Monday, July 26, 2010

The Truth About Body Language – It’s Not Just All Talk

Have you ever had a business development conversation with someone that didn't go exactly the way you expected? You talked... they talked... but you just didn't seem to communicate. This might be because either you, or the potential Client, were actually saying something that you didn't intend. You may have been having a completely different conversation as a result of your body language.

You may have heard that verbal communication accounts for only a part of the total message you send. But did you know how much? Are you sitting down? If so, make sure you are sitting up straight – we now know that your mom told you to do this for a reason. The reason is that body language actually accounts for over 90% of what is communicated during a conversation. Hard to believe, but it’s true.

Just think back on a time when you were a customer. Did the salesperson look directly at you or look away? Did he cross his arms? Did she smile? Did she stand straight up or slouch? How was his handshake - firm or did he offer you the 'dead fish'? Either way, it left an impression.

When trying to develop business, it’s important to be aware of any negative signals you may be sending – and to remember that positive body language can actually make you appear more confident, likable and trustworthy. In other words, you will be someone that the potential Client would want to do business with. For the next few posts, we’ll explore some of the elements of good – and not so good – body language.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The CRM Checkup

As with any stressful or strenuous activity, always be sure to visit your physician before beginning your CRM ‘workout’ regimen. For a CRM checkup, you’ll probably want to enlist the services of a CRM ‘specialist’ such as a consultant who focuses on helping Clients to succeed with CRM.

So what does a CRM checkup typically involve? Relax - we promise we won't ask you to cough or say, ‘ahhh.’ Instead, if your firm has already rolled out a CRM system, but seems to be suffering from a bit of CRM malaise, the consultant may take your CRM temperature by asking you questions about where you are with your rollout, the challenges you've faced and successes you've had.

If you're thinking about selecting and implementing a new system, we’ll examine your firm’s unique goals and specific needs and the problems you think CRM could help to solve. We’ll also check your CRM pulse to determine whether you have done the necessary work to get in shape including committing the time, money and other resources required, enlisting management and leadership buy-in and putting the necessary systems, processes and procedures in place.

Once we have run all the necessary diagnostic tests, we’ll prescribe an assessment, which is a plan for success that includes a healthy dose of information, ideas and best practices to help you achieve long-term CRM health and prevent any recurrence or relapse of problematic CRM symptoms, issues or challenges. We’ll also recommend a regimen for long-term CRM ‘fitness’ that includes short-term, intermediate and long-term goals and recommendations for long-term CRM success.

Before we leave, we’ll even check your blood pressure - because CRM is not for the faint of heart. However, for those who are willing to commit, follow their specialist’s orders, and take their prescriptions as directed, the payback can be well worth the effort.

Of course, as with a visit from any doctor, you will ultimately receive a bill. But after a CRM checkup, you’ll find that the benefits more than outweigh the costs – and you won't even have to file an insurance claim. Afterwards, you'll find yourself feeling much better (at least about your chances for CRM success).

If you think you may be in need of a CRM Success checkup, feel free to call. We'll be happy to give a free consultation - and we even make house calls (subject, of course to travel expenses).

Monday, July 19, 2010

Taking the B’s out of B.D.

Banish the Blackberry from Business Development

If you want to be successful in building your business, the other 'B' that you need to banish - at least from Client meetings - is your Blackberry.

Picture this: you and another partner finally manage to get out from behind your desks to go meet some prospective Clients. Things seem to be progressing nicely. Then, while you are talking, your partner whips out his Blackberry and starts reviewing and responding to emails.
Your partner is definitely sending a message – and not just on the BlackBerry. Regardless of what may have been a harmless intent to multi-task, the real message sent was, “I am done talking with you. I am talking with someone more important now.”

Remember, the Blackberry is a communication device. When you use it, you are involved in a conversation. If you are meeting with a Client and you suddenly begin tapping away on your Blackberry, you might as well have turned your back and begun a completely unrelated conversation with a completely unknown third party who isn't even in the room.

Rude? Well, just think how you feel when conversing with colleagues or Clients and midway through the conversation they pull out their Blackberries. You may wonder if you are boring them? Or whether you should just stop talking, because obviously what you were saying wasn't that important to them. Or maybe you should just get out your Blackberry too?

Remember, anytime you are engaged in another conversation, even only using your thumbs, you are not fully engaged with the current conversation - and the other person knows it. If you want to be a trusted advisor to your Client, you need listen to them - and only to them. That’s the only message you want to send.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The CRM Personal Trainer

Many people who are recognized as leaders in their sport, field or occupation often attribute a significant portion of their current success to a trainer or coach of some type who helped them achieve more than they ever thought they could. And plenty of couch potatoes can attest that the only thing that finally motivated them to achieve the results they said they wanted was a trainer who pushed them and held them accountable. 

This trainer may be a mentor, trusted advisor or expert who shares knowledge and information and helps to avoid challenges and missteps. Even more important may be that encouragement they provide when you need it most or the firm push you need when you think you have reached your limits.

Likewise, seeking the counsel of a trainer or expert can be invaluable in the quest for CRM success, especially since the cost of failure can be significant in terms of lost time, money – and credibility. In some cases, it could even be a career-changer (which may be good or bad).

Your CRM trainer may be a CRM provider who helps to improve customer results through ongoing education and support. It could be a user group of peers who meet regularly to make each other more successful by sharing what has worked for them and what hasn’t. It could be an industry group that provides CRM white papers or webinars. Or it could be a consultant with significant CRM and industry knowledge and expertise whose job is to work together with Clients to provide support as well as information, ideas and best practices.

