Becoming Indispensable is Key to Earning Business

Posted by dscaringi on February 2, 2017

Positive relationships should be at the core of every hiring decision. This holds true across all kinds of hiring… from adding employees to bringing on outside legal counsel. When it comes to business development, it is pretty common knowledge that gaining new work from existing clients is usually easier than unearthing a brand new piece of business from someone who has no experience with you. It just makes sense– presumably you have provided an excellent service for a reasonable rate, producing solid results. It’s a great model… build trust with clients today and it will lead to new business from the same client. Sounds like a slam dunk? Sure… but, sorry… not guaranteed. So how do you gain a little more security in your ability to expand work from existing clients? Make yourself indispensable. Sounds exhausting, but arguably, it is this kind of depth that makes work satisfying.

Particularly in the legal industry, it has been a common practice for clients to require outside lawyers to understand their businesses deeply. Becoming indispensable goes further than this, however.  Here are a few things you can do to start developing your relationships and achieve ‘indispensable’ status.

  • Be the first to identify challenges and risks for the client’s business and develop solutions before they become problems.
  • Bring opportunities to the client that they may not have anticipated or otherwise accessed.
  • Be proactive as often as you possibly can, anticipating roadblocks without being overly negative.
  • Use efficiency to save the client money.
  • Be nimble and willing to change.
  • Provide thought leadership in your area that has impact on other areas of the business.
  • Make your clients’ lives easier whenever possible.
  • Add value every step of the way without charging for it.
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Sometimes Things Don’t Go Your Way, But You Have To Keep Trying

Posted by dscaringi on November 10, 2016

This year’s Presidential election was quite an experience for many people regardless of their preferred candidate. As election night unfolded, anxieties rose about what many people thought was a ‘done deal’ for Hillary Clinton. There were many reasons Americans voted the way they did, which I won’t get into here. But what I think surprised Hillary Clinton supporters along the coastal states of this country, was that something they thought was so sure, well… wasn’t. What does this have to do with marketing and business development? A lot. Here are just a few take-aways:

  • Nothing is a sure thing. There are times where you feel confident that you have connected every dot and secured back-up plans to your back-up plans to earn a piece of work. However, the outcome is very different than you expected. You scratch your brow, muttering, ‘how can that be?’ The reality is, if you are prepared from every angle, anticipate the possible hurdles and put your best foot forward, most times, things go your way. You hope for the best that all of the other pieces will fall into place. However, hope is not a strategy.  It is a very singular experience. Business development is definitely not only about you.
  • There is always an other opinion. Part of a good sales process includes doing your homework and trusting your instincts. What is overlooked in the sales process, is an open conversation with people to get perspective along the way. Ask someone you trust (but who may not see things the same way you do) to provide honest feedback on your sales strategies. Perhaps most importantly… take their input seriously and be willing to adjust if you need to.
  • Keep on going. We all have moments when we need to stop and tend to our wounds, and we should honor those moments. In your reflection, remind yourself that you will lose sometimes and that is ok. But, most importantly, keep trying. If you lose a piece of business to a competitor, review your sales effort with a critical eye and look for ways to improve or adjust your approach.

As President Obama stated, “no matter what happens, the sun will rise in the morning, and America will still be the greatest nation on earth.” Likewise, if you keep striving to build the strongest relationships and genuinely help solve problems, you will be successful over the long haul and be the best version of yourself possible.

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Working the Room. Keys to Success

Posted by dscaringi on March 17, 2016

Business development plans come in all shapes and sizes, and with all kinds of strategies to develop and nurture long term relationships leading to business opportunities. Networking is an important part of that plan. You take time to select an event to meet the people in your target market, identify who is likely to be there, practiced your quick pitch and dressed smartly. But you find yourself dreading it. Why? Because walking into a networking event forces you out of your comfort zone.  How do you make the most of the next 2 hours? Here are some tips:

  • Don’t go in cold. Since you have taken the time to identify who may be in attendance, start planning your conversation starters. Think about timely topics, industry related questions and other relevant talking points so that you may spark a conversation at a moment’s notice.
  • Dress for success. Identify the personality of the event, the business position of the attendees and the environment of the venue. Dress one step above what you think the group will be donning. Don’t wear high maintenance clothes that require your attention (read: no shirts that don’t stay tucked, plunging necklines or wraps that keep slipping off your shoulder) Make sure you have pockets to keep business cards– keep yours in one pocket and the cards you collect in the the other pocket.
  • Hold your head high. Look confident, even if you are incredibly uncomfortable in the networking environment. The old saying, “fake it ’til you make it” has some truth here.
  • Go to the furthest food station or bar. When you walk into a room, scan it. Then cross the room to the further bar or food station. This gives you time to assess the group and see who you may know. See someone along the way, stop and say hello. Don’t see anyone you know, simply get something to drink or eat and strike up a conversation with the folks next to you.
  • Prioritize your activities at the event. If you know who you want to see while you are there, find that person and connect with them early on. That way you won’t miss them if they decide to leave early or get engrossed in a deep conversation with someone else.
  • Find groups of 1s and 3s. If you don’t know anyone in the room, look for people who are either alone, or in a small group with an odd number (like 3 or 5 people). The single people will be thrilled to have someone to talk to and the groups of odd numbers allows for gentler interruption of conversation.
  • Ask questions. People love to talk about familiar topics. Ask them questions about themselves, their careers, how they know the host, etc… If you get them talking, listen to what they say for clues for conversation segues.
  • Take your turn. The conversation will eventually turn to you– so be ready to give your quick pitch. Adapt your language for any newfound commonalities amongst you and the listeners.

If networking makes you feel anxious, take a look at it through a new lens. Try to think of networking as making new friends. Take the opportunity to meet people who have a common interest as you. With thoughtful follow-up, some of these new people will blossom into long-term relationships while others may take an other path. Either way, be open to new experiences with new people. Suddenly it won’t feel like work, but rather time well spent.

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