Business development in the professional services sector is not rocket science. Anyone possessing the will and the discipline to follow a simple formula can, over time, build a thriving practice. (Okay — “over time” is the hard part. Much of the time we expect immediate results.)

What is this formula?

{Target Identification} + {Understanding of Drivers} + {Solution to Drivers} = BD Success

Cracking The Code

1. Strategic business development begins with the identification of a specific target. The more specific the better. The more general, the less successful the effort will be. The ultimate target? The individual able to hire you. But don’t overlook other individuals or groups — sources able to connect, refer, recommend and/or coach you regarding the target able to do the hiring.

2. The second part of the equation — understanding business drivers — is about investigating, researching and listening. The goal here — to coin a phrase — is to learn what keeps your target up at night. What does your target care about most? What is so top-of-mind that sleepless nights, not to mention profitability or sustainability are at stake?

Attempt to make a connection, nevermind walking in with a presentation or pitch without an understanding of drivers, and the formula falls apart. More often than not, when the formula falls apart, you begin to sound like everyone else in the marketplace.

3. On the other hand, look long enough, listen hard enough to understand the business of your target and you’ll have the information necessary for the next part of the equation — the design and presentation of a solution to those sleepless nights.

The Payoff On The TDS Formula

This simple approach to business development is about nurturing a series of strategic relationships. In a volatile marketplace, this is the stuff of a practice that can grow. While both business drivers and service offerings evolve or completely transform over time, relationships based on listening and delivering value have what it takes to endure.

And, at the risk of pointing to the obvious — this is why so-called “cross selling” is important. Work the formula right and the collaboration is broad-based — including colleagues and other service providers.

This is especially good news if you subscribe to the idea that relationship trumps everything.