Business development is a mysterious trade. It requires our time and our courage, and in return it offers the promise of new clientele. We enter into this trade with a leap of faith, recognizing that it will take some unknown amount of time before our initial efforts bear fruit. And when they eventually do, they yield less than we expected, and the referrals often come from the most unlikely people—results that may very well lead us to ask, "Why?"
I used to try to understand the answer to that question. Why, I'd ask myself, do two people with the same background, qualifications, and charm produce divergent results? Perhaps you've wondered this about yourself: Why is it that you, with all of your relationships and intentions, generate less business than that competitor who (truth be told) is a bit of a hack?
But our efforts to understand why usually do little more than slow or even paralyze our progress. As professional problem-solvers for our clients, we are hard-wired to search for an explanation to the business development conundrum. And it's perfectly human to seek to understand cause in our lives. But the subjective answers we often settle for do little to move us closer toward our goals. Trial-by-error offers far more valuable insight than rumination.
So, ask yourself: "Are you a Whyer or a Whater?" Because the key to business development is action. Even if what you do is a mistake, you'll learn from it, you'll shift your direction, and you'll gain hindsight.
So, if you aren't yet developing the business you want, spend less energy trying to understand the cause. You may never reach a satisfying answer and that time is better spent in the trenches. Instead, try a new strategy.
- Spend more time with your clients.
- Produce a webinar or live presentation on a new topic.
- Explore a strategic alliance with a fellow advisor.
- Go through your database and reach out to people you haven't spoken to in at least five years.
Your top competitor is eating your lunch. Why? Don't obsess about it. There's a more important question to ask: What are you going to do to improve your own results? Oh, and one more thing: when?