Everyone knows the key to successful business development efforts is relationships with a capital “R”. However, 2020 threw a wrench into maintaining those relationships both personally and professionally.
As we step into 2021, most of us are ready to accept this "new normal" that includes telecommuting as a part of daily life while juggling the usual demands of work and maintaining relationships. Of course, we are looking forward to the day we can be together again and travel more freely to make contacts, but in the interest of innovation and adaptation, we should focus on the silver linings and the upsides to dealing electronically. Maintaining strong business relationships are as important as ever, and in many ways more so now, as we don’t want to become “out of sight, out of mind” with our customers.
- To begin it's a great time to really learn that Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software your firm has been putting off setting up properly. Dig out the business cards collected at conferences of old that were subsequently pushed into the junk drawer and begin creating real entries for those folks.
- Work the phone. Use this time to check up on people without selling them anything. Ask about their family’s safety and health before moving on to business topics. Populate your CRM with information on their spouse, kids, birthday, etc. It will come in handy in the future.
- For the more introverted amongst us, this time of digital connection could be an opportunity to really hone your message to potential clients or partners. Practice your elevator speech and think about how what you offer benefits your client. I call it the “so what?” Because clients want to know how working with you will benefit them. If you can answer the “Why work with your firm” question, you’ll be on your way to building a mutually beneficial relationship.
- Become an industry resource. Too often we are guilty of sending our clients “news” or announcements about what our firm is doing, but how does that benefit your client? A better approach would be to send your client an interesting article about something that could help their business. Send a personal note with it. Better yet, send a handwritten note. It’s a lost art and it’s so rare, that I guarantee people will remember getting a personal handwritten note in the mail.
- The ability to be anywhere virtually can be an advantage if utilized properly. The upside is the ability to 'gather' with people who would typically not be able to be in the same place at the same time. Set up a virtual leads group. Choose and invite a BD person from different firms you work with in the industry but those that are not a competing firm. For instance, an Architect, MEP Engineer, Civil Engineer, Construction firm, etc. Hold a zoom happy hour and share leads and industry knowledge. We all need connection now more than ever and people love to do business with colleagues they know and like.
- Hone your social media approach in creative and innovative ways, not ignoring that this is a challenging time for so many financially and personally. It's okay to bring a humanity focused approach. LinkedIn, Alignable and even Facebook or Instagram are great ways to engage with your customers by posting interesting industry related topics, world events and how it impacts our industry, or even company cultural events – how your firm is engaging the community in this unprecedented time.
Digital connection was never meant to replace the real thing, only augment it, but when we come out of this experience, we will hopefully be better than ever at merging the two together for the best possible outcome.
About the Author: Mauricio Henderson, CEO, Perseverance, is a phenomenal leader in the community with strong leadership skills and innovative ideas for all people. Being a member of AGC of Colorado, Mauricio has an active and significant role within the Future Leaders Forum, Legislative, Diversity, Workforce, and Associates Council. He devotes a great deal of time to make a difference in his community by volunteering. He is proud to serve with the Adams County Public Schools, Transportation & Construction Girl Committee, WORK NOW, and State Youth Council, to name a few.