Saturday, May 29, 2010

CAUTION: Business Development Coaching Hazard

Small cultural details add up over time. Please pay attention to this detail which, approached the wrong way, inadvertently fosters an eat-what-you-kill, every professional for himself mentality. If you lead a professional services firm, office or practice group, think again before you let your professionals hire their own personal business development coaches. You may simply be helping them to build their own portable “book of business” rather than benefiting your firm long term. Are you interested in growing a firm or in growing a collection of individual professionals who just happened to be housed under the same roof and brand name? Client development is both an individual pursuit as well as a collaborative one – at least, that’s the way the most successful firms approach it. Client development coaching can be an extremely effective way to get your professionals more consistently and effectively into the marketplace. But, what’s really optimal for any firm is to build a superior, predictable and sustainable revenue stream and relationship set with clients that are “the firm’s” not just the proprietary property of a lone wolf rainmaker.

The marketplace is now littered with one-person business development coaching practices and it is difficult to tell good from bad. Here are some clues to identify those client development coaches that will benefit your firm, not solely your individual practitioners:

1. They focus solely on the professional services market and understand the nuances of the field…if they’re not completely immersed in the professional services world, they’re likely to be pushing sales methodologies that may be all good for peddling “complex sale” products but are sure fire turnoffs for professional services clients.

2. They have the scale to coach a team of your professionals – not just one or two lone wolves…they’ll have, for instance, more than just one business development coach available.

3. They will demonstrably commit to a long term, relationship building approach to client development rather than a short term, transactional one. Consider, for instance, how they’ve gone about cultivating their relationship with you. Is that how you want your professionals behaving?

4. They’re smart enough to start by helping professionals build unique points of competitive difference and positioning that are custom-fit for the individual professional but which also fit within their practice group and firm’s strategy & positioning.

5. They provide decision-tools to guide professionals so that they spend their limited marketing time in the most productive way…rather than a coach that just cracks the same whip on every individual they coach.

6. They view their client as “the firm” rather than “the individual professional.”

7. They deliver methodologies and frameworks which encourage professionals to collaborate with colleagues to attract and expand clients.

8. They literally bring a firm’s professionals together regularly to foster collaborative client development activity. If a client development coach only works by packing one-to-one sessions with individual professionals from a hodge-podge of firms into a compressed time period for each and back-to-back throughout the day, how effective can that really be for your firm, no less for any of the individual coachees?

9. They collaborate with the firm’s leadership on each coaching program so that leadership can support the coaching effort from the inside – and, so that it is clear to the individual participant that coaching is a firm-approved and sponsored use of the professional’s time.

10. They collaborate closely with the firm’s marketing and business development staff so that coaching seamlessly synchs with, supplements and supports the marketing team’s activities.

Details make the difference in most professional engagements. They also matter when you’re equipping your team to help grow the firm.

No comments: