What it’s like having never met a stranger.
(My perspective on business development during COVID-19.)
It has been said that I have never met a stranger. What does this mean…it means I am the “People Person”. I am the talker. The creator and custodian of relationships. This fact serves me well in my current role as Director of Business Development at Root Valuation in Denver, CO. But in a time of social distancing, finding opportunities to interact with clients and colleagues (let alone strangers) requires modifications to business development and the sales cycle. Here are some of my thoughts about business development in the COVID-19 era.
First, DON’T make the interaction about sales or business. Now more than ever it is important to lead with empathy and a desire to put people first. Along-time friend and mentor once told me that in times of crisis good business partners become GREAT friends! (So true John). Partnerships based on meaningful human connection set a foundation for long-term success for both companies well beyond COVID-19.
Being a good partner in this current business environment starts with listening and communicating with transparency. Take the time to really understand the problems faced by your clients and recognize that right now many businesses are facing challenges never seen before. They need a trusted partner to use as a sounding board for both conventional and out of the box thinking. Relay your own experiences and the shared experiences of others. Learn from each other…and be generous with your time, energy, and resources.
It is also time to get creative with your client interactions. My approach to doing business development has always been what I call a “Midwestern” style, with face-to-face conversations, being straight forward (no BS), and doing what you say. Historically this has also meant concluding the conversation with strong handshake. COVID-19 slammed the brakes on these types of interactions and has caused a radical rethink in how we do business Adjusting to this new reality requires that we adapt, be innovative, and control what we can. Instead of face-to-face conversations move to a video meeting. Instead of getting to know a new potential client over drinks at a favorite watering hole try a virtual happy hour from home. Be creative and unique in these interactions to make it a more personal experience and you will find them well received.
As a final thought, seek out new organizations that may have online opportunities to get and stay in front of your relevant audience. I like the idea of creating an opportunity to partner with another company and/or subject matter expert on a current relevant topic (a recent example for Root Valuation is telehealth). I reach out to my network and engage in conversations with other professionals in similar business development roles. I ask a lot of questions to understand what they are seeing and try to identify new avenues of engagement and potential sources of revenue. With so much changing in our world, doors are opening to new opportunities that you many have never considered previously. Embracing this change is critical to supporting your organization and finding continued success once COVID-19 is in the rearview mirror.
In the end, it really comes down to “do the right thing”.That is a core value of Root Valuation and is something we believe makes us all stronger.And remember, we are all in this together! #STRONGERTOGETHER.