So get off the couch and find a trainer to help you with CRM success. You’ll definitely achieve more than you could alone. 

Monday, July 12, 2010

Taking the B’s out of B.D.

If you want to be successful in building Client relationships, the key to successful business development, there are two B’s that you need to forever banish when dealing with Clients. The first one is the word ‘busy.’ 

Be Careful Not to “Busy” Yourself Out of Business

Imagine you are sitting in your office, trying to get through the thousand-and-one things on your to do list for the day . Then, unexpectedly, the phone rings and it’s a Client. You pick up the phone, attempting to seem engaged - or at least somewhat interested. But in reality, you are distracted. You can feel the minutes ticking away and emails multiplying exponentially in your inbox. 

The Client asks politely, “How are you?”  and you respond, “Oh just buried - as usual. Don’t know if I’ll ever get it all done. What’s up?”

What message have you just delivered to the Client?  What if she had something important she wanted to discuss  – or some even some additional work for you? Well, if she did, you will probably never know because now she is thinking that you don't have time to handle it - or, even worse, she may be wondering how focused you are on the work you are doing for her already. 

What if instead, when the Client asked how you were, you responded, “I’m doing great! How can I help you?”  Now that starts the call off in a whole new context. It projects to your Client that you are enthusiastic and  focused on her needs instead of your busy day.

The same focus is just as important face-to-face. Before meeting with a Client, take a minute to collect and compose yourself. Make sure you are organized and prepared. Double check your appearance - and your attitude. You don’t want to appear as if you just completed a marathon on your way to their office - even if sometimes it may feel like you have. Greet the Client calmly and confidently, with your focus completely on her and her needs. 

These things may seem like basic common sense, but just think about the number of times you have seen someone fly into a meeting, completely disheveled, and explain that they were so busy with their other commitments that they haven’t even had a moment to breathe. It leaves an impression – and not a good one. These are not the people you want to work with - and neither do your Clients. They want to work with people who appear prepared, composed and confident. 

So take the word “busy”  our of your B.D. vocabulary. You've got better things to say. 

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Eat Your CRM Vegetables

Since we’ve just talked – and walked - about the CRM Treadmill, let’s keep the health-y CRM metaphor rolling. 

Your mother always told you to eat your vegetables... whether you liked them or not... because they were good for you... and they’d help you to grow up big and strong. Right? Well it’s the same with CRM.

Sometimes, to achieve CRM success, we have to do things that we don’t like because we know they will ultimately be good for us. Secretaries typically don’t like taking the time to make sure that all of their attorneys’ contacts are correct and complete. Attorneys typically don’t like spending time going through their contacts to decide which ones are private and which should be shared. (Heck, some attorneys don’t like sharing their contacts, period – but that’s a topic for another day). Marketing certainly doesn’t enjoy going through every mailing and event list to make sure that it is accurate – and then having to deal with all the bounced-back communications. And nobody really relishes the ongoing commitment of time, money and other resources that CRM success sometimes takes.

But to succeed with CRM, we do these things because we know that if we commit to do the work and dedicate the time and resources – if we eat our vegetables – we can achieve CRM success... which means we will be more effective in our communication, coordination and Client service... and we will develop more business... and increase revenue... and grow our firm. (and then we can have some ice cream.) 

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Business Development Mistake #10 - Confusing Activity with Progress

If you think you are too busy for business development, then you may just need to be more focused. It’s easy to confuse activity with progress, but to be effective, you need to allocate your limited business development time wisely. 

Instead of spending  time on activities that are not generating results, focus on the ones that are proven to build and enhance your relationships. A good rule of thumb is that any activity that does not help you directly or personally connect with potential Clients is probably not the best use of your time and resources. 

Friday, July 2, 2010

The CRM Treadmill

One of my former colleagues was fond of saying that CRM is like a treadmill. Nobody ever got in shape by just buying one – you have to actually use it.

He’s absolutely right, and for even more reasons. Have you ever shopped for a treadmill? The process can be quite intimidating. They come in all sizes and prices with more features and functions than you can imagine. In fact, if money were no object, you could easily come home with a top-of-the-line unit that boasts not only hands-free speed adjustment (which sounds scary to me) and a 50% incline (for those of you who don’t know exactly what that is, imagine Spider man walking up a wall really, really fast), but also a multi-speaker stereo system, a 7” flat screen TV, an iPod dock, high speed internet, a refrigerated drink holder and a foot-powered personal air conditioning unit (ok, I made those last two up, but wouldn’t that be cool?) And you get all this for just under $10,000. This bad boy will look pretty impressive gathering dust or clothes hangers.

CRM is no different. If you don’t know what you need or want going in, CRM providers have all the shiniest bells and whistles. You can get relationship intelligence, opportunity management, referral tracking, Client team support, strategic account management, financial or H.R. integration, PDA syncing, matter and experience management, a document repository, an alumni database, contact self-verification, competitive and business intelligence, taxi-cab reports, reminders with bells and whistles (literally) and a nifty graphical representation of your business development funnel (imagine an empty ice cream cone – both literally and figuratively for some firms) - all for the low, low price of under $500K. Too bad what you really needed was help with mailings and event management. 

Don't get me wrong - all these things are great – but only when utilized to execute a well-planned business development or marketing strategy. Yes, CRM can do a thousand things. That doesn’t mean that it should. To be successful, start with the 2 or 3 things that are essential to helping your firm and professionals achieve their goals.

So, do your homework when shopping for CRM – because if you don’t end up using it, you can't even hang clothes on it.