Earlier this year, I was asked to describe the A/E/C sales process to a room full of peers. My initial reaction was, “Sales is a result—business development is a process!” Yes, we’re trying to generate sales, but with professional services, that should be considered the preferred culmination of effective and timely marketing and business development efforts.
In a vernacular sense, sales or customers are more transaction-based, similar to retail. Business development is the process of securing clients, and clients are those with whom you have to earn trust before there is any chance of working together. And that process, as you’ll be reminded, does not start at the RFP!
That being said, I gathered myself and decided to create a simple list of words that align with the chronological process of what I (and all you other business development leaders out there) do on a daily basis. I wanted to be able to write these on a flip chart very quickly. I thought of key action words that I execute from Point A to Point Infinity. These words are: Identify, Engage, Listen, Understand, Respond, Inform, Pursue, Affirm, Win, Fortify, Cultivate.
That’s it … the 11 words that best describe the entire business development process. Now, let’s take them one at a time to clarify what they mean.
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Written by Michael Buell, FSMPS, CPSM, Assoc. DBIA, this article first appeared in the October 2019 issue of Marketer.