Lopsided practices can’t grow

Too many professionals bifurcate their practice into serving and selling. Then they act surprised that there’s no growth.

Focus all your energy and resources on selling, and you risk business going out the back door.  You celebrate new clients, but the top line doesn’t change. Likewise, obsess over existing clients and use busyness to justify your neglect of sales, and you’ll soon struggle to keep your team busy.  The point is, both serving and selling are critical tasks for achieving growth.

I have observed that the higher performing partners and managing directors do both.  All the time. In their way of thinking, excellence in client service is seeing opportunities to expand services.  Likewise, business development is simply understanding the client’s business and proactively offering solutions to anticipated problems.

Engage your client often and he’ll tell you where his company needs your help.  Invite prospective clients to lunch or an event often, show interest in them and their business, and you gain the advantage on that future project or proposal.  As Woody Allen put it, “Seventy percent of success in life is showing up.”


Dealing with angry clients

A young business development professional was recently on the receiving end of an angry response from a prospective client.  He was shocked by the defensive and angry outburst of the executive.  After all, he just wanted to offer a possible solution to the company’s problems.  The young professional immediately assumed that he had done something wrong.  Not necessarily.  Outbursts of anger says more about the person blowing up, than it does about you.

Seth Godin writes, “Just because he’s angry doesn’t mean he’s right or well informed.”  When someone gets you back on your heels with their outburst of emotion, it’s easy to feel you’ve done something wrong to provoke them.  Before you back off and fall all over yourself offering apologies, stop and think.  It just might be that you’re right or got too close to the truth.


Leadership is about consistency

Develop the discipline of consistency. Avoid the extremes.  Do not be too perfect or too corrupt.  Do not be overly wise, but never be a fool.

People do not mind working for the demanding leader, providing that leader is consistent.  High expectations from a person who is consistent is far more tolerable than an accommodating person who is unpredictable.

One of my mentors was a demanding leader with high expectations.  Present an idea to him that hadn’t been well thought out and you got his “nice speech hairy feet, but where’s the teeth and claws?” treatment.  Being in that situation was very uncomfortable and frustrating.  However, at one time I counted twelve people he had mentored who went on to run other companies or serve in “C” level positions.  They all spoke of him with gratitude.  One of them put it best saying, “the thing about it, he was consistent.  He treated everybody the same.  He did not show favoritism or have a different set of rules for different groups of people. You might not have agreed with him, but you always knew where he stood.

Are your people able to count on you to respond consistently?