TZL 1361 (web)


Don’t sell, be helpful

There are countless ways to develop business without being a business developer, and you are most likely doing some of these things already.

W hat do you think of when someone says they are in “business development?” The most common response is “sales,” followed by “client lunch,” “golf outings,” and other fun descriptors like, “don’t do real work,” “slick talker,” and “LinkedIn for days.” Most people think about someone trying to sell them something, or that annoying automated sales call during dinner.

David Miller

When I think about business development, I try to go to the positive side. What motivates me to buy a particular product or service when I have options? Put simply, I want a good product at a fair price. No one wants to overpay, and they want to make wise decisions about quality and service. In other words, they want to buy from someone knowledgeable and trustworthy. So how can you convincingly convey that message? This is where most technical leaders and other AEC staff tend to cringe. You’ll hear, “I’m not a smooth-talker,” along with, “I don’t want to be a salesperson.” In the professional services industry, we are at a bit of a disadvantage. With products, the consumer sometimes gets a free trial, and nearly always a cheerful refund if they are unhappy with their purchase. We are unable to give our clients the experience of working with us unless they are already a client. Or are we?

I remember being new to an area and needed to find a car mechanic. I was sure I needed a new battery cable installed. It’s a simple project, and I didn’t want to pay too much. At the first place I visited I opened the hood and started walking toward the entrance when the manager came out and shook my hand. I showed him the cable and he said, “Give me just a minute.” He came back out with a spare terminal clamp and a wrench. Two minutes later, he was done. Then he told me there was no charge, and to just remember him if I ever need a mechanic. That did it; I was a loyal customer. That mechanic identified the problem efficiently and helped me out. The experience taught me an important lesson: Don’t sell, be helpful. We can

See DAVID MILLER page 13

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