Posted by: drewdice | September 29, 2010

Greasing the skids

Last night, JoAnn made a batch of her world famous turkey meatballs; I’m not sure what she does to make them taste so good (even though I have watched her make them, so I can get an understanding of the recipe mix), but I have a hard time not eating all of them in one sitting….especially after having worked out before dinner.

After dinner, we were putting the dishes in the dishwasher, and for some reason, I took particular notice that I was cleaning the dishes before putting them in the dishwasher. I don’t mean just a quick rinse, but making sure there was nothing on the dishes before putting them in to be cleaned.

I’m not sure why and how this happened, but I started thinking about business; specifcally, professional services businesses, and how this relates to sales and overall performance. I reflected on all of the challenges to organizations face, including:

– building brand equity in competitive markets
– connecting with decision makers to have conversations
– gaining credibility with prospects who are unfamiliar with the organization and sales person selling to them
– enabling delivery team members (consultants) to better engage existing customers to sell additional services

And so, I thought about what a firm can do to better enable these things (and others) in growing the enterprise. Here is a quick list of what I would consider some “must-do” items:

– Gain credibility: be knoweldgeable about challenges that face the marketplace before you make the connections; prospects want help, and seek additional counsel, but only if you have value to add. Having relevant case studies and articles to support your points of view and create additional dialogue add significant punch here

– Collaborate, collaborate, collaborate: often times, there is a wide gap between sales and delivery. In my experience, this is not because these groups do not like each other, but rather because they are each so busy “doing”, that collaborating, connecting, planning, and strategizing take back seats. Firms need to increase the level of importance of this connection, and make it easier than ever for meaningful dialogue to happen (i.e. sharing what the consultants are hearing and seeing on the ground, discussing the goals for the account, sharing new things the “seller’s” organization is doing that may be relevant to the client)

– Find ways to get the prospect familiar with your firm: this doesn’t mean grinding out a bunch of cold calls every day (although that can be fun from time to time). More than that, I’m talking about understanding where your prospects currently “are” – from a social media standpoint, from an events and networking standpoint, from an alumni association standpoint – all of this speaks to paying attention and really giving this type of mindset and behavior what it deserves. It takes time in the short term, and pays tremendous dividends in the long run.

A great resource for more information on this topic is the book Professional Services Marketing, by Schultz and Doerr, .

Grease the skids, wash the dishes…call it whatever you want, but stop working so hard on your way to serving the market better!

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