Blogs Consulting Professional Services Sales Development

How To Enhance Business Development Skills In Your Technical Experts

Jo is a technically brilliant accountant who has been rapidly promoted through the grades at a large professional services firm. Along with her strong technical skills, Jo has always been great with clients, building strong relationships and providing an efficient, flexible and supportive service that they really appreciate.

Six months ago Jo was delighted to be promoted to Partner. However, today that delight has turned to despair. It’s the first time that she has been responsible for meeting a revenue target. Jo does not see herself as a salesperson. She knows she is great at what she does, but she is finding the challenge of generating revenue difficult and for the first time in her career she has doubts about whether she can succeed.

So, what are Jo’s chances of success?

As Daniel Pink argues in his book, To Sell is Human, we are all in sales.

The good news is that Jo is already showing some of the key behaviours and personal drive characteristics that are critical in business development: she is driven and focused on her own progression; she is confident in her abilities; she has spent many years building trusted relationships with her clients and provides them with insights that they find valuable.

The areas that Jo now needs to work on include her self-belief when it comes to winning business and increasing her client base. She needs to accept that her role has changed and to recognise how her existing skills, attributes and activities can help her achieve her business development goals. Equally, she needs to identify which skills and activities may be missing from her toolkit, and be supported to develop these. And she needs to re-focus her goals and personal drive to incorporate the business development elements of being a Partner.

This will be a familiar scenario for many consultancy organisations, where your highly valued consultants / accountants / lawyers (i.e. your technical experts) are promoted to senior / Partner positions and given responsibility for business development.  Many will thrive in their new role. Others will flounder. At worst, your valued employee will leave the organisation as they feel the pressure of ‘underperformance’ for the first time in their careers.

Our Acuity® for Strategic Sales assessment model is proven to enhance revenue performance by up to 23%. By evaluating individuals against 9 key capabilities Acuity can provide targeted and personal feedback to help them address their development needs.

If you want to retain your top performers and enable them to hit the ground running when promoted into roles requiring a focus on business development, let us help you to support them on that journey.

Sarah Clapperton is a Director at Bloojam Consulting. She is a Chartered Occupational Psychologist with 15 years experience in the assessment and development of leaders.

Blogs Consulting Professional Services Sales Development Sales Leadership

Why Innovation Is Key To Driving Sales Performance…

And Why Sales Leaders Need to Loosen Their Grip On Their Sales Teams

As sales dry up and the pressure to achieve target increases, for sales leaders it can be very tempting to impose greater oversight of sales teams through more regular check-ins, activity reporting, new processes and more. This is understandable given how volatile the world is right now. To make well-informed decisions about how to adapt to the new normal, it is only natural for a sales leader to want to have up-to-date information from those on the ground. But is it the right approach?

We already know that salespeople spend a lot of their time on non-sales activities, for example this Salesforce survey of sales professionals identified that even before lockdown on average 64% of their time is spent not selling. So if we are now asking them for even more information, more frequently, that can only further reduce the amount of time available for selling.

Worse still it may be stifling sales innovation at the very moment you need it most. There is a growing body of evidence that fostering a culture of innovation amongst your sales team will positively impact upon the bottom line. This is not achieved by a rigid ‘one size fits all’ style of management. It is based upon encouraging individual salespeople to share knowledge with each other, to ask questions, to challenge existing methods, to generate ideas and to explore these further in order to problem solve, all with the intention of adding value for the customer.

It requires sales leaders to focus on knowledge and behaviour within the team rather than their targets and outcomes. And it requires individual salespeople to work collaboratively rather than acting as lone wolves.

In rapidly changing and uncertain economic climates, everyone in the sales team and across the organisation needs to be sharing, and interrogating, information not just reporting it up to the sales leader. Allowing sales teams to be innovative could be a real differentiator. Encouraging your salespeople to think differently and to challenge each other and the status quo will enable them to respond innovatively and lead to better solutions that will enable them to position themselves with their customers as a trusted advisor; someone they want to hear from and whose insight they value. It is that quality of relationship that will drive your competitive advantage.

Jim Bloomfield is a Director of Bloojam Consulting with 20 years’ experience of using business psychology to develop salespeople and leaders. He is a member of the Association of Business Psychology (ABP) and the British Psychological Society (BPS) and has successfully helped some of Britain’s best-known businesses exceed their sales goals.