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Reflections on the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

March 12, 2013

“Voice From the Trenches” is written by SMPS Boston member Karen Euler. Together with Pia Cardinali, CPSM, she will present a session on marketing communications (including social media) at the upcoming Marketing Boot Camp.

What were the top takeaways from the standing-room-only event on business development held last month? Those who missed the workshop may have heard that the “Good, Bad, and Ugly” was a smash hit. Client panelists Leila Kamal of EYP, Peter Stein of Fox RPM Corp., Bob Graham of New Balance, and Trina Learned of Wellesley College offered case studies of selling techniques while being questioned by veteran BD professionals. Margaret Neil, Director of Client Services at Consigli Construction Co., summarized the session thoughtfully.

“(The clients who spoke) definitely seek a long-term business development approach as opposed to short-term sales tactics.

“Don’t just try to cold call to get on a list: you’re probably too late and they are highly unlikely to return your call. They appreciate meeting firms at industry events and conferences as it provides them with the opportunity to make a personal connection and also shows your firm’s interest in their market sector. They also like when the BD person keeps in touch with them after a project is won to make sure the firm is meeting expectations.

“Do your homework and don’t waste the client’s time. Come to that all-important first meeting with the right people and right message. Research the client’s website, know how many people are coming from the client side, assess whether it should be a formal presentation or more casual and make sure you bring the appropriate level and number of people from your firm.

“Going above their heads to Trustees or higher level executives to push down a decision is not an effective long-term strategy. Both the end users on the panel resent this tactic and said that it might get you the job but that your firm will be ‘one and done’.”

Moderator Renee Driscoll, Business Development Manager at Rolf Jensen & Associates, Inc. provided the comic relief for the afternoon, with self-deprecation and gentle jabs aplenty. On a serious note, she added a few more summarizing points:

  • Most clients on the panel noted they actually read and file brochures and other marketing material.
  • If you are leaving a “cold” voice mail message, be funny or engaging. If you keep your message standard, you most likely won’t get called back.
  • If you are calling trying to start a relationship, make your call project-specific. Don’t just ask, “Do you have any work coming up?” Doing so is impersonal and insincere.

 The event was a smash success, as evidenced by the buzzing room and the well-attended networking event that followed at a nearby location.

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