Professional Service Business Development

It’s sales actually. But in that word choice can lie an issue. Professional firms might find ‘business development’ more palatable than ‘sales’. Folk sometimes hide behind euphemisms because sales is, well, just not the sort of thing professional firms do is it?

That may sound an absurdly outdated way of thinking to many of you however astonishingly I am still being asked about this ‘sales is tacky’ perception almost as much as I ever was.

Top firms of accountants or consultants (for example) have been amongst the best sales performers for a century. Think of a great name in the professions, and there you will find a nest of the most committed and capable sales people one can find. Even though most of the time they are delivering services rather than selling them.

Do professionals who cringe away from the word ‘sales’ do so because they associate it with importuning the unsuspecting? Let’s face it none of us relish foisting our offering onto people who don’t need it. Or is it the fear of the discomfort of making a cold approach, then worse, being rejected and feeling humiliated? Or is it pride viz I want to appear (or I pretend to be) too successful and senior to need to lower myself to actually ask for your business?

It’s usually a variation on these themes, and may be all three at once. It comes down to this: the issue is misunderstanding what selling is. So in turn the solution is to demystify sales, and then go for simplicity.

For example.

There is an overwhelming body of work that shows the most important thing a sales professional (or any would be influencer) can do is to manage their emotional impact on the other party.

So obviously importuning is out for a start.

Grace combines empathy, resonance, optimism, and caring about both party’s self-esteem – thus guaranteeing positive emotional affect.

Professional business development is all about this – making the client feel at the emotional level that your firm is the right one to appoint. At one level this is about demonstrating competence, at another it is about finding people (adviser & client) who can get on incredibly well, in short it is always about managing emotional impact.

For example, Extrovert or introvert in sales as I have discussed previously, switching between extrovert and introvert in response to the needs and reactions of the other party combines empathy & resonance. Empathy in seeing it their way & sensing their reactions; resonance in triggering positive emotion, avoiding the opposite.

If they need you to take the lead, liven things up, amuse & entertain them: go extravert. If they need quiet time to reflect undisturbed, or to gently process what you’re saying, go the other way. If you’re making them less than comfortable with one style, switch to the other.

Professional exponents of Gracious business development flex their style to put their potential client at ease. By changing pace, communication style, detail/bottom line, tasks/emotions, people/business. Extrovert/introvert. And so on.

It’s about respect and professionalism

Selling in this way is the opposite of the pushy telesales nuisance. It’s about helping people improve their own business’s performance by working with you to let you deliver exactly what they need, and at fair value.

Whatever you call it.

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