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“ But I am an introvert!”
“ I hate introducing myself to strangers.”
“ What about my projects? I don't have time.”
“ Networking is not my strong suit.”
“I was not hired to sell!”
“Sorry, but if you want to grow and move up in this company, you have to bring in business. “
Can you relate?
Almost two decades of experience as an introvert who was dropped into the business development position in corporate America( and had to perform at the speed of light) has made me quite familiar with both sides of this conversation; the complaints & excuses along with the expectations & threats. I have witnessed many different strategies enticing and encouraging the technical staff to become more involved in business development and have observed various ways the technical staff has tried to avoid it.
Where do you fit into in this uprising battle?
Additionally, if you are a business owner, an entrepreneur or a recently promoted principal you actually fight the battle on both sides, at all times! An internal language of musts and shoulds and a body, a being that is not prepared for the undertaking.
In best cases with a few webinars and bootcamps we expect the shift to happen:
these are the events you are required to attend,
here’s how you shake hands,
you should collect this many business cards,
you are required this many number of cold calls,
this is what you say on the phone when you cold call…
Often, the new rules and agreements don't go beyond a “ new year resolution” though. They fade with time and everyone gets back to their busy schedule. Until the next times sales or billing is low or pipeline is not promising and the cycle goes on and on….
We expect ourselves or others to jump into a new skin and feel comfortable in it without taking time fitting the skin.
How reasonable is this expectation from technical people or ourselves? How realistic is pushing someone into a new role without certain shifts in their way of being? Who would expect a writer, for instance, to fill in for an RN with a few webinars? What makes us assume that business development and sales should come to everyone naturally? How can we avoid this cycle without losing good people, without conflict in the organization and without seeming unrealistic? What’s the best way to make this shift managed, productive and sustainable?
It would be easy to leave you here with all the questions! Most easy!
Claiming to have all the answers, a magic wand that would break old patterns and create a sustainable change, is deceitful. Besides, I truly believe doing business development goes beyond learning a few techniques, hand shake lessons or networking tips. Like any other role we take up in life it requires a shift towards a new narrative. Playing on a new stage in the act of life would require blending with the new personality as it is being born.
Stepping into a doer-seller role, perhaps even working on expanding one’s own business, would require one to develop passion, authenticity, whole hearted presence, engagement, follow up plans, communication, connection, education and certainly listening skills.
Authenticity and passion can not be replaced with any closing techniques. Whole hearted presence can not be substituted with the most exotic lunch meeting. The most modern exhibit booth will only be seen through the engagement of the people running it. Most expensive conferences are only as valuable as the follow up plans & actions. Connecting and networking goes way beyond the number of business cards exchanged. Genuine involvement in educating the clients can not even be compared to sending a marketing brochure. And listening, yes, listening without judgement or greed, without having one’s own agenda & response in mind would transform an interview process to infinity and beyond!
True or False. Either way. How about taking a step towards asking ourselves some difficult questions. Whether stepping into the role or leading our employees into taking the step, let’s pause and ask ourselves:
Answering these questions once is certainly not effective enough but can shed light onto what our main resistance is and what can be done to handle this resistance with a gentle and sustainable approach. Going back to them regularly can have tremendous insight on what needs and can be done. After all, change can be messy and usually it’s not welcome! A mindful approach with the right questions and observations can make the milestones and the progress much more tangible and appreciated.
Every time you answer the questions, contemplate on your answers. How much complaining language is there? How much blame? How many short lived promises?
How ready are you? What is the one thing you can work on to develop this narrative? What happens if you don’t?
After all, aren't we, every one of us, always involved in business development? Whether it’s the business of making friends and companions or the business of serving more clients. Whether it’s the journey of living a joyful and alive life or the art of leading a successful career, how would it all look without development?