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:
- Ineffectiveness (not focusing on the right things)
- 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.
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).