Friends and Colleagues:
I enjoy the quiet time at the end of the holidays to reflect on the coming year. This year I tried something new. Rather than setting goals that lend themselves to a success or failure outcome, I tried a ‘more of this’ and ‘less of that’ approach. I listed out the things in my life that I wanted more of and the things I wanted less of. Rather than say…I want to lose 10 pounds. I might say, for example….do more yoga and….drink less booze. I like the new format. It’s easy to keep track of. I can easily see how many more times I went to yoga this week and how many fewer empty bottles of wine are in the recycling bin. And, if I do more yoga and drink less booze, the health benefits should take care of themselves.
My new approach is more process-oriented rather than outcome-oriented. By focusing on the process our attention is placed on the behavior that drives outcomes. If we can find enjoyment in the process……the process itself becomes a reward; further reinforcing the desired behavior and outcome. There is a lot of internet content on the merits of a process-based orientation rather than a goal orientation. I was, however, unable to find a credible academic study that compared the efficacy of these two approaches. Stay tuned for an update on the success of my new approach.
To this process orientation, I would like to offer a third approach to our 2024 resolution practice. This third path takes the ‘more of this, less of that’ approach and applies it to our personal traits as they relate to client development. In my client development/business development research over the past 10 years, I have observed traits that many successful rainmakers have in common. These observations are far from a scientific study, but they make intuitive sense to me. Here are the four key traits I have observed among the top BD professionals I have studied:
Curiosity of ideas and people is a key trait of many highly successful professionals. When we are curious about others and ideas, it opens doors to our knowledge and our relationships. Knowledge from a wide range of sources and topics drives our professional respect as a thought leader. Our expanding ecosystem of professionals driven by a curiosity of others leads to greater referrals and inquiries. I encourage you to purposefully cultivate curiosity in 2024. Not in a success or failure kind of way. But in a ‘more of this’ kind of way.
When I speak of empathy in the context of client development, what I mean is a greater appreciation for the difficulty of the client’s buying decision journey. We’ve examined this difficulty numerous times in How Clients Buy and How To Win Client Business. Hiring a professional is a much more difficult and lengthy journey than purchasing a tangible product…even a major purchase like a home or car. When we have greater empathy for the difficulty of the client’s buying decision journey, it allows us to become better guides in the process. I encourage you to practice greater empathy for your clients in 2024 and I believe you will achieve greater client development success.
Client development is not selling. It is not a transactional event. It is the cultivation of relationships with those in our ecosystem who we wish to serve. A relationship based upon respect and trust. Respect and trust are human emotions that often take a long time to develop. One of my favorite quotes is “Sometimes patience is the fastest way to get what you want.” I believe this is certainly the case with client development. In the coming year, I encourage you to introduce more patience into your client development efforts. I believe you will find that trying to expedite the relationship building process is counter-productive to our success at winning client business.
I have observed a trait that I believe distinguishes professional service providers from many in the business world: a service mindset. True professionals serve others. We help identify and solve complex, real-world problems. This ethos is the bedrock of many professional organizations and licenses (CPA, CFA, CFP, PE, MD, JD, AIA, etc.). A belief of service not selling. When we aspire to serve others, our intentions are felt by others. Our clients can sense that we are here to help. We have their best interests at heart. When we aim to serve others, it builds trust. And, when we build trust, others will come to us more often to serve their needs. As we enter 2024, I hope we can all lead with a mindset of more service, and less selling.
I wish you all a very happy, healthy and prosperous new year. And, I hope you find this ‘more of this, less of that’ approach to client development helpful in growing your practice in 2024.