Winning new business
There is no getting away from the fact that the success of any firm is dependent on the business development skills of its partners. This is more crucial now than ever before. In the pre-recession market, when work was plentiful, firms could carry a large proportion of their partners who didn't have such skills. These firms relied instead on the work coming to them and the endeavours of a few 'rainmakers'.
Now that work is much scarcer, firms should be investing in business development skills training for their partners. After bringing their client development skills up to scratch, partners need to gain an appreciation of the 'sales' process for professional services: target → contact → prospect → client. They need to understand how they move along this continuum from target to client; how they use marketing to facilitate this; and, why the best strategy entails building a relationship of trust with a decision-maker, understanding their needs, explaining your capabilities, and waiting for them to buy from you. Now is not the time for aggressive sales tactics, as these are doomed to failure.
As clients look to get the best deal from their advisers, competitive tendering for work is a fact of life for many professionals. In most instances, the chance to pitch against other firms for a piece of work or a place on a panel is the last stage in the new business cycle, with the firm's partners having spent months, or even years, cultivating key contacts at the prospective client, identifying their needs, and positioning the firm as a potential provider of advice.
Unfortunately, all too often, this hard work is wasted and the pitch is lost because the firm fails to get its act together: everything is left to the last minute leaving insufficient time to prepare properly; the firm lacks a real understanding of the prospective client's needs; the firm's pitch 'team' fails to act as a team; and, most crucially, the firm fails to identify and/or communicate a winning proposition.
How we can help
At Wheeler Associates, we provide a range of services to help firms to be more effective at winning new business, including:
- Devising targeting and sales programmes for firms
- Auditing a firm's pitch process to recommend improvements or establishing a pitch process for the first time
- Assisting teams with individual tenders and new business presentations
- Conducting pitch debriefs with clients and feeding back to pitch teams
- Sales, pitching and new business presentation training for partners