The number 1 thing holding professionals back in business development (and how to overcome it)
In my April webinar for FINSIA on ‘Network-building plans for finance professionals in the new normal’, I outlined the key problems I see professional advisors stumble on when it comes to their business and relationship development. Some of the stumbling blocks I hear all the time from financial advisors, bankers, accountants, lawyers and other professionals include:
- It’s hard to connect and build trust when so much of what we are doing is online
- I/my team lack confidence in positioning and introducing what we do and ‘why us’
- Networking events are hit-and-miss
- Coffee meetings lack purpose and there’s no follow through
- It’s hard to stay top of mind and be referred often, even by happy clients
- It’s hard to stay focused on business development and networking activities when we are so busy doing the work
While many resonate with these and more, there is one thing that holds professionals back in business development more than anything… and this was reflected in the poll results during our webinar, when we asked 130+ participants what they were struggling with most – and found that for the majority, it was the lack of a clear plan.
Even where many responded that a lack of commitment and accountability from staff was a factor – the vast majority cited the lack of a clear plan as the main problem – and in fact, this lack of planning has a flow-on effect to a lack of confidence in business development and networking, which manifests in a lack of commitment and accountability from staff.
What does a clear BD plan look like for professional services?
There is so much information out there about how professional advisors should network, do sales, use LinkedIn… but this can lead to overwhelm and lack of clarity about what really makes sense for your ‘trusted advisor’ brand, and what really moves the needle in your business. That’s why it’s important to seek advice from specialists who have deep experience with clients in professional services – because the approach is specific to them – and can even vary considerably between different sectors, such as between accounting and finance, for example.
“There is so much information out there about how professional advisors should network, do sales, use LinkedIn… but this can lead to overwhelm and lack of clarity about what really makes sense for your ‘trusted advisor’ brand…”
Here’s a snapshot of the planning format I offered to FINSIA members in the webinar (and you can watch the full recording below for templates and examples).
Step 1. Be clear on exact business development goals (e.g. 3 new clients worth $X in the next month; 1 new key referral partner in the next two months). Once you have your targets, think about how you have achieved similar targets in the past – how many conversations or touchpoints were needed to build that trusted relationship? If you know exactly how many and what kinds of conversations you need to have to get those new clients, you then know what work needs to be done, by when, to reach your goals.
Step 2. Plot your relationship-building flow chart. How do you guide people from first contact (such as a LinkedIn connection or meeting at a networking event) through to working relationship? Brainstorm the key steps and what activities need to be completed at each step. You should also be thinking about creating a suite of resources to support these steps, such as email templates for introductions and a meeting planner with key questions you need to ask. These resources should be informed by what you know makes sense and works with your clients/contacts, and what aligns with your brand.
Step 3. Be strategic in choosing supporting networking activities. With limited time, your networking activities should be focused and well-planned, to get the most out of a few key actions. Be clear who you want to network with and where they are, and choose meaningful events and experiences that move you towards those all-important 1-on-1 conversations. Ensure you have action steps in place before, during and after networking activities/events, in order to leverage them fully.
WATCH THE WEBINAR BELOW: