Only 52 percent of architecture, engineering, planning, and environmental consulting firms offer lead development training, according to respondents of ZweigWhite's 2006 Training & Development Survey. The survey also states project managers on average receive approximately five hours of marketing training a year. "Many technical professionals lack the essential skills required to increase firm sales," says Anne Scarlett, principal with ZweigWhite and director of the firm's marketing consulting group.
Anne shares three steps to increase business development training effectiveness:
Create personalized plans. ‘One size fits all’ business development training is ineffective. Help technical staff create a plan that suits each individual’s strengths. Social butterflies thrive at association events, while others may feel more comfortable writing business development letters and following up with phone calls.
Increase business with existing clients. With direct access to clients, technical folks have perfect exposure to grow the business. Coach the staff on how to uncover obscure client needs; cross-sell services; negotiate mutually beneficial, long-term relationships; and position as an indispensable ‘service provider of choice.’
Buddy up. Diving into the deep end of the pool can be daunting. Pair novice business developers up with a mentor who can walk the technical staffer through the lead development process for a few months.