The Cost of Wasted Time in the Business Development Process

For many of us in professional services, our “sales force” only has a relatively small portion of their week dedicated to business development activities, so it’s essential for us to help them use that time wisely.

BD time wasters generally fall into two categories:

  1. Ineffectiveness (not focusing on the right things)
  2. Inefficiency (not using the right amounts and/or types of resources)

How much are these time wasters costing your firm in terms of hours? Opportunities? Revenue?

Times Wasters from INEFFECTIVENESS

Focusing on the Wrong Opportunities

One of the biggest time wasters in professional services firms is spending time pursuing prospects that are never going to buy from you or that otherwise just don’t make sense for your firm.

If your firm has a defined pipeline and/or sales process, you probably have distinguished what a qualified opportunity looks like. For us, the basics of a qualified opportunity include:

  • Do they fit the profile for the type of client we want to work with? (in terms of size, industry, geographic location, values, etc.)
  • What’s their budget? (Do they have the ability to pay for the solution we offer?)
  • Who has authority to buy? (Do we have access to the decision-maker(s)?)
  • Do they have a need for this solution? (Are they in pain? Are they sufficiently motivated to make a change to their existing situation?)

It’s important to have a clear, established framework for assessing and prioritizing opportunities and even more important to continually reinforce that framework with your doer-sellers.

There are a ton of resources out there related to qualifying prospects, but here is just one that includes a comprehensive list of qualifying questions.

Lack of Planning or Strategy for Each Activity

Ok, so maybe your doer-sellers are focused on the right relationships and the right opportunities—GREAT! But are they approaching each lunch meeting, each golf outing, each “check-in” email with specific intent?

Before any interaction, doer-sellers should be able to articulate exactly what it is they hope to gain. As marketers, we know that each email we send, each webpage we publish should have a specific Call To Action (CTA); each business development activity should follow suit.

Are we seeking to understand how they feel about their current service provider? Do we want them to make an introduction for us? Are we attempting to impose a sense of decision-making urgency?

Spending a few moments beforehand to consider our desired outcomes can ensure less time is wasted on directionless activities.

Times Wasters from INEFFICIENCY

Searching for Information and Materials

Do your professionals know where to find information on service offerings for non-profit organizations? A summary of your firm’s state and local tax experience? The resume of your R&D tax credit expert?

Based on a study by IDC, 36% of a typical work day is spent looking for and consolidating information. How much of this time could your firm get back if all of the information your team members need was neatly stored in one location?

36% of a typical work day is spent looking for and consolidating information

This is obviously not unique to business development; BUT if your firm lacks a system for organizing and accessing the materials that support your doer-sellers in the sales process, you may have some inefficiencies here.

The beauty of a tool like POUNCE is that materials are instantly and easily accessible. Users know exactly where to find the information they need, significantly reducing the amount of time wasted in search of marketing and sales collateral.

Not Delegating Tasks that Should be Delegated

Many of us struggle with delegation and feel the need to execute tasks on our own, even when our plates are spilling over. While doer-sellers can’t delegate or outsource the entire business development process, there are some easy ways they can leverage other team members.

Prospect research is a perfect example of a critical BD task that can be delegated. Researching a prospect organization and key contacts can be done by staff or administrator who can investigate and simply present their findings.

Other tasks that can be delegated include:

  • Content development
  • Scheduling meetings
  • Send client or prospect gifts/thank-you notes
  • Drafting proposals, including initial fee estimates
  • Analysis of current clients to determine cross-servicing opportunities

Delegation in general is one of the best time-management tools. Additionally, sharing business development responsibilities with staff contributes to their career development, skills-building, and job enrichment.

Summary

Too few hours in the day is one of the biggest BD roadblocks for our doer-sellers. By working with our teams to focus on the right activities and eliminate inefficiencies in the business development process, we help them invest their time and effort on high-value tasks, opportunities, and relationships.

We can help them focus on the right things (i.e., being effective) and leverage the right resources to help get those things done (i.e., being efficient).

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Dear Santa…

Dear Santa,

We’ve worked really hard this year. We launched an updated brand, developed a new website, and helped grow our sales pipeline. So if you deem us worthy of a spot on your nice list, here is what we would like:

  • A marketing team member who is highly creative, super organized, a great writer, presenter, and graphic designer, and knows all the latest technology
  • Or maybe a unicorn
  • A dress code policy change to allow sweats if the temperature drops below 60° (that’s cold to us in south Louisiana!)
  • Even more qualified opportunities in our pipeline
  • Wine (of course)
  • An office puppy named “The Boss” (“Sorry I’m late for the meeting, I needed to take The Boss for a quick walk.”)

Also, we know you have a lot on your plate right at year-end so if you need any help understanding the latest pending and enacted tax law changes and how they might affect you and Mrs. Claus, we’d be happy to help you out.

Merry Christmas,

P&N’s Marketing Team

Announcing Our New POUNCE Blog

Today is an exciting day. We are taking a new step in our crusade to help empower marketing and technical professionals alike in the accounting, legal and A/E/C industries in business development and firm growth.

As a lean marketing department supporting a professional services firm of 450+ team members, we understand firsthand many of the obstacles to growth encountered by firms today. Technology changes faster than marketers can keep up, the needs of our doer-sellers continue to increase, and our own roles continue to evolve.

Regardless of how fast things change, we love the people we work with, the work we do, and the challenge of it all, and we are passionate about sharing our lessons learned with others in similar positions.

Here’s what you can look forward to in the POUNCE blog:

  • Firsthand insights from our own successes (and not so-successes) in helping create and support a growth culture
  • Ideas and best practices on how to maximize your impact as marketing and business development professionals
  • Resources you can pass along to your doer-sellers to encourage participation in the sales process
  • Ways we’ve been able to leverage technology to support and streamline business development efforts

If you are responsible for marketing or business development efforts in a professional services firm, this blog is meant for you. We invite you to join the conversation. We welcome your thoughts, comments, suggestions and questions.

Thank you for reading!

Sincerely,

The POUNCE Team

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