Posted in practice on September 27, 2016 10:49 am EDT

How to Build a Firm of Seller-Doers

Seller-doers are those who bring in the work while actually doing the work. Probably nobody knows that better than you if you're reading this. Here, how to balance loving your church design craft -- and selling it.

Shifting the model from a focus on sales to a focus on building a network of relationships can create a greater degree of comfort in moving from a “doer” to a “seller-doer” model. Image: stock.


 

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TAGS: architecture, business, company culture, design, profitability,

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By Cathy Hutchison

Most of us get into church design because of love of the craft. We train professionally as architects or engineers because we want to build something that matters.

Yet the business skills—the ones that ensure we get to practice—are often on the job training. Though some design firms have dedicated BD professionals, most rely on “seller-doers”—those who bring in the work while actually doing the work.

If you are lucky, you have a natural bent toward business development. For most of us though, it doesn’t come that easily. It has to be cultivated. Here are four proven ways to help your team become better at selling, while still doing.

CHANGE THE PERCEPTION

If creating a "seller-doer" culture is a new focus for your firm, it can create a lot of fear. People have emotional baggage when it comes to selling—everything from failing at a sales contest in elementary school to more recent experiences with pushy vendors and telemarketers.

If you are lucky, you have a natural bent toward business development. For most of us though, it doesn’t come that easily. It has to be cultivated.

The wonderful thing about selling in the world we live in is that salesmanship today is far different from 15 years ago. The digital world ensures that sellers are no longer the only source of information. Dan Pink, in his book, To Sell is Human: The Surprising Truth about Moving Others, writes, “the balance of power has shifted—and we’ve moved from a world of caveat emptor, buyer beware, to one of caveat venditor, seller beware—where honesty, fairness, and transparency are often the only viable path.”

Pink makes the argument that, “To sell well is to convince someone else to part with resources—not to deprive that person, but to leave him better off in the end.”

Shifting the model from a focus on sales to a focus on building a network of relationships can create a greater degree of comfort in moving from a “doer” to a “seller-doer” model.

TIRED OF BEING THE "BEST KEPT SECRET"? MAKE GETTING OUT THERE WITH YOUR CLIENTS PART OF YOUR COMPANY CULTURE

Ever heard the phrase, “It isn't who you know. It is who knows you.” All the favorable PR and online promotion in the world isn't as good as getting your team out into churches and active at events so that you have exposure. All of us have teams under high-pressure deadlines--it is the nature of building projects, so to counteract that business development has to be cultivated to become part of company culture.

Highlight opportunities for connection, join your client’s professional organizations, bring in training for your designers, and most importantly, lead by example.

Good designers are often high achievers focused on deliverables. It will take some coaching to give them confidence that taking time away from production to socialize and serve where potential clients gather is worth a percentage of their time.

INVEST IN A COMPANY-WIDE CRM SYSTEM

Client relationship management (CRM) is a discipline. My eyes used to cross whenever the conversation drifted to CRM tools. After all, there are a lot available. (Cosential, DeltekVision, Salesforce, DynamicsCRM—my firm happens to use QuickBase.) But the common complaint is that the tools are irrelevant if your team doesn't have a culture of tracking the interactions with their network.

People don't track unless they know why it matters, so it will require some time sharing the why. It is easy for months and years to go by without connecting with anyone outside of your daily current project. But the chances of those relationships brining in a new project immediately are slim. We have to continue to grow our networks, because without active relationships, there is no next project.

If you don’t have a position in your firm to be able to get them to invest in a company-wide system, then develop a personal one. LinkedIn can be a fantastic CRM tool—if you keep the notes on each contact current. And the best part? Your contacts keeps their own information up to date.

ASK FOR THE REFERRAL

Many of us are shy about asking for referrals—after all, it feels like soliciting compliments.

The thing is, people who like us and believe in our work actually want to help us. But if we don’t ask for that help, it will never occur to those clients to do so. (Because—like us—they have their own pesky deadlines.)

There are a number of ways our existing clients can help us. They can provide a quote for our website or press release. They can make an introduction to another church. Or they can simply offer advice on where we should spend our time to meet other clients like them.

Asking for referrals always feels uncomfortable at first, but you might be surprised at how enthusiastically you get help.

The good news is that you don't have to be able to "work a room" to be a good business developer. Anyone can help an organization where potential clients gather, build a network of relationships and care for them, and learn to ask for referrals—and since that is best done one-on-one it is accessible to introverts and extroverts alike.

 

 

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