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When to start Business Development training?

We are often asked when the best time is to start with Business Development training and how to go about it. Our answer to this is always the same: as soon as possible and by being mindful of difference. In this article we explain why.

As soon as possible

Research across a number of professional services firms showed that the biggest factor influencing growth was not having a strong strategy, nor was it partnering with and listening to clients (though both of these were important), rather, it was having strong engagement in business development. In other words, in order to bring a strategy to life and to build on what you hear from clients, it is key that firms get all their professionals engaged in business development. This has a notable impact on the bottom line.

To see the full report download it here.

In order to have professionals engaged across the board, building skills, motivation, and confidence need to be part of the DNA of a firm. Leaving it until professionals are within touching distance of partnership is too late.

Why? The answer is pretty straightforward. We learn from our mistakes, through trial and error. When the stakes aren’t as high we can practice and find our way. Professionals know this and this is how they teach the technical skills that they (be they accountants, lawyers, or consultants) need. Business Development – which covers a range of skills, notably focused on relationship building, service delivery, and sales – is a key part of the day job yet all too often is left until fear or bad habits have set in.

Mindful of difference

Difference applies to numerous things. The way of working across business development teams. The way the business development team interacts with the professionals who deliver the firm's services (lawyers, accountants, consultants, etc). It also applies to individuals themselves and how they engage with business development.

We say be mindful of difference because if there is one area of a firm where one size doesn’t fit all, this is it. We have written before about how we should work to leverage individual strengths, working as a conductor to bring all of these individual elements together. Working with difference also helps increase confidence and motivation to do something which is often seen as a necessary evil within firms.

What does this all mean in practice?

Firms should be mindful of the programmes they have in place. Training is a must from trainee/apprentice level upwards. This training should be something that is continuous and allow for able opportunity to practice.

Training should be accompanied with an understanding of who people are. This is where coaching comes into its own because self-awareness is key here. Allowing time for self-reflection is often seen as an indulgence. Something non-billable that maybe is akin to daydreaming. However, firms should encourage this time and space. Reflecting on how things have gone, on what those reflections say about them as an individual, and becoming self-aware is powerful. It generates emotional intelligence, it strengthens business development efforts (lest we forget that so much about BD is about relationships) and it also makes professionals better professionals.

To find out more about how Client Talk can help you with your business development training and coaching get in touch.


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