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If you are challenging your consultants to support the business development function, are you also supporting them, asks Lars Tewes, MD of SBR Consulting.
Selling in the Consulting World
Are you supporting your consultants?
 
 
   If you are challenging
your consultants to
support the business
development function, are
you also supporting
them?
  
   In SBR Consulting’s
work with professional
services firms, we are
finding that consultants
are feeling more and more
pressure to achieve their
ever-increasing business
development targets. The
role of a consultant is
and always will be about
delivering value to the
clients; yet the role is
changing to incorporate
supporting and winning
projects and many are
feeling a conflict of
interest.
  
   As the need for firms
to win valuable work
grows, many are choosing
whether to bring in
business development
managers (aka
professional salespeople)
or whether to tap into
the strong relationships
and trust the consultants
have already developed
during their years of
delivery. As a global
sales consultancy, SBR
Consulting believes
strongly that consultants
delivering value have
earned the right to
become more proactive in
advising and influencing
clients about ways their
firm can add value,
leading to more mutually
beneficial work. However,
there is an increasing
danger that the support
is not there to help
consultants with this
transition. Managers
themselves are often not
 
 given the time or the
skills to lead this ideal
and incumbent business
development team.
  
   For many, the recent
round of appraisals has
seen a new addition for
the next year’s personal
performance – support and
involvement in winning
work. Many even have a
revenue figure attached
to it. However many
consultants are telling
us they are being given a
notional figure with not
much thought behind it
and with no plan as to
how to achieve it. The
following considerations
are designed to help you
see what is required to
create a high performance
business development
culture and to ensure
that you do not lose your
good consultants because
their role requires this
behaviour change.
  
   Put simply, where you
want a change in
behaviour that goes
against their emotional
conditioning, e.g. “I am
not in sales” or “I do
not have time for
business development”,
you must ensure that you
provide the right
support. A highly
challenging goal with low
support leads to stress
and often the loss of a
good deliverer. Equally,
lots of support without
the right challenging
goal leads to people
staying very much in
their comfort zone of
delivery. As the table
below shows, only one of
the four quadrants is
desirable: high challenge
and high support. The
other three result in
 
  
   
 
 
 
 
 
 
 you do not measure. As
humans, we may fight it
but we do need structure.
Rather than just giving
out sales targets, focus
on the behaviours and
effort required of the
consultants. Talk about
the number of relevant
contacts they have in
their network and the
number of meetings they
are having. Five meetings
a month is 60 a year and
if only six of those
result in work, most
people would be happy.
Encourage meetings even
if they are not all with
decision makers. Focus on
effort above the
opportunity stage, not
just the results.
  
   3 – Skill

   Provide an environment
where consultants can
up-skill themselves.
Selling is not a “black
art”: there is real
structure and process
behind it, so decide that
business development is
going to be a conscious
competency within the
practice and provide
training and coaching.
You would never expect
someone to become an
expert in another
profession without
showing them ‘how’ to be
successful first. Why
should sales be any
different to other
professions?Share best
practice around the sales
skills already being used
successfully in your
firm.
  
   4 – Will

   Ultimately, an
individual’s desire to be
proactive in business
development or not could
be the deciding factor as
 
 to whether the firm
scales. It has been
proved many times that
money is not the main
motivator for many high
performers. If it were
most would not be doing
what they are doing. When
we work with our clients,
time and time again, we
hear the same key
motivators that encourage
them to win business and
make it a habit:
recognition, promotion,
client satisfaction,
project satisfaction,
personal development and
autonomy. Tap into ‘why’
an individual wants to be
proactive and help them
to have the number of
meetings and
conversations required to
achieve sales success.
  
   In summary, we must
start being consultants
to ourselves. None of
this is new, nor rocket
science, but if the four
key areas described above
are a consistent part of
the culture and the right
kind of support is there,
you stand a real chance
of taking the stress
away, of the whole team
feeling involved and of
successfully hitting
targets. The top
producers always thrive
when they feel they have
the necessary support
while being pushed to the
next level. Take a moment
to look at the business
development targets set
for individuals within
your firm and decide
whether you have the
right balance between
support and challenge –
remember, you need both.
 
 anything from high stress
to apathy, to unrealistic
comfort zones, all
ultimately leading to
poor business
development.
  
   So, here are four ways
to support individuals
with real potential when
giving them challenging
revenue targets. They are
not 100% guaranteed, but
provide a strong
foundation for true
business success.
  
   1 - People not
paper


   The most common
mistake made by managers
is not spending enough
time with their key
people. The latter have
the potential to bring in
more work than you can
imagine yet finding time
to support them is not
always in your plan
because you think they do
not need it. Make a 1-2-1
schedule with your key
people and stick to it.
Treat the meetings as if
they are as important as
those with your top
client. Make sure that
you give lots of “hows”
to go about business
development correctly: if
they are finding it hard
to build their network,
for example, give them
specific suggestions on
what to do, and build on
this each month.
  
   2 - Track to run
on


   You cannot manage what