and you’ll give them time to think about their answers. Tell them how long each stage of the interview will last and when they’ll have an opportunity to ask questions.

 3. Motivational-Fit Questions

Create a list of questions you’ll ask the candidates based on the job description and person specification. Start with motivational-fit questions.
Motivational-fit questions help you determine whether the candidate’s values aligns with the company’s. Ask the candidate to provide evidence from their past experience that they have the required values. For example, if you decide integrity is important you might ask, “Tell us about a specific time when you had to handle a tough problem that challenged fairness or ethical issues?”

 4. Competency-Based Questions

After you’ve asked the relevant motivational fit questions, move on to competency-based questions. Asking competency-based questions should take up 75% of the interview time.

Read the job profile again to identify core competencies that the successful applicant must have. For example, if you decided that decision-making skills are important, your question might be, “Tell us about a time when you had to be decisive on an issue?”.
Ask the candidate follow-up questions and take detailed notes throughout.

Devise a scoring system so you can easily compare the applicants’ answers.

5. Job and Organisation Information

Pre-prepare a sheet as a prompt to give the candidate information about the organisation and job. Focusing on the company’s successes and the positive aspects of working there will help you sell the job to the applicant.

 6. Candidate Questions

Invite the candidate to ask you questions. Make sure you are prepared to answer questions on what you are looking for in your ideal candidate and job details such as salary, responsibilities and prospects for promotion.

 7. Next Steps

Explain the next stages in the process to the candidate, including when and how you will inform them of the outcome. Finally, take the candidate back to reception and thank them for coming.

 Rainmaker Interviewer Skills Training Course

 Rainmaker Interviewer Skills and Recruitment Training Workshop teaches you step-by-step how to build an effective interview plan, so you’ll feel confident and hire the best candidate for the job.

How do you plan interviews?

Let us know info@rainmaker-coaching.co.uk

Interviewer Skills Training: The Quick and Easy Way to Write Effective Job Profiles

(Written by Carol Brennan ) our Guest Blogger
Carol Brennan is a freelance writer and blogger who works with professional coaching and training companies

Improving employee retention rates will dramatically reduce your company’s outgoings.
Before they applied the Rainmaker techniques, many of our clients were losing up to 40% of their new hires in the first six months. These losses often run into ten of thousands of pounds.
Costs include job advertising and investment in induction and training. It’s not just money; recruitment staff waste many hours writing job profiles and interviewing applicants.

So how can you avoid unnecessary costs and quickly find your ideal candidate?

We think it starts with writing a clear job profile.

Why Write a Job Profile

Think of the job profile as a blueprint for your recruitment and selection process, a map to guide you to your ideal candidate. Although writing a detailed job profile takes time, it’s worth making the effort to avoid repeating the same process a few months later. A well-written job profile will help you attract highly motivated candidates who not only perform their jobs well but will also have excellent time-keeping and attendance records.

How to Write a Job Profile

Your job description should contain:

 1.    The job title

The job title should give candidates an accurate picture of the responsibilities of the role.
Don’t be tempted to make the job sound more important than it is.
Use industry standard terminology to describe the position so candidates can quickly find the vacancy in online job searches.

2.   The purpose and value of the role

Why does the job exist?
Summarise in two to three sentences how the job adds value to the organisation.

 3. Where the job fits in the business

Describe the level of authority the employee will have in comparison to other roles in the organisation. You may even consider including an organisational chart to clarify the employee’s position in the company.

 4. Key relationships and decision-making authority

  • Who will the new employee report to?
  • Who will they work closely with?
  • Who will report to the employee?
  • What decisions can the employee make?

Answering these questions helps clarify working relationships and how they contribute to the overall success of the business.

5.   Key responsibilities

  • What are the main duties and responsibilities of the role?
  • Make your description concise.
  • Keep the list of tasks between eight and twelve points.

6.   Competency levels

  • What characteristics do you want your ideal candidate to have?

You may wish to include desirable behaviours.
For example, do you expect him or her to have good team working skills?

 7.    The person specification

List essential and desirable competencies and capabilities. Splitting competencies and capabilities into ‘essential’ and ‘desirable’ will allow you to eliminate anyone who doesn’t have the required skills. You can then quickly draw up a short list of suitable candidates to take to the next stage of the process.

Writing a job profile doesn’t have to be complicated.
Use existing job profiles as a basis and update them.
Meet with HR staff and the hiring manager to determine the required competencies, education and other important criteria that the successful candidate should have.

Don’t discount your own experience, especially if you previously held the position.
Interviewing other employees who have performed well in the role will also help you define the key competencies required.

How Can Rainmaker Help?
Rainmaker Recruitment and Selection Training workshops can help you write a clear and simple job profile in just 20 minutes. You’ll receive tools, templates and examples to create the top six capabilities for your job profile. You’ll learn how to attract impressive candidates and increase employee retention by ensuring the candidates you hire are the right motivational fit for your company.

Do you have any questions about writing job profiles?
Let us know by emailing us info@rainmaker-coaching.co.uk

Business Development Training: Focus on your “Home” Dept? Maybe not

Services Deliverers who aim to be Rainmakers usually think that what they really, really want is a relationship with the key person in their “Home Department”. Accountants probably want to pitch to the FD, IT consultants the CIO, Surveyors the Facilities Director, Lawyers, Head of Legal.

Most consider it to be a success to be able to pick up the phone and chat to them.

Why do I suggest Rainmakers also pay attention to line-of-business management?

The Home Dept. is typically a trailing indicator of demand for your services, not a leading indicator. You’ll usually find that it was a business change , requirement for new behavior, competitor change, sudden change in performance up or down that created the demand for your services.

IT matters don’t always start as IT matters.
They often derive from someone saying something like “Couldn’t we use technology to cut our costs here / Improve our responsiveness / Flexibility”.
Some readers may be thinking, “What about when IT upgrades their servers. Isn’t that the start of the deal?” For that example maybe. However I suggest that it would be of benefit to understand why the business needs more / better / faster capacity and who in the business originated it.

I think you’ll find that the line-of-business managers, out there in customer facing positions trigger much of demand for your services. They’re the first to be aware of the business issue that may later become an IT issue, or require an IT component to its solution. If you participate in those discussions you’re very likely to know about opportunities or threats before the company’s team know about it.
If you’re part of that early conversation, because you understand it more and can influence the thinking (write the spec) your odds of being chosen to participate in the solution go up a lot.
By the time it’s defined as an IT issue, you enter the game as a vendor begging for a slice of the pie.

I suggest that using a higher level industry or company level issue may well be the key that opens the door for you. You can differentiate by your knowledge of the business issues as well as the great services you deliver.