a.k.a. Business development when you’re crazy busy with delivery
I regularly have conversations with consultants who are stretched by their project commitments. They’ve stopped doing business development because they don’t think they have time. I explain why that’s a poor choice and offer them these quick and easy activities:
- While you’re next on-site doing delivery grab a coffee with your executive sponsor. Get to know them better. What challenges do they see in their organisation? What frustrations do they have? What are their personal ambitions? The trick is to keep the conversation low key and build rapport.
- Talk to the client’s staff who are on the delivery team. Ask them about their organisation’s movers and shakers. Find out who else you need to be speaking to. There are usually lots of follow-on consultancy opportunities in large organisations, you just need to find them.
- Forget outreach emails and make some telephone calls instead. Start with lapsed clients – people you’ve previously worked with. The reality is you probably won’t get through to them straight away, so be prepared to leave a brief voicemail. Remember to offer some value, not just a catch up. Reconnecting like this brings you to ‘top of their mind’ for any new project work. Some people will return your call, some won’t. Remember to ask for referrals.
- Go back to prospects where you’ve not won work. Email them and remind them who you are. Don’t try to sell, just ask how they’re getting on and check if their priorities have shifted. Offer to act as as a bit of a sounding board and if they reply to your email follow it up with a phone call. See where the conversation goes.
- Take time out to think about a valuable idea, or point of view, you have (you know the one). Make some rough notes. Sketch out the story you want to tell prospects. Present it to a colleague and ask them to challenge your thinking. You’ll end up with something truly interesting.
Tiny actions like these add up. None of them take more than 15 minutes to complete. You can try them for yourself.
That’s how you keep your business development wheels oiled while you’re busy delivering work. And, as you know, it’s far better than living with the feast / famine cycle alternative.