If you are in professional services and want to work on the most exciting projects for the best clients, maximize your compensation, become indispensable, and take command of your career, then merely delivering excellent client service is not enough. You must do something, anything, to help bring in revenue.
That’s what seller-doers do.
I define a seller-doer as a billable professional who takes purposeful action to help generate revenue for their firm.
The word “doer” implies that you are actively engaged in billable client work as opposed to being a full-time business developer or marketing professional.
“Seller” refers broadly to marketing and business activities that generate revenue for your firm.
I include the word “help” in the definition because your involvement in generating revenue will be based on the nature of your business and where you are in your career. In other words, you don’t have to be a rainmaker, or principal, to be a seller-doer with impact.
Take purposeful action
The middle part of the definition, “takes purposeful action,” simply means that you are doing something other than just delivering top quality deliverables and successful outcomes for client projects.
Below are five examples of activities in which seller-doers might participate.
- Raise awareness of your firm by speaking at conferences, blogging, and being active on LinkedIn or Twitter or both.
- Grow your network and develop leads for new clients by attending networking events.
- Ask an existing client for a referral.
- Help identify opportunities for new projects with existing clients… before your competitors do.
- Write or contribute to proposals and interview presentations.
What must a seller-doer learn?
To succeed in those activities, there are four capabilities that every seller doer must develop: communication, marketing, business development, and closing the sale. Let’s take them one by one.
Communication is the foundation of everything a seller-doer does and is the place to start if you don’t have these building blocks in place. If you can’t communicate effectively, tackling the other skills will be difficult if not futile. The skills include the following:
- People skills
- Business writing
- Public speaking, and
Effective communication is the key to establishing healthy working relationships with clients. Similarly, people skills allow you to build rapport and credibility, thereby fostering trust between you and your clients. Being able to write and speak clearly and persuasively will help you convey your best ideas in a compelling way that helps you stand out from the crowd.
Marketing is the most important means of attracting new clients. A large part of this for any professional is in growing your network and raising awareness of your firm’s (and your) capabilities. You can do this through writing, speaking, and attending networking events, and being active on LinkedIn.
If you’ve been tasked with finding new clients rather than just developing new work for existing clients, then prospecting is essential. This may require your being able to perform market and client research to identify best clients.
You’ll need to know how to get referrals from existing clients and others in your network. And you’ll need to have the phone skills that can get a prospect to take a first meeting with you. Do an excellent job and you’ll soon be pumping new project leads into the pipeline. And when it comes to revenue generation, the pipeline rules all.
Business development is the process for moving project and contract opportunities through the pipeline up to the brink of proposing on and winning the business. It’s in this middle stage of the client lifecycle where most deals are won or lost. Four business development skills that you will need are listed below:
- Planning a compelling sales call
- Questioning and listening
- Positioning (i.e., articulating your value proposition), and
- Capture planning and making good go/no-go decisions.
Closing the Sale
Closing is the last step in getting work in the door and an important seller-doer capability. For you to operate within this part of the client lifecycle, you need to learn these skills:
- Proposal writing
- Interview presentations, and
These skills get the fees on the books. If you’re just starting out, you might volunteer to help by writing similar project descriptions and resumes for a proposal or to help run the dress rehearsal for a high-stakes interview presentation.
Speaking of Volunteering
I asked 30 top AEC executives how they would recommend developing seller-doer skills. Number one? Volunteering.
Volunteer in your professional association, in your client trade associations, and in your community. You’ll not only develop skills, you’ll be growing your network and discovering new clients.
The top four strategies for developing seller-doer skills, as recommended by executives are these:
- Volunteering (as described above)
- Conducting lunch & learns for existing clients. . . and prospective ones
- Joining Toastmasters International (a nonprofit educational organization that teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of clubs), and
- Joining or participating in the Society for Marketing Professional Services (SMPS).
Be sure to check back next week for upcoming posts on this subject with more details on how to become an effective seller-doer.
And, if you want to stay apprised of the upcoming book tentatively titled Becoming a Seller-Doer, then click here to sign up for periodic alerts.