In the past two weeks, I’ve talked with two successful professional services firms that illustrate the need for business development (which I’ll call “sales”) and a comprehensive marketing program to go hand in hand.
The principal partner at one of these firms has been the chief rainmaker for a long time and built the business through the force of his personality. He engenders trust and confidence, and it’s not difficult to understand why he has no problem converting prospects to clients and retaining them for long periods. The other talented professionals in the firm have technical expertise, but lack his rainmaking personality.
The other firm’s principal partner is also a natural rainmaker who has been involved in the community for decades. The firm has been working with a consultant who, through quarterly phone calls, has helped some of the other partners and associates to create more of a sales environment.
However, both firms are missing out on growth opportunities. The first example shows how, through the force of one professional’s personality and drive, you can build a firm…to a certain extent. The problem is that one person, no matter how charismatic, can reach only so far. Even if this rainmaker works to build a business development culture, exhorting technical professionals unaccustomed to rainmaking to create leads, the task would be so much easier if he had a marketing foundation beneath him. A marketing foundation would remind those he’s already touched about the firm and what their firm can do for clients.
The other firm is making inroads into building a business development culture through increased networking, but then what? You have a worthwhile lunch with a strong referral source or prospective client, but a week later, your lunch partner might not even remember your name if he never hears from you again. No matter how much time and energy you invest in building personal relationships (meals, golf, etc.), without marketing follow-up, that investment dissipates.
The point is that business development and marketing have to support each other. Leads generated through marketing are a waste if the right person doesn’t follow up by building relationships. And vice versa, an investment of time and effort in nurturing relationships to turn prospects into clients is a waste without consistent marketing follow-up.