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Business development is everybody’s business

By Dalene Bloom

It’s been heard before: “Everyone in your firm is a marketer.”

But what does that mean? What should individual staffers do?

The answer for each person is dependent on his or her role in the firm and on its marketing needs at a given time. Each person can contribute more, however, if the firm’s leaders ensure marketing activities are driven by clear goals and approaches.

Make a plan, share it and lead it

It’s surprising how many firms don’t have well-defined objectives, at least beyond the vague concepts of “get more work” and “make more money.” Because of this, it’s not so surprising how many firms lack solid plans for how they will attain more work. Even among firms that manage to write such plans, many never are truly implemented.

Firms that thrive, particularly professional services firms, typically share their marketing objectives and plans with all employees, from technical personnel to client managers to the front desk support person. Their principals let all employees know that marketing is a top priority for everyone in the firm.

From the get-go, they help staffers understand what each person does in terms of marketing and business development and how their work affects day-to-day business and long-term goals.

Some have all-staff meetings to help the entire team understand the firm’s services or products and let them know the team’s depth of knowledge, expertise and experience. Some take a more thorough step of communicating individually with each staff member about steps they can take personally to enhance marketing and business development.

The receptionist, for example, can strive to remember client faces and names and then address callers and visitors in a more personal, welcoming way. Project managers can improve project profiles by writing about unusual or particularly challenging elements of projects, rather than just providing lists of technologies or materials. And everyone can connect their LinkedIn profiles to the company’s page. A firm’s owners also might encourage staffers to pay attention to rumors they hear and articles they read about potential projects, and to share that information with senior marketers.

Firms that actively communicate about marketing also tend to send marketing-focused emails to the staff, providing updates about the firm’s marketing activities, wins and losses, and any lessons learned along the way. They also incorporate marketing reports into all-staff meetings and constantly, in different ways, ask for feedback or ideas for marketing.

Keep the mindset of “clients first”

The majority of new work generally derives from existing or past clients and referrals. It results from nurturing the client relationship, giving outstanding service, seeking feedback and – one important aspect often left out – staying in touch. Everyone in the firm can have a hand in putting the client first, from a project manager calling to ask about work quality, to a finance person taking the time to explain paperwork, to a junior team member being pleasant on the phone and in email.

And everyone can adopt better listening strategies, learning what the client wants to know rather than what the firm wants to sell. With such information, they’ll be far more likely to hear “This is really useful” rather than “Quit bugging me!”

In short, involving everyone in marketing and business development provides fresh eyes and perspective on the firm’s sales process. They also help create unity within the firm, promote a consistent message and increase efficiencies across the organization. This adds value to the brand.

Dalene Bloom is the marketing and office manager for Precision Construction, a division of Hoffman Corp. Contact her at dalene-bloom@hoffmancorp.com.

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