Ask Whether Your People Have The Right Skills.

Time after time I have heard people involved in various business development activities saying … “oh we tried that particular business development or marketing initiative and it doesn’t work”. If you have ever said this then please, please think again. 

All too often, when I have had the chance to take an up close and personal look at why a particular initiative has failed, believe it or not about 80% – 90% of times I find it is not the particular idea or activity at all that is inherently flawed, but the way in which it has been executed by the people in the organisation. In other words the lack of appropriate personal performance business development skills of the individuals is the problem. 

Let me give you an example. One law firm I advised some time ago came up with what seemed like a particularly good idea for a new service idea. With great optimism, they decided to launch it, quite rightly, by sending a letter to their existing client base. Disappointingly, the results were poor and very few of their clients seemed interested at all. Following a heavy meeting to discuss what had gone wrong, the firm dropped the idea, having concluded philosophically … “well it seemed like a good idea, but it just doesn’t work”. 

When the firm told me this story, I asked them to show me what they had done. Once I looked into it, I could instantly see why the idea hadn’t worked. The concept was fine, but the problem was that the letter they had sent out to promote it was worse than useless. It was written by people who had no professional experience or understanding of drafting influential promotional copy, who actually admitted they were not good at writing marketing materials. Despite this admission however, the one thing they never considered was blaming themselves for the lack of results. 

I persuaded them the idea was good after all, showed them how to change the letter and gave them some basic training on how to draft copy that actually gets results. The outcome … well they tried the idea again with the new letter and this time pulled a huge positive response.

I do not tell you this to boast, but as a simple and powerful warning against the notion of always blaming the activities, rather than the people, partners and individuals who attempt to implement them. 

If something hasn’t worked ask yourselves … “do our people have the necessary business development ‘personal performance’ skills?